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Born to Be Old

-- by James E. Powell

The shrinking shelf lives of high-tech products make it hard to buy anything without a nagging fear of obsolescence. Well, it's getting worse.

Take Symantec's WinFax 7.5, released late in 1996. Before this upgrade had even shipped, the company had readied the beta of WinFax 8.0, set to be out in 1Q 1997. Similarly, before WINDOWS Magazine could publish a review of Home Page, Claris' Web authoring tool, the company announced version 2.0, a very different product.

Not even full-fledged suites are immune. Corel released the last iteration of WordPerfect Office last summer and the Pro version last fall. Almost simultaneously, it sent out feelers about a brand new version due in the first quarter of 1997.

With hardware, one reason for change is the microprocessor; Intel's constant ramping up can lead to obsolescence before release. For example, it had the Pentium 150MHz for notebooks out to manufacturers even before models featuring the 133MHz arrived (NewsTrends, May 1996). And the delay of MMX may have more to do with vendors' fears of low sales during Christmas than with the chip's "readiness."

And finally, companies seem to be changing their minds more often. It was only last June that Fujitsu debuted the Milan, Montego and Monte Carlo notebooks. Come October, it announced plans to replace that line with the Lifebook series. The new ones are just like the old ones, the company insisted-except for the name, look, configuration and price.

Copyright 1997 CMP Media Inc.

(From Windows Magazine, January 1997, page 78.)