Seven zombie technologies that just won't die

From beepers to COBOL, some tech keeps lurching forward, despite the smell of rot.

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Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6

windows_xp_600x450.jpgSource: Wikipedia
Hum Madonna's "Ray of Light" to yourself for the full effect

Those of you who have never used a hacked-together front-end to a COBOL program are probably feeling pretty smug about your high-tech lifestyle right about now, but consider this: According to our analytics, there's a better than one in six chance that you're using a computer running Windows XP -- an operating system that just turned 10 years old -- to read these words. (Just for context, 10 years before Windows XP came out, the entire World Wide Web was restricted to a few NeXT servers at CERN, and the most popular Internet applications were Usenet and Gopher.) Heck, hundreds of you poor souls are using Internet Explorer 6, the browser that was released with XP, and one of the few products whose creator set up a website publicly calling for its death.

Why have XP and (to a lesser degree) IE6 survived repeated attempts on their lives? Well, the Vista fiasco was largely responsible for keeping Microsoft in an OS holding pattern; even though Windows 7 has been a success, there's always a hesitation when it comes to paying for something new when the thing you already have works just fine, thanks. IE6's survival has much more in common with the screen-scraping scenario from our last panel: There are still plenty of internal browser-based apps out there that were written with IE6's quirks in mind, which are still crucial for company operations but whose creators have long ago left, tying them like an anchor around your neck.

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