Tech Talk

Mac Format - - SOS MAC - by Luis Villazon Luis Villazon still has a PC some­where run­ning Win­dows 95, but his old­est Mac runs Yosemite.

On 20 April, the iTunes Store stopped work­ing for any­one run­ning iTunes on Win­dows XP. For two days, the in­ter­net fo­rums blazed brightly as one side claimed Ap­ple was de­lib­er­ately tor­pe­do­ing Win­dows, the other hotly in­sist­ing Ap­ple was per­fectly within its rights to stop sup­port­ing an ob­so­lete op­er­at­ing sys­tem. But they all missed the point.

This wasn’t a de­lib­er­ate ac­tion at all. It was a mis­take. Ap­ple de­vel­op­ers changed the en­cryp­tion for iTunes Store con­nec­tions and didn’t prop­erly test it on all the op­er­at­ing sys­tems sup­ported by iTunes. XP is still on that

“When XP was re­leased, Macs were still run­ning Puma”

list, so this was an over­sight. But it’s an easy over­sight to make con­sid­er­ing XP is 14 years old now and even Mi­crosoft doesn’t sup­port it any­more.

When XP was re­leased, Macs were still run­ning OS X 10.1 (Puma). Hands up if your In­tel Mac is even run­ning Leop­ard. Ex­actly. That’s be­cause Ap­ple has, since Snow Leop­ard, made OS X in­ex­pen­sive or free, and it uses up­grades as a way of sell­ing more Macs. But Mi­crosoft makes its money from sell­ing the OS, which means fewer cus­tomers up­grade. Over time, users get spread over more and more ver­sions, and the cus­tomer sup­port and testing re­sources get spread thin­ner and thin­ner.

In iTunes’ case, that af­fects us as well. To fix the store er­ror for XP users, Ap­ple had to roll back the en­cryp­tion to the pre­vi­ous (and pre­sum­ably less se­cure) ver­sion for ev­ery­one.

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