Mark Minasi occasionally writes a column for a newsletter from Windows & .NET Magazine. Today he makes an interesting point to support his contention that Windows NT 4.0 should not be considered obsolete. Minasi notes that the hardware in personal computers has changed less in the last ten years than in the ten preceding years.

”In the late 80s, the constant pace of radical hardware change and the challenges of making 16-bit OSs with microscopic memory models meant that most software truly was obsolete in a few years. But that situation has leveled out, and despite the marketing hype, computer hardware hasn’t changed all that much.

“Compare a 1983 PC to a 1993 PC. The 1983 PC probably ran a 16-bit/8-bit hybrid 8088 processor; about one-third of the PC-compatible machines had no hard disk, networking was virtually unheard-of, mouse devices were unknown, roughly half the systems had no graphics capability, and mass storage was, well, 360KB floppy disks.

“By 1993, the average PC had a 32-bit processor, much more memory, graphics capability, a mouse, and a ubiquitous GUI. More than 90 percent of business-owned systems were networked, and CD-ROM burners were around but not yet common. All of those hardware changes demanded support, and older OSs and applications lacked that support. When newer OSs and applications arrived with support for the new hardware, the older stuff was doomed–obsolete.

“What, then, has changed on the hardware front in the past 10 years that might make earlier OSs obsolete? Let’s make another 10-year comparison. Compare a 1993 PC to a 2003 PC, and you find that hardware hasn’t changed all that much. Yes, processor speeds are greater, we can afford more memory, and networking and CD-ROM burners are more common, but the major hardware changes for the average PC are USB and FireWire. . . .”