VISUAL NEWSLETTER – MAR 2001           

 


WHY ISN’T DOS DEAD YET ?

 

Microsoft Windows in its many flavours has become pervasive on the average desktop and in areas such as word processing and spreadsheets. In spite of this fact, large numbers of DOS programs continue to function on millions of computers.

 

In fact, despite rumours that the new version of Windows 2000 would not support DOS, Libra and many other DOS based programs still work quite nicely on it. Some changes to fonts and screen size may be necessary but we have not experienced any major problems to date and have five or six clients on it.

 

While somewhat more expensive to purchase and set up, Windows 2000 Professional does indeed appear to be more stable than Windows 95, 98 and Millennium Edition. Microsoft’s own statistics indicate that it is 13 times more stable than Windows 98.

 

DOS’s longevity is at least partly due to the fact that Windows was first built on a DOS foundation and some of that very early architecture still exists. Many DOS based programs were also built at a time when programming costs were lower than they are now and budgets, oddly enough, were larger.  To convert many of these programs, that still work pretty well, can often cost several times their original development budget and for many companies this is cost prohibitive in these times of economic restraint.

 

Since Accounting Software Companies tend to be considerably smaller than Microsoft, IBM and the like, development times tend to be much longer to bring products along. Even fairly large companies that started in the DOS market, such as AccPac & Great Plains took a while to release products and their pricing jumped substantially as a result.

Both now can easily cost $10,000 or more.

 

CONVERTING TO WINDOWS

 

For some clients converting to Windows Based Accounting can be relatively inexpensive. Low end products are fairly inexpensive due to the economics of mass production. Simply Accounting, M.Y.O.B and Quick Books can all do a reasonable job for clients with modest accounting needs.

 

As long as the effort to re-enter your accounting data manually to a new system is not too daunting, then this can be a fairly painless way to convert to Windows. The other advantage to these mass produced products is that they are common enough now to prompt Community Colleges to include them in their course selections. This means that training costs can be minimized.

 

Unfortunately, other than these simple alternatives most Windows Based software with capabilities similar to Libra is generally a lot more expensive and in some cases a little unstable as well. Budgets, however conservative, for such conversions tend to be underestimated to a large extent. I Know of a least one client whose $100,000 budget had exceeded $500,000 about the last time I talked to him. Shortly thereafter he was no longer with the company.

 

So what do you do? Well for the next few years Libra should remain quite workable, so there is no need to rush into new software. In the meantime large companies like AccPac backed by Computer Associates and Great Plains, backed by Microsoft will continue to develop their products and gain market share. Hopefully this will lead to better and more stable products at a reasonable cost. We are continuing our search for a solid alternative and will let you know as soon as we locate one that will work as well as Libra.