Author: Josh

What does it mean when Microsoft discontinues a product?

As an I.T. administrator any time a product is announced to be discontinued a slew of emails come in asking me “what do we do!?” It may seem like you’re being bullied into upgrading but that’s not at all the case. Any company has to cycle out old products to focus on new products. That’s all they’re doing. They support products as long as possible but there comes a time when they must refocus their efforts on bigger and better things. On the other hand when they start popping up notices every time you turn on your computer, that’s a bit more invasive.

It was sad to see the once great Windows XP operating system lose support back on April 8th, 2014, but even 3 years later I still see it frequently in use. Is that a concern? Well, yes and no. It really depends on how it’s used. I wouldn’t suggest using your Windows XP system to surf the web any longer. Fewer browsers are supporting updates, anti-virus solutions are slowly moving away from supporting XP and as a result it’s slowly becoming obsolete and more of a security risk in business environments. However, some smaller companies that depend on software that’s tried and true on their XP systems sometimes experience large costs associated with being forced to upgrade. With proper precautions these systems can still be safely utilized. For starters up to date anti-virus is a must. Content filtering is also a good idea just to prevent idle hands from visiting dangerous places on the internet. Whether it’s an operating system or software, just because it’s being discontinued doesn’t mean you have to upgrade immediately. They’re not going to automatically uninstall it from your system, they’re just not going to offer any further updates nor offer answers to any questions you may have about that particular software. Take the upcoming End of Life for Microsoft Office 2007 on October 10th, 2017 for example, the last major update was back on October 25th, 2011. Likely every possible question you could have about Office 2007 is already answered somewhere online. So, although Microsoft is saying they’re discontinuing the product in a few months, it has not needed much support for several years now.

Once discontinued a product will eventually become obsolete. That’s the point at which upgrading does make sense. As I said earlier, XP’s browser options are diminishing which makes surfing the internet difficult. Forget about Internet Explorer 8, you’d have to use FireFox to view most websites these days on a Windows XP system. But, eventually no browsers will offer a good web experience on XP, making upgrading to a newer OS a necessary decision. To sum it all up, don’t concern yourself too much about End of Life notices. Don’t brush them off completely, but you have plenty of time to figure out an upgrade plan.

Shared Short Codes Are Going Bye Bye!

What is a “Shared Short Code” you ask? If you have a cell phone, you have seen a Shared Short Code at some point. Look at the hundreds of text messages you’ve got, go ahead, I’ll wait… Somewhere in there (unless you delete all of your texts and keep it cleaner than 99% of people) you very likely have an automated text message from a phone number with only 5 or 6 digits, for example 95577 is our Shared Short Code, err was our Shared Short Code. Normal U.S. phone numbers are 11 digits, Country Code (1), Area Code (3), Prefix (3), and Line Number (4).

Parts of a Phone Number

Yet there are those 5 or 6 digit Short Codes that are usually from large companies sending you service or appointment reminders, or coupons for a burrito, etc.. Those Short Codes can be expensive, so many smaller companies would get together and share one Short Code.

A Shared Short Code allowed hundreds if not thousands of companies to use the same Short Code by texting a unique keyword, something like “PIZZA” to 97575, which would indicate what company you’re messaging. For example Users texting PIZZA would be placed into the pizzerias contacts/subscribers list, texting CAR would place them into the dealerships, texting HOUSE would place them into the realtors, you get the point. However, even though this method allowed many companies to have access to inexpensive texting programs by a single shared code, each company had to have their own separate opt in list of subscribers. So, that meant just because you texted PIZZA to 97575, that only allows that pizzeria to solicit to you, not the dealership and not that realtor. Well, thanks to some abusers doing massive illegal marketing campaigns, sending texts to people that never opted in, cell phone carriers have decided to put a stop to Shared Short Codes.

Trumpia, a major Short Code provider, recently stated in an email sent June 26th, 2019:
“Even before this announcement, shared short codes were at risk of a single user misusing them, leading to carriers shutting down the entire code. This would negatively impact hundreds of users because of the action of one.”

What’s does all of this mean?!?!?

Well, those huge conglomerates that could afford to have a dedicated Short Code won’t be affected at all, they can keep on using their fancy 5 digit texting number. But, for us guys that don’t want to dish out $1,000 a month for that fancy 5 digit number, we’ll be forced to use toll-free like numbers for these programs. Shared Short Codes will no longer be allowed by cell phone carriers, but they understand legitimate business depend on these programs, so they are issuing groups of 800 numbers to be distributed to each individual business. This will allow Texting providers the ability to lock down offenders without affecting everyone else.

Do you have a Shared Short Code and need assistance transitioning? Total PC has been programming custom texting applications, APIs, and more for over a decade. Shoot us a message and we’ll get to work.