You make a fairly valid point, but how far back are you expecting this software to work for? You said it was 'universally understood' that if a program did not list its requirements then it would work on 'all' versions... All versions?? What, way back to version 1?
Sorry, I should have been more clear. There is much more compatibility between the Windows 9x line and the NT line than there was between the 3x and 9x lines. For many years, most Windows programs would work on both 9x and NT. While you could argue that "all" should include Windows 3x and before, very few programs seemed to support it after the 9x line came out, at least from what I can see.
If you are going to try and run a piece of software that was written in the last year or so, it clearly was not written to run on a pc running an 11 year old OS. One would assume it runs on the 'current' populous, with all the latest updates. That to me would be the assumption (but not necessarily correct). But to assume it will work on 'all versions of Windows' I think it wrong.
Many programs still work on 98. Media players, video converters/joiners, download managers like Net Transport, art/paint programs (I've tried out at least four in the last few months), voice chat software, Total Commander, many (most?) emulators, most archivers, most command line software ported from *nix, CD/DVD burning software, many freeware/shareware games, etc.
For example; FotoSketcher, a program to turn images into simulated oil paintings or pencil sketches;http://www.fotosketcher.com/
The Softpedia download page lists the requirements as "Windows All", and it works perfectly under 98. Some of the other download sites explicitly list 98 as being supported.
Every single program on the Boilsoft website lists 98 as the minimum required OS;http://www.boilsoft.com/
DVD Regions + CSS Free still supports 98;http://www.dvdidle.com/dvd-region-free.htm
So it's really not that
far-fetched that I thought these tiny little prgrams mght have worked under 98.
As a software developer it's neither cost effective nor sometimes even technically possible to write software that works on XP, for example and also runs on 98. They are simply too different.
Then list the minimum requirements as XP and I wouldn't even look twice at it.
Now that Windows 7 is out, how are W7 users supposed to know if your software will work on it, if there are no requirements listed? Your program could be a slightly older one that was released right before W7 came out. Conversely, how will XP users know that it wasn't written exclusively for W7? Listing the system requirements, or at least mentioning what OS versions it was tested under is just a generally good idea. When was the last time you picked up a commercial package in a store, either a game or app, and the box just said "For Windows" on it? Most of them not only list the windows version, CPU speed, amount of memory, etc, but also what graphics cards they were tested on, what sound cards etc.
Considering the age of Win9x (and that Microsoft has dropped support for it)
Microsoft would have dropped XP like a hot potato the day Vista was released, if they had their way.
I'll let you in on a little secret; Microsoft doesn't want anyone
using anything but the latest version of Windows. They want every single computer user to upgrade whether they want or need to. If they thought they could get away with it, they'd have a remote killswitch in Windows that disabled the whole OS and flashed a giant message saying "BUY THE LATEST VERSION!" as soon as a new version came out.
Their entire business model depends on people continuously buying essentially the same thing over and over. Every version gets more and more bloated and has more annoying features that you can't turn off.
I guess you should implicitly assume that software doesn't
support it - and software authors can then list Win9x explicitly if they went through the hell of supporting that old crap
It's funny, everyone else I know is using XP and they have almost daily problems with their systems. They take several minutes to boot, respond slowly to mouse clicks, get infected with viruses, even while running respected commercial anti-virus programs like McAffee or Kaspersky. They end up re-installing them every six months or so. I've been using this system for at least five years now and the only major problems I've had have come from installing software that takes it upon itself to "update" some of the system files, or install system-wide codecs, replacing the perfectly good ones I already have installed. It boots fast and is pretty much stable under most daily conditions.
My biggest source of problems is Adobe's piece of s*** Flash, which crashes on a regular basis. The older versions (back around 7 or 8 ) never gave me any problems, but since installing v9, it's been a royal pain in the ass. I used to be able to open 5-6 YouTube videos, pause them all and let them download in the background (since YouTube's servers seem to be permanently set at about 25K/s), but now, just opening one video causes my entire system to lag for a minute or two until the video starts, then it stutters like crazy. Half the time, it's faster to just download the video and play it in MPC/ffdshow, where it plays perfectly.
Newer isn't always better...