Backward compatibility (sometimes backwards compatibility) is a property of a system, product, or technology that allows for interoperability with an older legacy system, or with input designed for such a system, especially in telecommunications and computing. Backward compatibility is sometimes also called downward compatibility.
Modifying a system in a way that does not allow backward compatibility is sometimes called "breaking" backward compatibility.
A complementary concept is forward compatibility. A design that is forward-compatible usually has a roadmap for compatibility with future standards and products.
In programming jargon, the concept is sometimes referred to as hysterical reasons or hysterical raisins, homophones for "historical reasons".
There are several incentives for a company to implement backward compatibility. Backward compatibility can be used to preserve older software that would have otherwise been lost when a manufacturer decides to stop supporting older hardware. Classic video games are a common example used when discussing the value of supporting older software. The cultural impact of video games is a large part of their continued success, and some believe ignoring backward compatibility would cause these titles to disappear.Backward compatibility also acts as an additional selling point for new hardware, as an existing player base can more affordably upgrade to subsequent generations of a console. This also helps to make up for a lack of content in the early launch of new systems, as users can pull from the previous console's large library of games while developers slowly transition to the new hardware.
One example of this is the Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2) which was backward compatible with games for its predecessor PlayStation (PS1). While the selection of PS2 games available at launch was small, sales of the console were nonetheless strong in 2000-2001 thanks to the large library of games for the preceding PS1. This bought time for the PS2 to grow a large installed base and developers to release more quality PS2 games for the crucial 2001 holiday season.
Additionally, and despite not being included at launch, Microsoft slowly incorporated backward compatibility for select titles on the Xbox One several years into its product life cycle.Players have racked up over a billion hours with backward compatible games on Xbox, and it is anticipated that next generation consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will also support this feature. A large part of the success and implementation of this feature is that the hardware within newer generation consoles is both powerful and similar enough to legacy systems that older titles can be broken down and re-configured to run on the Xbox One. The backward compatibility program not only supports the previous generation Xbox 360, but also titles from the original Xbox system. Some titles are even given slight visual improvements and additional levels at no cost to the user. This program has proven incredibly popular with Xbox players and goes against the recent trend of studio made remasters of classic titles, creating what some believe to be an important shift in console maker's strategies.
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The literal costs of supporting old software is considered a large drawback to the usage of backward compatibility.The associated costs of backward compatibility are a higher bill of materials if hardware is required to support the legacy systems; increased complexity of the product that may lead to longer time to market, technological hindrances, and slowing innovation; and increased expectations from users in terms of compatibility. Because of this, several gaming consoles chose to phase out backward compatibility toward the end of the console generation in order to reduce cost and briefly re-invigorate sales before the arrival of newer hardware.
A notable example is the Sony PlayStation 3, [ citation needed ]as the first PS3 iteration was expensive to manufacture in part due to including the Emotion Engine from the preceding PS2 in order to run PS2 games, since the PS3 architecture was completely different from the PS2. Subsequent PS3 hardware revisions have eliminated the Emotion Engine as it saved production costs while removing the ability to run PS2 titles, as Sony found out that backward compatibility was not a major selling point for the PS3 in contrast to the PS2. The PS3's chief competitor, the Microsoft Xbox 360, took a different approach to backward compatibility by using software emulation in order to run games from the first Xbox, rather than including legacy hardware from the original Xbox which was quite different from the Xbox 360, however Microsoft stopped releasing emulation profiles after 2007.
However, with the current decline in physical game sales and the rise of digital storefronts and downloads, some believe backwards compatibility will soon be as obsolete as the phased-out consoles it supports.Many game studios are re-mastering and re-releasing their most popular titles by improving the quality of graphics and adding new content. These remasters have found success by appealing both to nostalgic players who remember enjoying the original versions when they were younger, and to newcomers who may not have had the original system it was released on. For most consumers, digital remasters are more appealing than hanging on to bulky cartridges and obsolete hardware. For the manufacturers of consoles, digital re-releases of classic titles are a large benefit. It not only removes the financial drawbacks of supporting older hardware, but also shifts all of the costs of updating software to the developers. The manufacturer gets a new addition to their system with strong name recognition, and the studio does not have to completely develop a game from the ground up.
A simple example of both backward and forward compatibility is the introduction of FM radio in stereo. FM radio was initially mono, with only one audio channel represented by one signal. With the introduction of two-channel stereo FM radio, many listeners had only mono FM receivers. Forward compatibility for mono receivers with stereo signals was achieved through sending the sum of both left and right audio channels in one signal and the difference in another signal. That allows mono FM receivers to receive and decode the sum signal while ignoring the difference signal, which is necessary only for separating the audio channels. Stereo FM receivers can receive a mono signal and decode it without the need for a second signal, and they can separate a sum signal to left and right channels if both sum and difference signals are received. Without the requirement for backward compatibility, a simpler method could have been chosen.
Full backward compatibility is particularly important in computer instruction set architectures, one of the most successful being the x86 family of microprocessors. Their full backward compatibility spans back to the 16-bit Intel 8086/8088 processors introduced in 1978. (The 8086/8088, in turn, were designed with easy machine-translatability of programs written for its predecessor in mind, although they were not instruction-set compatible with the 8-bit Intel 8080 processor as of 1974. The Zilog Z80, however, was fully backwards compatible with the Intel 8080.) Fully backwards compatible processors can process the same binary executable software instructions as their predecessors, allowing the use of a newer processor without having to acquire new applications or operating systems.Similarly, the success of the Wi-Fi digital communication standard is attributed to its broad forward and backward compatibility; it became more popular than other standards that were not backward compatible.
Compiler backward compatibility may refer to the ability of a compiler of a newer version of the language to accept programs or data that worked under the previous version. [ page needed ]
A data format is said to be backward compatible with its predecessor if every message or file that is valid under the old format is still valid, retaining its meaning under the new format.
A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.
Forward compatibility or upward compatibility is a design characteristic that allows a system to accept input intended for a later version of itself. The concept can be applied to entire systems, electrical interfaces, telecommunication signals, data communication protocols, file formats, and programming languages. A standard supports forward compatibility if a product that complies with earlier versions can "gracefully" process input designed for later versions of the standard, ignoring new parts which it does not understand.
The PlayStation 3 system software (XrossMediaBar) is the updatable firmware and operating system of the PlayStation 3. The base operating used by Sony for the PlayStation 3 is a fork of both FreeBSD and NetBSD called CellOS.
The seventh generation of video game consoles began on November 22, 2005, with the release of Microsoft's Xbox 360 home console. This was soon followed by the release of Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 3 on November 17, 2006 and Nintendo's Wii on November 19, 2006, the following year. Each new console introduced new technologies. The Xbox 360 offered games rendered natively at high-definition video (HD) resolutions, the PlayStation 3 offered HD movie playback via a built-in 3D Blu-ray Disc player, and the Wii focused on integrating controllers with movement sensors as well as joysticks. Some Wii controllers could be moved about to control in-game actions, which enabled players to simulate real-world actions through movement during gameplay. By this generation, video game consoles had become an important part of the global IT infrastructure; it is estimated that video game consoles represented 25% of the world's general-purpose computational power in 2007.
The Xbox 360 system software or the Xbox 360 Dashboard is the updateable software and operating system for the Xbox 360. It formerly resided in a 16 MB file system. However, starting with the NXE Update, more storage became a requirement, rectified by either having a Hard Drive installed, or one of the later revisions of the console with adequate flash storage embedded within the console. The system software has access to a maximum of 32 MB of the system's Random Access Memory. The updates can be downloaded from the Xbox Live service directly to the Xbox 360 and subsequently installed. Microsoft has also provided the ability to download system software updates from their respective official Xbox website to their PCs and then storage media, from which the update can be installed to the system.
The PlayStation 2 is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released in Japan on March 4, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, and in Europe and Australia on November 24, 2000, and is the successor to the original PlayStation, as well as the second installment in the PlayStation console line-up. A sixth-generation console, it competed with Sega's Dreamcast, Nintendo's GameCube, and Microsoft's original Xbox.
The Xbox is a home video game console and the first installment in the Xbox series of video game consoles manufactured by Microsoft. It was released as Microsoft's first foray into the gaming console market on November 15, 2001, in North America, followed by Australia, Europe and Japan in 2002. It is classified as a sixth generation console, competing with Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube. It was also the first major console produced by an American company since the Atari Jaguar ceased production in 1996.
A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing device to emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications, one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or more rare consoles.
Platform exclusivity refers to the status of a video game being developed for and released only on certain platforms. Most commonly, it refers to only being released on a specific video game console or through a specific vendor's platforms—either permanently, or for a definite period of time.
A home video game console or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.
The eighth generation of consoles includes consoles released since 2012 by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony. For home video game consoles, the eighth generation began on November 18, 2012, with the release of the Wii U, and continued with the release of the PlayStation 4 (PS4) on November 15, 2013, and the Xbox One on November 22, 2013. The Wii U was the first home console of this generation to be discontinued, on January 31, 2017, to make way for Nintendo's second home console competitor, the Nintendo Switch, released on March 3, 2017. These video game consoles follow their seventh generation predecessors from the same three companies: Nintendo's Wii, Sony's PlayStation 3, and Microsoft's Xbox 360. Throughout the generation, Sony and Microsoft continued to release hardware upgrades to their flagship consoles. In August 2016 and September 2016, Microsoft and Sony respectively both released "slim" revisions of their consoles, the Xbox One S and the PlayStation 4 Slim. The Xbox One S notably added support for HDR video and Ultra HD Blu-ray, while Sony released a software update to add HDR to all existing PlayStation 4 consoles; the PlayStation 4 Slim does not support UHD Blu-ray. Following this was an upgraded version of the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro, which was released later in November 2016; meanwhile, Microsoft also announced an upgraded version of the Xbox One in 2016 under the name Project Scorpio. This would become the Xbox One X, released a year later in November 2017. Both of these consoles were aimed at providing upgraded hardware to support rendering games at up to 4K resolution.
The PlayStation Vita system software is the official firmware and operating system for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV video game consoles. It uses the LiveArea as its graphical shell. The PlayStation Vita system software has one optional add-on component, the PlayStation Mobile Runtime Package. The system is built on a Unix-base which is derived from FreeBSD and NetBSD.
Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. It represents a series of video game consoles developed by Microsoft, with three consoles released in the sixth, seventh, and eighth generations, respectively. The brand also represents applications (games), streaming services, an online service by the name of Xbox Live, and the development arm by the name of Xbox Game Studios. The brand was first introduced in the United States in November 2001, with the launch of the original Xbox console.
The PlayStation 4 system software is the updatable firmware and operating system of the PlayStation 4. The operating system is Orbis OS, based on FreeBSD 9.
The Xbox One is an eighth-generation home video game console developed by Microsoft. Announced in May 2013, it is the successor to Xbox 360 and the third console in the Xbox series of video game consoles. It was first released in North America, parts of Europe, Australia, and South America in November 2013, and in Japan, China, and other European countries in September 2014. It is the first Xbox game console to be released in China, specifically in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. Microsoft marketed the device as an "all-in-one entertainment system", hence the name 'Xbox One'. The Xbox One mainly competes against Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Wii U and Switch.
The Xbox One system software, sometimes called the Xbox OS, or Xbox Dashboard, is the operating system developed exclusively for the Xbox One consoles. It is a Microsoft Windows-based operating system using the Hyper-V virtual machine monitor and contains separate operating systems for games and applications that can run on the console. It is located on the internal HDD for day-to-day usage, while also being duplicated on the internal NAND storage of the console for recovery purposes and factory reset functionality.
The PlayStation 5 is an upcoming home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Announced in 2019 as the successor to the PlayStation 4, it is scheduled to launch in late 2020. The platform is anticipated to launch in two varieties, as a base PlayStation 5 system incorporating an Ultra HD Blu-ray compatible optical disc drive for retail game support alongside digital distribution via the PlayStation Store, and a lower-cost Digital variant lacking the disc drive while retaining digital download support.
The Xbox Series X is an upcoming home video game console developed by Microsoft. It was announced during E3 2019 as "Project Scarlett" and is scheduled for release in late 2020.
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