Forward Compatible

What Does Forward Compatible Mean?

Forward compatible is the ability of an IT system to be compatible with or to support a similar version of itself in the future.


Unlike backward compatibility, forward compatibility ensures the integration of or interoperability support for newer versions of an IT system with existing ones.

Forward compatible is also known as upward compatible, future-time compatible or newer-version compatible.

Techopedia Explains Forward Compatible

Forward compatibility primarily ensures that an existing IT system is able to operate with subsequent releases of itself. This compatibility is planned out during the system design phase. Typically, to support forward compatibility, the hardware/software must also be backward compatible.

Forward compatibility in software means that, besides supporting its own successive versions, the software must be able to run on newer hardware/processors/devices. The software must be compatible with other related software applications to be developed after the current version. Similarly for hardware, forward compatibility means the hardware should be able to run newer software or applications and be compatible with other hardware devices.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…