You can't avoid upgrading indefinitely!
8i has been obsoleted this whole Century.
I bet you just can't get there from here.
Hmm maybe not. But we won't be upgrading as our main system is changing and will be SQL back end. Just need to migrate legacy data.
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In the Oracle world SQL*Client inter-operate within 2 major releases.
V7 can work with V9; but not V10
V8 can work with V10; but not V11
Similar is true when discussing underlying OS version.
No upwards compatibility is ever guaranteed.
8i is desupported, that's true, but when running this old release I think you do not really take care about supported releases. Unfortunately you didn't state on which platform your 8i is running. Maybe you could use HSODBC in 8i which was shipped on some platforms like Windows, Solaris, HP-UX and AIX. So that might be an option for you. The other alternative would be to change the driving site and let SQL Server fetch the data. Just in that case you only need to install a compatible Oracle client on the SQL Server box (compatible means certified for the OS where the SQL Server is running and also a client that can connect to the old 8i database) which contains the ODBC driver and/or the OLEDB driver and then connect to the Oracle database from the SQL Server using SQL Server Linked Server mechanism.