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Just how desperate is Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) to get customers to relinquish their death grip on its nearly decade-and-a-half old operating system, Windows XP?  It's now offering customers $100 USD to get rid of their old Windows XP PC -- although some restrictions do apply.
 
The caveat is that you have to trade in your computer at a Microsoft Store, and you have to buy a new Windows 8.1 machine that costs $599 USD or more (limiting the maximum discount is roughly 16 percent).
 
The good news is that most of the laptops and desktops at Microsoft stores are relatively new, so it's unlikely that Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN), Newegg, and other online retailers will be able to offer a better deal, on average.
 
Microsoft has previously offered a $50 USD gift card for those who traded in XP machines.  By contrast the new deal is simply a direct discount, redeemable instantly off your purchase.

Windows 8.1 discount

The initiative won't likely do Microsoft any great favors financially, given that it already was rumored to have cut Windows 8.1 licensing fees on low cost machines from $50 USD to $15 USD (which would indicate an $85 USD loss on the current deal, if accurate).  But the deal isn't quite that bad for Microsoft as it creates goodwill with its OEM allies who are grumbling about the impact of poor Windows 8.x sales on their bottom line.  Plus Windows 8 comes with the Windows Store, and Microsoft gets a cut of app revenue
 
Windows 8.1 has been met with tepid casual consumer and enthusiast response, outside of tablet devices, which seem to perform quite well with the new Metro user interface.  Microsoft has promised for a second time to repair Windows 8 for non-touch devices with the Windows 8.1 Update 1 and future follow-ups later this year.
 
Windows XP computers are still found in vast quantities in many parts of the world.  While they're now in the minority in the U.S., Microsoft's figures suggest that when the April termination of support for the platform rolls around 65 percent of users in China -- the world's most populous nation -- will still be using Windows XP.  Unfortunately there's not enough $100 USD discounts to solve that dilemma.

Source: Microsoft Store



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Why not just...
By Zak on 3/21/2014 3:31:14 PM , Rating: 2
Why not just give away Windows 8 for free? It's not exactly like 8 is a freaking bestseller, but for free a lot of people might go for it.




RE: Why not just...
By SteelRing on 3/21/2014 3:44:49 PM , Rating: 5
You couldn't pay me enough to make me use Win8


RE: Why not just...
By DT_Reader on 3/21/2014 3:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
Besides, many if not most XP machines won't run Vista, let alone 8.


RE: Why not just...
By StevoLincolnite on 3/22/2014 6:53:27 AM , Rating: 5
Windows 8 is actually lighter than Windows 7 which was in turn lighter than Windows Vista.

I have an Intel Atom 330 ITX machine still kicking around, it crumpled, whined and churned whilst complaining until the cows came home under Windows Vista.

But under Windows 8? It's actually a fairly snappy machine.
On an Atom N470 Netbook, Windows 8 actually gave me a good 15+ minuets of extra battery life.

The other bonus is, it boots fast, even on antiquated 5400rpm mechanical storage.

The downside is Metro. :(
But I can live with 3rd party tools to remove that and enjoy the added benefits the OS brings.


RE: Why not just...
By AssBall on 3/22/2014 10:40:47 AM , Rating: 2
I'd be happy to trade 2 Windows XP licenses for another or a cheaper 8.1 license, but I am certainly not going to buy a 600$ machine. This marketing effort just seems odd to me.


RE: Why not just...
By Mitch101 on 3/22/2014 11:15:06 AM , Rating: 4
I loaded up Windows 8.1 a couple weeks ago. The boot times are surprisingly better than Windows 7 even on SSD. Just a few seconds but noticeable.

The complaints I had about Windows 8 are gone.

On the taskbar you can set it to drop you back to desktop instead of the start menu which was my biggest complaint about Windows 8.

The Start Screen is no longer annoying.

Every application installed doesn't automatically get added to the start screen there is a down arrow that takes you to all your stuff from there I pin items I need to the taskbar and possible use items to the start screen. Icons can be small and Im not close to filling up my start screen. Think of it as a desktop full of icons and tiles. The good is its not filled with junk like uninstallers and help files and those programs that you want the one icon but they added 7 for variations you'll never use or want. It really does cut down on the clutter. I rarely use start however I look at the start screen as I don't have to go to start -- all programs -- find what Im looking for because they put it under the vendor name not the application name. I just go to start now and its like having a desktop full of icons of just the apps Im looking for or think of it as the start menu fully expanded for you making it easy to find what your looking for. I think its really good and Im not sure Ill ever fill it up enough to have to scroll to the right ever again. With Windows 8 start got cluttered with junk way too easily and the icons were too big. Windows 8 start was fat with 8.1 its on a diet and it works.

File Copy is a very overlooked item its quite nice to be able to pause.

Mount ISO's or burn them is built in. I thought mount ISO was in 7 but seems its not. Must have had an app loaded in 7 when I did that.

I also uninstalled all the default apps I don't want or need like the e-mail app since I installed office anyhow. This prevented any annoying things like when I clicked on an e-mail link of it taking me to the default app when I had office installed. Duh Microsoft.

I do see the use in metro on the desktop now as I use triple screens. I can leave the start screen up on my right screen which is kind of like having news feeds running with tidbits of information. (Weather, X-Box feed, Latest news from two sources) I will be looking for an RSS feeder though.

The only complaint I can imagine people still having is they want the old start menu that's it but the new start menu is not bad at all in 8.1.


RE: Why not just...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/22/14, Rating: -1
RE: Why not just...
By Mitch101 on 3/22/2014 2:56:22 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't think the start issue everyone was complaining about was that big of a deal because there are free options to get the classic start back. Just like if your not a fan of IE you can load up firefox or chrome.

Ill give you props the complaints were heard although for those who loved XP and 7 I see no reason why Microsoft just cant offer a classic mode to those who want it instead of trying to force people into metro. Would have saved a lot of grief. They should take a page from Linux where I can choose the interface of Gnome or KDE. Microsoft should do the same for those who don't want Metro.

BTW Right click on the Start Button for things like shutdown, control panel, networking, event viewer that's so cool.


RE: Why not just...
By KOOLTIME on 3/22/2014 2:36:48 PM , Rating: 3
False Article description,

They are not giving you 100 cash, its a discount credit to a new purchase.

If giving away no strings attached, everyone would go hit up the junk yards, i know of one near buy has few thousand old broken PC's they will get rid of for free. Toss em in a truck drive to store, collect few thousand bucks, for drive load effort.

Its a strings attached purchase discount, have to buy a new computer of 600 or more to even be considered for it.

Its a sales tactic nothing more.


RE: Why not just...
By Arkive on 3/24/2014 12:18:35 PM , Rating: 1

Ugh, don't be so literal. It's called marketing. They're offering $100 to upgrade to a new PC that replaces your old one. There's technically no inaccuracy in the title, and they didn't say "cash" as you suggest either.


RE: Why not just...
By sprockkets on 3/24/2014 4:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Windows 8 is actually lighter than Windows 7 which was in turn lighter than Windows Vista.


It litteraly took a new laptop I worked on six and a half hours to update a win8 machine to 8.1. In contrast, it took only 5 minutes to update a Nexus tablet from 4.3 to 4.4.

"Light" is a relative term. In this case win8 lost a few hundred pounds and now weights 29560 instead of 29660.


RE: Why not just...
By StevoLincolnite on 3/26/2014 1:16:41 AM , Rating: 2
Took me about 5-10 minuets to upgrade from windows 7 to windows 8 on my tablet.
But that was directly off a USB 3.0 flash drive.


RE: Why not just...
By Zaranthos on 3/21/2014 5:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah I'd pay more just to avoid Windows 8.1 with its Fischer Price buttons and ribbon bars. When did abandoning the English language for cave drawings and Egyptian hieroglyphics become more productive?


RE: Why not just...
By HostileEffect on 3/21/2014 9:24:01 PM , Rating: 2
I only reinstalled windows 8.1 on someones laptop because HP wants to be tards and not support their products with windows 7 drivers.

THAT IS THE ONLY REASON WHY!


RE: Why not just...
By hpglow on 3/22/2014 2:08:50 AM , Rating: 4
All my PCs have win 7 x64 or Linux (servers). With exception of the surface pro 2. Anyway, I think if I was paid to use it I would. I might give it a test run on one of my desktops if it were free. But if I were being handed money to use win 8 I think I could figure out how to install Start8 or one of the other over ride hacks out there. You guys are just being a bunch of whinny vaginas just because it is hip to beat on win 8 right now.


RE: Why not just...
By AssBall on 3/22/14, Rating: -1
RE: Why not just...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/22/14, Rating: -1
RE: Why not just...
By DocScience on 3/22/2014 8:14:11 PM , Rating: 1
ONE MILLION DOLLARS

would that do it?


RE: Why not just...
By BZDTemp on 3/22/2014 12:57:10 PM , Rating: 2
Considering the state of PC sales the Win8 is actually doing pretty well so I doubt Microsoft is that desperate. Besides since most people don't upgrade anything on their computers be it software or hardware, except what they are force feed in the way of updates then giving Win8 away won't really do much difference.


So....
By CaedenV on 3/21/2014 2:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
If I slap a copy of XP on a PC in the basement I can get a discount on a Surface pro?

... tempting




RE: So....
By DT_Reader on 3/21/2014 2:39:39 PM , Rating: 2
At $100 off, a Surface Pro is still overpriced. It's a nice machine and I wouldn't mind if someone gave me one, but if I want nice but overpriced hardware I'll buy Apple.


RE: So....
By w8gaming on 3/21/2014 2:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
Surface Pro is now $599 at Microsoft Store. Another $100 discount would have got it to $499. You can spend the same amount of money and get a 16GB device from Apple. Unless you are really referring to Surface Pro 2.


RE: So....
By DT_Reader on 3/21/2014 3:45:53 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
you have to buy a new Windows 8.1 machine that costs $599 USD or more


A Surface Pro is not a Windows 8.1 machine, so it doesn't qualify. So yes, I meant Surface Pro 2.


RE: So....
By Nutzo on 3/21/2014 4:12:09 PM , Rating: 2
I predict alot of old, wothless (think P3 or low-end p4) XP systems will be traded in by people who where already going to buy a new laptop anyways.


By sparkuss on 3/21/2014 3:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't reloaded an old Laptop to Win7 because it can only run 2gb max ram. But I don't see $100 discount off of $599+ making me throw away a perfectly good 17" laptop.

Wouldn't they get some mileage out of recycling/discounting software as well?




By Fritzr on 3/22/2014 3:36:46 AM , Rating: 3
The RAM requirement for Vista and later is 1GB minimum and 2GB recommended. No need to throw the old laptop away, just install a newer version of Windows.

Old versions of software are less dangerous than an internet connected OS that has known security flaws and a no update policy.

Upgrade to Win7 and add the WinXP VM ... download that now before that offer expires and put it on the laptop after upgrading to Win7. That way you can still use the old XP software that doesn't like 7, while still enjoying the security of a supported OS.

In other news, major botnet infestations have been identified as being hosted by old unpatched & unsupported Linux installations. So don't feel that XP is being unfairly picked on, this is a known security problem for the internet as a whole.


By Silver2k7 on 3/25/2014 5:38:39 AM , Rating: 2
"The RAM requirement for Vista and later is 1GB minimum and 2GB recommended. No need to throw the old laptop away, just install a newer version of Windows."

Things like that is what most people complained about.. Vista with 4GB RAM isnt too bad, 8GB is probably more optimal.

There is a 2GB WinXp computer at work its slow as ***k.
of course the CPU probably have something to do with it also.


By ppi on 3/22/2014 6:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But I don't see $100 discount off of $599+ making me throw away a perfectly good 17" laptop.

You just nailed the reason of poor PC sales (incl. notebooks).

You can run Vista on 2gb RAM (albeit slowly), so Win8 (which is much more efficient) should be able to handle it reasonably.


whaT?
By p05esto on 3/21/14, Rating: 0
RE: whaT?
By DT_Reader on 3/21/2014 3:43:02 PM , Rating: 2
My 10 year old is using a hand-me-down XP netbook (handed down from my wife). That old thing won't run Vista or 7. In two weeks it's junk. But we don't have another PC just laying around waiting to be handed down to her, so she's out of luck. No big deal, I just wanted to point out a particular case where upgrading the OS is not an option. Must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of XP computers out there that can't run Vista or 7. Linux is an option, but probably not practical for the sort of people who are still on XP.


RE: whaT?
By fic2 on 3/21/2014 4:07:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In two weeks it's junk.


Why is it junk in two weeks? It's not like it is going to stop working. MS just won't support it. I doubt your 10 yo will care if MS supports it or not.


RE: whaT?
By althaz on 3/24/2014 9:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
Once support ends any internet-connected Windows XP machine will be compromised. There WILL be a raft of 0-days available after XP support ends and there will be no way to protect your PC.

Windows XP machines that aren't connected to the Internet are obvioulsy not a big deal - if they work they'll continue to do so, although I wouldn't plug USB drives into them before carefully checking them on another machine first.


RE: whaT?
By DominionSeraph on 3/22/2014 12:39:27 AM , Rating: 1
Boots in seconds, never had a non-OCing bluescreen in 7 years, uptime in months, haven't caught a bug in years, and fast as hell.
After a PSU fried I went from using Vista SP1 on a Raptor to XP on a Caviar Blue (both installs tweaked as far as possible), and I had had no idea the speed I was missing. XP is a dream.
It's paid for and it works. If you don't need >4GB RAM or DX10/11, what's the point in changing?


Still going strong
By SteelRing on 3/21/2014 3:28:34 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Lenovo thinkpad T43 circa 2005 running on Dothan and a budget PC built on Brisbane circa 2007. Both are running strong with boot up memory footprint less than 500MB each. I'll run them on XP until they die and I cannot fix it anymore, until then MS can suck my .....




Wonder what they will do with 7
By Hakuryu on 3/22/2014 12:14:08 PM , Rating: 2
Because imo, 7 is the new XP. Stable, fast, and does everything I want. I am NOT ever going to upgrade to 8, and from comments on many tech sites, others feel the same.

Unless 9 is a knockout, MS is going to have the same problem years from now with people still using 7, especially if they keep trying to ram Metro down people's throats.




Desperate? Maybe
By cfaalm on 3/24/2014 11:02:48 AM , Rating: 2
I don't see how the word desperate gets in there. That's a perception. Of course if you were CEO of MS you'd want more W8 sales. In this case it's a question of moving forward and abandon XP, preferably to W8. What MS doesn't need is people complaining how insecure their unsupported XP is. How secure is OSX Snow Leopard these days?

I also don't get the W8 bashing. It takes some getting used to, that's it for me. It's no more shocking than going from XP to OSX Tiger. I see myself as an above average user, not a techie. I went from XP to W8, no problems.




They will need to pry it...
By Cluebat on 3/21/14, Rating: -1
RE: They will need to pry it...
By drycrust3 on 3/21/2014 2:25:26 PM , Rating: 5
I never thought fighting malware could have driven someone to such a tormented state they want to keep XP in favour of something better, but I guess I'm wrong.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By JediJeb on 3/21/2014 2:31:47 PM , Rating: 3
I don't get the whole fighting malware on XP thing. We have had maybe two cases of a computer with malware on it here in the lab in the last 10 years, and those were easy to fix. Where are all these people going on the net to get this stuff on their computers?


RE: They will need to pry it...
By tayb on 3/21/2014 2:41:14 PM , Rating: 5
The problem is that Microsoft has made it known they intend to end support for Windows XP. Malware writers, virus writers, and hackers have been sitting on new exploits waiting for Microsoft to end patch support. Who knows how many critical security vulnerabilities are waiting to be unleashed the week after Microsoft kills the platform.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Dorkyman on 3/21/14, Rating: 0
RE: They will need to pry it...
By tayb on 3/21/2014 4:44:09 PM , Rating: 4
Some people are allergic to facts.

The infection rate of Windows XP is growing despite Microsoft continuing to patch security flaws. After the EoL there will be no more patches. Gaping flaws in the security will be remain wide open. There is nothing that your anti-virus could do to help you.

I would expect more tech intelligence from a commenter on a tech site.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/21/14, Rating: 0
RE: They will need to pry it...
By NicodemusMM on 3/21/2014 10:16:27 PM , Rating: 4
MS is a business, not a charity. What you're suggesting is the equivalent to suggesting that a vehicle manufacturer should issue free new cars to people that need airbags and modern metallurgical advancements, but are happy with two-point restraints and collapsible steering wheels. Derp.
(and it seems you want this as an upgrade to the old vehicle, not a replacement. Über-derp)

Please start a business and apply this policy. Once you're bankrupt you'll have a better understanding of both finances and reality.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By name99 on 3/22/2014 1:25:03 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, Microsoft is a business.
Which means that, if they want that business to CONTINUE, they need to look carefully at WTF they are doing.

Right now, they are trying to sell an OS that MANY people are unwilling to pay $0 for. That's not a great place to be in. The BEST (of a bunch of bad) moves going forward may well be to give out Home Win8 for free to limit the defection of their user base.

They can then try to offer Win9 for a price --- and this time make it something people are WILLING to pay for. Or they can define the bare (consumer) OS as free forever from now on and charge for the stuff that makes it useful to businesses. Or they can decide that they are in the services business and charge subscriptions for Office 365 etc.

But their current trajectory is the stupidest of all possible paths. They're building up a pool of people who are going to hate them forever for how the XP thing was handled; they're bungling the chance to keep those people as Windows users rather than (eventually, when they replace the PC) Chrome or Android users.
They're continuing to try to avoid reality, to party like it's 1995 and the business models of that age are still viable when everyone else has moved on.

Being a business means making decisions based on hard REALITY and the future; not based on some sort of weird moral principles like "People who haven't upgraded since XP don't deserve our shiny new OS".

(And if there is such a large pool of people who have not bought ANYTHING you've tried to sell them in over ten years, doesn't that show that, just maybe, there is something wrong with your business model? Maybe it's your pricing, maybe it's the features you're adding, maybe it's the hassle of your licensing and upgrade process? But there is obviously something VERY wrong.)


By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/22/2014 6:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe when Gates gets back in. I've always had respect for him.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By ppi on 3/22/2014 6:15:16 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, M$ is a business. Therefore, while I am not happy with their decision, I understand it. Ultimately, for Win8 haters there's still Win7 available.

M$ has to spend ton of $$$ to maintain support for an OS, which security standards are outdated, and for which it will not incur new revenue. Last time I checked, XP does not require regular maintenance fee.

Windows territory are $500+ machines, which is tall order for most tablets and probably all Chromebooks. You are not going to pay that amount of money for glorified browser. Therefore, if you intend to replace your Windows machine with Chromebook/Android, you are not in their market anway, so zero revenue for M$ again.

Therefore, why they should want to support you?


RE: They will need to pry it...
By fenderkb76 on 3/25/2014 9:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, what a sloppy mess with how they've handled XP...giving users two years of warnings about the demise of the OS and even extending support on multiple occasions to appease the clientele. How dare they! I think I'm going to call the manufacturer of my car and demand continued free maintenance after 5 years because they owe it to me! I shouldn't have to pay one penny because I bought that car and I'm entitled for it to be maintained at their expense for the rest of my life.

I'm no Microsoft sympathizer, but I think all the people whining about the end of XP can stuff it. The OS has been around in the mainstream for way longer than it needed to be. Don't be lazy and move on. I use Windows 7 at work and I recently upgraded to 8.1 at home just to try it out. I like them both. I don't see a place for 8.1 in the workplace yet as we'd have to retrain all employees who already are mostly computer illiterate. However, I think 8.1 is great at home and we actually have a few users who remote in to the office from a Windows 8 machine.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Zaranthos on 3/21/2014 5:44:24 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, well I would argue that a lot of the XP base is not as tech savvy and therefore more prone to click that stupid malware box on the internet that infects their computer while the more tech savvy people tend to upgrade to something like Windows 7. Newer Windows versions may be technically more secure but the less tech savvy people just learn that if you want something to install you automatically click yes to the UAC warning which ends up being whenever it pops up anyway. Geeks upgrade to get new stuff while the masses will keep the old computer as long as it keeps doing Facebook and Farmville.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Belegost on 3/21/2014 2:37:53 PM , Rating: 4
Stockholm Syndrome - they have been captive to XP so long they think it really loves them.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By HoosierEngineer5 on 3/21/14, Rating: 0
RE: They will need to pry it...
By dew111 on 3/21/2014 5:55:51 PM , Rating: 2
So, you're 4 years late. Congratulations.


By LRonaldHubbs on 3/21/2014 6:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
Says the person who has never used Windows 7 before???
Or was that sarcasm?


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/21/14, Rating: -1
RE: They will need to pry it...
By Zorblack1 on 3/21/2014 2:34:13 PM , Rating: 1
Enjoy the virus(s) that steal everything about your identity and cryto lock your files.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Zak on 3/21/2014 3:31:46 PM , Rating: 2
For real? I mean, you can't be serious.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By HostileEffect on 3/21/2014 9:20:35 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, I don't let anyone tell me what I can and can't do with my property. The more someone tries to force me to do something the more I don't do it out of pure spite.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By NicodemusMM on 3/21/2014 9:55:50 PM , Rating: 2
Try putting that on my network or that of any security aware organization and then tell us that we can't tell you what to do with it.

:youhavenopowerhere:


By HostileEffect on 3/21/2014 11:22:06 PM , Rating: 2
Sigh... your network is not my network, I can't care any less about your network. In the event i am at insert random organization, I clearly don't own the computer, isn't my property, and I couldn't care less what they put on it!!!

No one tells me what do do with MY PROPERTY! I don't give a hoot about your property of anyone else's property.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By NicodemusMM on 3/21/2014 9:51:34 PM , Rating: 2
Good quote. I like this one, though.
"Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."

You know... like people that argue against almost every respectable and knowledgeable IT professional in order to keep their obsolete, bug-ridden, supremely compromised OS.
I get it, though. Change is scary and requires too much effort. Ignorance and complacency is so much easier.


RE: They will need to pry it...
By Cluebat on 3/23/14, Rating: 0
Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/21/14, Rating: -1
RE: Still not affordable
By Zorblack1 on 3/21/2014 2:39:50 PM , Rating: 4
The fact you don't know how computers can get infected and yet you seem to be in charge of some laboratory equipment scares me.

All products have a useful/supported life span. You have had years and years to have business workup a budget for replacement of EOL. Poor planning.

Prepare to be taken for a ride. FYI your Netgear Firewall/NAT is not going to save you.


RE: Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/21/2014 5:11:11 PM , Rating: 2
I know how computers can get infected, but you don't need laboratory computers that run equipment connected to the internet so we don't worry about that.


RE: Still not affordable
By Belegost on 3/21/2014 2:43:56 PM , Rating: 3
Does this equipment need to be connected to the internet? It's not as though end of support will suddenly cause the system to cease working, so as long as the equipment can be run without WAN access simply keeping it on a secure private network should be fine.

If you need WAN access - good luck.


RE: Still not affordable
By tayb on 3/21/2014 2:45:09 PM , Rating: 2
$6,800 to upgrade an operating system and two days of down time? What the hell are you doing? I could blow up the computer with dynamite for sport, order new parts from Amazon/Newegg, assemble a new machine, and re-install all of the software for a lower price and less downtime.

Do you mind telling me the labs you work for? I need to get in on this scam.

I am also extremely alarmed that you have some level of control over lab equipment and yet you do not see the urgency of upgrading a 13 year old operating system that is about to become the largest virus haven in computing history.


RE: Still not affordable
By 91TTZ on 3/21/2014 4:06:35 PM , Rating: 2
Tayb,

You don't seem to be familiar with laboratory/industrial settings. Often they run specialized software that was custom programmed a long time ago, and it's difficult to simply upgrade the OS without breaking that software.

My girlfriend works for the Navy and they run diagnostics software for the engines on helicopters on Windows 3.1. Why do they run this? Because when it was designed it worked perfectly fine and it still works perfectly fine. There is no need to upgrade.

Places like this exist all over the place, with computers running CT machines, CNC machines, mass spectrometers, engine diagnostics, etc. These computers run specialized software and aren't used for browsing the internet.


RE: Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/21/2014 5:32:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
$6,800 to upgrade an operating system and two days of down time? What the hell are you doing? I could blow up the computer with dynamite for sport, order new parts from Amazon/Newegg, assemble a new machine, and re-install all of the software for a lower price and less downtime.


Can you do all that and include an ISA port in the computer for the interface card, or supply the $6000 plus software upgrade from the equipment manufacturer along with setting it up to run the equipment?

quote:
Do you mind telling me the labs you work for? I need to get in on this scam.


I work for an environmental testing laboratory, one of the larger ones actually. We do things like test your drinking water to make sure it is safe to drink, or the waste waters to make sure people are not polluting the environment. The problem is those people want to pay the very least they can for that work, and there are always some person with a little lab in their garage trying to pull customers away, well until the customer gets a fine because those guys were running their samples without being certified to do so.

We run a several thousand samples per month, but the total revenue for a company like us is maybe $5M per year, not so much to work with when you could spend 20% of that to replace a couple pieces of equipment.

quote:
I am also extremely alarmed that you have some level of control over lab equipment and yet you do not see the urgency of upgrading a 13 year old operating system that is about to become the largest virus haven in computing history.


I would love to have everything running on new computers, but I can budget in to replace hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment because a few thousand dollars of computers are getting a little old. Heck we just got rid of our last W3.11 about 4 years ago and our last NT4 computers two years ago. We did manage to upgrade some of the old W95 computers to XP about 10 years ago which did help, but that still left us with slow computers(PII 300mhz) running XP.

The front office has all W7 boxes and all only a few years old, and we keep those up to date because those are the ones that face to the internet. In contrast I still have two in the lab stuck with XP SP2, because if you upgrade to SP3 the equipment control software just refuses to work, and if you try to reinstall it you get a warning that you are running SP3 and the install program ends. Call the vendor and they say "sorry we don't upgrade that any more, but you can purchase our new equipment, we will even give you a $10,000 trade in." Too bad that is less than 10% of the total cost.

Industrial/Laboratory setting are just different from other types of work that rely on computers :(


RE: Still not affordable
By Bubbacub on 3/22/2014 2:41:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why not run it under a virtual machine? If it connects via a parallel port you can use a USB to parallel adaptor + virtual machine. I use this to play around with an old original palm pilot On my Linux install.

If you need a 16 bit isa slot then I guess you are stuck.


RE: Still not affordable
By sorry dog on 3/23/2014 12:37:42 PM , Rating: 2
If your equipment will work with AMD stuff...I believe the Abit KT7A had one 16bit legacy slot, a couple usb ports, and even parallel and serial ports. It was quite snappy at 1.5ghz with some decent hard drives running XP and had 95/98 drivers as well. You can still find some rebuilt ones that have had the caps replaced. If you pay postage, I'll send you an old Thunderbird 1.33

I miss those days...hardware was much easier to deal with.


RE: Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/24/2014 4:24:46 PM , Rating: 2
On one piece of equipment we tried to install the software on W7 and it all went great until it started asking us to insert the floppy disk with the hardware drivers on it. We tried them on a USB stick but the install software is hard coded to look for drivers in A: directories. Tried remapping the USB port to A: but that didn't even work. Maybe if we had one of the USB attached floppy drives it could be made to work, but it may also be trying to go directly to the FDC on the motherboard.

As for compatibility Agilent in the last few years just started using control software that doesn't use the WoW(Windows on Windows) process, up until then it was all using a 16bit backbone with 32bit GUI or something like that. It was essentially the original DOS/Win3.11 version of software with just enough added to make it compatible with W95/WNT4/W2K/XP and now W7. They never marked any listed as compatible with W98 or Vista. The version compatible with XP SP2 was not compatible with SP3 and it even did a check when you start up the software, and if you upgraded to SP3 it would stop working. Those were the first ones to be cut off the internet, because if they ran autoupdate it could cause us to have to completely reload the original version of Windows. Total headache those were.


RE: Still not affordable
By jimhsu on 3/21/2014 3:05:14 PM , Rating: 2
Depressing but not surprising. The last time I worked in a lab with that kind of equipment (chromatography in my case), they were running Windows 3.1. Yes, really. In 2009.

Often such equipment is built on proprietary software and obsolete interfaces (9 pin serial ports are still widely used today, and I've even seen parallel ports [the ones way back in the days before printers came on USB]). The more specialized and expensive that particular kit is, the less likely that it'll be upgraded. For one, manufacturers have no incentive to provide upgrades on the software side when they're trying to sell you that new and shiny $250k machine that has user convenience features - when that 10-yr old relic that you have works perfectly fine, sensitivity/specificity wise for your needs.

You'll likely see such equipment go away with a fresh injection of research funding. Given the current situation of the NIH and other funding agencies, plus the economy, I don't see that as likely in the forseeable future.


RE: Still not affordable
By jimhsu on 3/21/2014 3:08:40 PM , Rating: 2
Oh yea ... that machine in particular did not have WAN (fortunately). Neither did it have USB ports, though.

Our data gathering was limited to a) 3.5" floppies (again, yes in 2009) or b) analog (as in manually copying values on a lab notebook). Depending on the volume of data and the difficulty of finding working floppy drives, (b) was usually faster.


RE: Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/21/2014 5:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ours is a chemical analysis lab, we do mostly environmental monitoring and the equipment is chromatography, mass spectrometry and plasma spectrometry. We are in the position of having equipment worth $100k-$400k tied to a PCs that are ancient. In the last couple years we had to buy about six of these pieces of equipment simply because we needed to get rid of the old PII400 computers running NT4. Since the interface cards were ISA slots, you just can't find new computers with those these days. So we spent about $300k just to replace two aging computers(three instruments running on each computer). The problem is the instruments were running just fine, no longer supported but they just never break. And to be honest they give better results than the new ones that replaced them.


RE: Still not affordable
By jimhsu on 3/21/2014 6:24:16 PM , Rating: 2
Chemistry ... yea I thought so. My experience was also in a chem lab (though student). Now that I'm in a molecular bio lab, we get newer toys, though this is more out of necessity (because many things that we use now haven't been invented back in 2005 or so) than actual money to be had. Our confocal is nearing 10 years, though it does run Windows 7.


RE: Still not affordable
By dew111 on 3/21/2014 5:58:17 PM , Rating: 2
You don't buy your lab equipment at the Microsoft Store. This deal isn't for you.


RE: Still not affordable
By JediJeb on 3/24/2014 4:01:15 PM , Rating: 2
We do purchase most of the computer that run the instruments through Dell or HP, could just as easily purchase them from a MS store.

Still it is the idea behind the offer that just doesn't fly with some industrial people. It has and probably always will be a headache that very expensive equipment is build to last for decades while the typical computer generation is only a few years, and whole architecture changes come in decade or less time frames also for computers.


RE: Still not affordable
By NicodemusMM on 3/21/2014 10:08:32 PM , Rating: 1
This isn't at all surprising. A lot of lab and industrial equipment is still running XP or prior, but they're typically air-gapped.

The costs involved are also not surprising. Once you're tied into very specialized software it costs a fortune to support and even more to get away from.

The problems may become worse once the supplier stops supporting XP. At that point you may be forced into paying higher costs on support contracts or moving to a more recent version of their software... both of which are nightmare material for someone.


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