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Operating Systems Software IT

Creaky Operating Systems Form IT Foundations 478

maotx writes "The Washington Post has an article on how aging operating systems are still widely used. The article states that "The research firm IDC estimates that of the roughly 514 million paid-for copies of Windows on desktops and laptops worldwide at the end of 2004, almost 21 percent were the aging Win 95, 98 and Millennium Edition releases." That equates to around 108 million copies being used."
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Creaky Operating Systems Form IT Foundations

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  • by kyoko21 ( 198413 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:45PM (#11981616)
    Windows 3.11 for workgroups running TCP/IP and NCSA Mosaic. :-)
    • Re:Windows 3.11 (Score:2, Interesting)

      OS/2 2.1.1 at the Quantas VIP Lounge in LAX and maybe other places.
  • Lets not forget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anti_zeitgeist ( 583666 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <tsiegtiez_itna>> on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:46PM (#11981624) Homepage Journal
    there are hospitals, companys, schools...etc that have ancient computer sitting around still doing random easy tasks. There is no need to update those computers...unless a larger load of work is needed to be done.
    • Mod parent up for funny sig
    • by Alwin Henseler ( 640539 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:43PM (#11981940)
      Working in a call centre currently. No-name, don't want to risk getting fired ;-)

      The shop uses a single user, single task, DOS-based app. On some machines in a fullscreen DOS-box under Win95, on some machines even pure DOS. PentiumPro/Celeron era hardware.

      Ancient? Sure. Stupid? Nope. If I would run this shop, I'd use network-booted thin clients, power-saving LCD screens, and some small opensource system like NetBSD, with maybe some custom code on top of it.

      But this DOS-based setup isn't all bad: Windows may provide multi-tasking and GUI, but what's the use? If you run a single-user, single-task app all the time, DOS is good enough, and relatively stable. License-wise, DOS is virtually free, Win95 licenses should come almost free these days. With very limited selections to make, DOS-based menu's navigate as quickly or faster than any GUI. The system requirements to run this, make the hardware almost free as well. Sure it's old, but it works, and replacement hardware costs nothing.

      Win95 not updated anymore? So what? The hardware doesn't change all by itself, right? Insecure? Maybe, but that only applies if you connect it to networks outside your own control. I doubt these machines have internet connection (not sure though). Maybe you could wreck operations here with a floppy disk smuggled in, but likely you'd get spotted, fired, and made to pay damages. If you work here, why would you risk that?

      Drop something newer like Win2k or XP in there: massive upgrade of hardware required, license and maintenance costs skyrocketing with these bloated systems, and maybe a full rewrite of the known, working, and trusted app needed. Please point it out if you see any advantage in there.

      Yes, newer systems may provide nice functionality, but if you don't need it, upgrading just for the sake of upgrading, is stupid. Upgrade if it lets you do something you couldn't do before, or if it fixes a (potential?) problem you have. If not, leave it.

      • by TheVoice900 ( 467327 ) <kamil&kamilkisiel,net> on Saturday March 19, 2005 @01:59AM (#11982763)
        The problem with using legacy systems like that, is what happens when they need to be updated? Or the hardware fails? It's possible the software will no longer run on modern systems..

        Even working hardware should be refreshed every few years just to keep up with the times and decrease the possibility of losing the whole operation because of outdated hardware and software. Sure it's not as cheap as keeping the old junk, but I think ultimately it's a better practice.

        You can then donate the old hardware and write it off for tax purposes... not bad at all...
        • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @06:22AM (#11983428) Journal

          Once the standard hardware stops support their DOS stuff they can get/buy the cheapest hardware, and run their app using emulation/virtualization. VMware or something similar - see MAME32 for evidence of old hardware being emulated.

          Could even be better = snapshots etc.

          AFAIK you can also run many DOS apps on one of those DOS emulators on Linux. Not games. But I'm sure most business apps are OK.

          I dare say many plain data entry stuff is fine with DOS.

          "Refreshed to keep with the times".

          LOL. This IT. Not the fashion industry. As long has they have backups and don't do crazy stuff - like improper power and cooling, they'll be fine.

          Old hardware isn't a problem in itself. Crappy faulty hardware is. Whilst some old stuff is crap, lots of new stuff is crap too. In fact, if you have 4 year old hardware that still works within specs, it's likely to work for as long as brand new hardware. Most new stuff fails soon after the warranty ;) - so what's left are the "golden oldies".
      • by m50d ( 797211 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @10:50AM (#11984247) Homepage Journal
        Use FreeDOS. Free, kept updated wrt security, and IME fully compatible, with the added bonus of being able to access fat32 partitions with no difficulty.
  • Banks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Luthair ( 847766 )
    A bank I did work at recently still ran Win95a
    • We're still running an old app that needs DOS. We have part of it running in a DOS window on an NT4.0 machine (NT's DOS sub-system is different from later Windows' versions).
        • Similar, though. We're highly regulated and slow to change.
          • Sounds very similar:)
  • by PepeGSay ( 847429 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:47PM (#11981633)
    This sounds like a message for the users, but maybe it is a wakeup for the OS makers. If that many people still see their OS as viable and are willing to use it... then should the OS companies really be holding a gun to their head in what can only be an attempt to wring more money from them?
    • well, it's more of an issue of os companies targetting new computers(biggest market they can get cash from i suppose).

      while there's millions of users out there with older tools that still work perfectly well.

      re-installed one nat-doing box tonight(new network config..)... released while watching the bios on that machine that it's 10 years old(and wasn't a speed monster back then) - and still works, and i still can buy network cards for it that work. who would have thought that 10 years ago?

      another thing..
    • by buckhead_buddy ( 186384 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:32PM (#11981882)
      PepeGSay wrote:
      If that many people still see their OS as viable and are willing to use it... then should the OS companies really be holding a gun to their head in what can only be an attempt to wring more money from them?
      That sounds reasonable, but major software upgrades aren't about popularity or making money; they're about making changes that break things. Sometimes the changes make a new feature possible, but often times they bring instability, data corruption, or regressive preformance issues.

      Apple's difficulty to getting people to upgrade (since the days of System 6!) have given them a perspective that they market each major upgrade (a.k.a. burdensome incompatibility) with flashy new features, programmer optimizations, and cosmetic improvements that all could have been added to older releases but are saved and introduced as the spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down. Their marketing actually makes many people eager to pay for a set of major changes and incompatabilities each year. (All the Mac rumor sites are awash in speculation over the release date, pricing, and last minute features for Tiger.)

      Microsoft's attempts to do this with Windows don't work nearly as well. Programmers willingly forgo new api's on their projects to reach a bigger market. Any cosmetic changes are made available by third-parties for older machines and many people demand a way to regress changes to the older, less-flashy version. Free code doesn't isn't always persuasive either. The major incompatabilities of services packs make some people choose not to stay current if it means that they don't have to hassle with making changes where they have no interest in making changes. If the changes benefit MS, they should be paying me to sabotage (err upgrade) my own system is how one of my previous bosses looked at it.

      One of the disadvantages to free software is that there is no automatic way to transition the data, email, porn, and games over to a free software OS in a way that sates the desire people have to not have to screw with their computer. There do appear to be some software projects that are working on these issues, but I bet a partial hardware upgrade (e.g. new hard drive with Linux, transition tools, and way to make a complete archival backup of the old system) would be more along the lines of what Joe Artist or Grandpa Smith would want.

    • by typhoonius ( 611834 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:46PM (#11981955)

      I was thinking about this earlier. It's a common karma-grab to post something about how software today is bloated and worthless and how all the interim upgrades have just been shoved down our throats. But in defense of the software giants, modern operating systems really are quite a bit better than the ones from ten years ago.

      Windows, for instance, moved its low-level internals to a much more clean and stable codebase. Longhorn has the potential to do the same for the high-level components (and maybe even provide some fascimile of security).

      Compared to its "Classic" releases, Mac OS has arguably regressed in terms of speed and UI consistency, but it's rock-solid stable now (and it's getting faster, and it's constantly getting useful new features such as Expose and Spotlight).

      And on the Unix side, we didn't even have KDE or GNOME ten years ago.

      And across the board, we have niceties such as USB, wi-fi, and journaling file systems that we take for granted now.

      If an old system still works, then, by all means, keep using it, but personally, I'm glad I don't have to reboot my computer every day anymore.

  • IDC Research (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rpozz ( 249652 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:48PM (#11981634)
    "This research into making sure companies have the latest version of Windows was sponsored by Microsoft."
  • Inertia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spaeschke ( 774948 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:48PM (#11981638)
    Does Win95 still access the internet? Play Solitaire? MineSweeper? MP3's (even on old, creaky Pentium I systems)?

    Then, quite simply, for most people who just want email and browsing it's more than sufficient for them. Same goes for a lot of small businesses. They don't need multi-Gigahertz machines or recent OS licenses. They just need something that will run their word processors, spreadsheets, and print docs.

  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:49PM (#11981641) Homepage
    And there is a sizable portion of the computer-user population that views their computer as a simple tool for a specific job. Grandma wants her email, and so to her it's an email receiver and not much else. Any ol' OS will do the job for her, so whatever she has is what she's used to is what she'll keep. Forever. It's not as if machines break down all that often. And if all you use the machine for is one simple job, it doesn't seem slow to the user. It's good enough.

    It's like the toaster to them. Who buys a new toaster or blender until the old one breaks? Same with computers for a surprising number of people. I've seen it with my relatives, I've seen it with friends. I've been appalled by what some of them use, but talk to them about upgrading and it's "No thanks, it works just fine."

    • Yes, but if you don't replace your toaster, it's not like there are new kinds of bread out there that will deliberately infect your old toaster with mold and make anything that comes out of it unfit to eat.
  • What a non-story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dancin_Santa ( 265275 ) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:49PM (#11981642) Journal
    Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but not everyone is on the bi-annual hardware upgrade cycle.

    And if you think that the weakest links in the IT department are the computers being used, then you're part of the problem. Hint: the problem lies in the parts you can't upgrade.
    • Re:What a non-story (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xyrus ( 755017 )
      In other news, 50% of all cars on the road are 8 years old or older.

      This may seem amazing to some slashpeople, but not everyone can afford a computer upgrade and a new OS every couple of years.

      If what they have works, why bother spending the money? After all, there are other useful endeavors the money can be spent on.

      Like beer.

  • by lgbarker ( 698397 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:51PM (#11981649)
    You mean Windows isn't supposed to creak when it's new?
  • by Anonymous Cowdog ( 154277 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:51PM (#11981650) Journal
    I used NT 4.0 forever because it just had such a workmanlike user interface.

    Actually, ObOnTopic, the most interesting thing to me about this topic is how easily Microsoft killed NT 4.0 by simply witholding support for USB. NT4 actually was, ah, very workable, if not workmanlike, except for that crucial missing USB connectivity in the later years.

    • as a non computer person, i never cd figure out why there was not a 3rd party software to get USB into NT - was it really that hard to do?
      this has bothered me foryears (since our startup bought 50 dell boxes with NT4 and USB ports !!)
      • It's EASY to add a device of an already defined type to an OS, but it's not easy to add support for an entirely new type of bus. Without the Windows source code, you'd have to implement USB as paired kernel and userland serial drivers, it would be ugly and proabably wouldn't work.

        Even Linux didn't get USB until 2.4 came around. That might be a long time for most people reading this, but I remember when AGP and USB were shipping on hardware but Linux and Windows couldn't use them (sort of). For a while afte
        • I've been thinking recently about the direction of computing, it seems everything is 'going serial'. SCSI, ATA, FireWire, HyperTransport, USB, these are all serial protocols. It's time an OS focused on having fantastic and robust serial capabilities, and defined the various busses as limits against the entire set of capabilities. Maybe this is getting more towards the microkernel state of mind, but shouldn't all the serial protocols share a command set as far as the kernel is concerned?

          (I'm not sure what t

    • NT4 could (in theory) run on a 33MHz machine with 16MB RAM. At least that's what the box said. I'd never try that.

      However, 2K has most of the goodness of NT4 with the addition of USB and Plug'n'Pray.
    • Don't forget that NT also lacked ACPI and IDE support. Your IDE drives showed up as SCSI. With NT, you could only create a 2GB parition (max) because setup created the partition with FAT and required a reboot before it converted the partition to NTFS (if you selected it).
      NT also didn't have slipstreaming which lead to problems with programs overwrote system files from service packs.
    • I used NT 4.0 forever because it just had such a workmanlike user interface.

      It may have had a workmanlike user interface, but it was horribly unstable. I had to work on an NT box for a while at work, and it blue screened an average of six times a day because of a glitch in the video drivers. The drivers were able to bring my box to its knees at any moment because of a stupid design decision at MicroSith who's consequences should have been obvious to a first-year CS student.

      One of my supervisors told m

  • by Saven Marek ( 739395 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:52PM (#11981654)
    Remember these operating systems work as well as they did when they were released so why change?

    Windows 95 or 3.11 doesn't suddenly lose features when they become 5 years old. the analogy to 'creaky' isn't flawed. operating systems don't wear out or 'break' over time they just get found exploits for or don't provide newer functionality that might be needed.

    But you can patch them and do workarounds for their security problems that keep them every bit as secure as anything else new out there (maybe even more so!!!) and if you don't need newer functionality but just to keep doing a job then why spend money needlessly on something that doesnt need to upgrade and still works?

    I bet there are many of completely secure Linux 2.0 and Windows 95 servers and desktops in use by business that will keep doing the job they are needed to for years to come, maybe longer.
  • by chrispyman ( 710460 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:52PM (#11981655)
    Although using an old operating system is fine for just some box sitting there not connected to any sort of network, once you plug it into a network you have a disaster waiting to happen. Many of these old operating systems are sitting there unpatched just waiting to become a sysadmin's worst nightmare. Although, if it was possible to keep these old OS'es patched, I don't see anything wrong with using them.
  • I still use win 98s (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:53PM (#11981661) Journal
    I still use Wndows 98 because I don't want to pay for an OS I won't use for more then a few months. I'm switching to Ubuntu Linux soon and if my modem wasn't a winmodem I'd already be using it.
    • I, too, use Win 98se on my IBM Stinkpad. After a long day of beating on servers and network equipment, the LAST thing I want to do when I get home is to wrench on my laptop.

      I think this is a very different attitude than one I used to possess ten years ago, when I was relatively new to doing IT in a corporate environment. Back then, every new hardware and software release was like Christmas (or Hannukah, Kwanzaa, et al.). Now, it's just BLAH.

      Don't get me wrong--I love technology. I'm just less apt to i
    • Well,

      If I were you I would shell out the 1-15 bucks for a regular modem.

      The old adage do not bite your nose off to spite your face comes to mind.

  • by porky_pig_jr ( 129948 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:55PM (#11981674)
    are using.

    I used to work for the company that wrote a software for IBM mainframes. We had to deal with the different agencies. each used something REALLY old, I had to maintain virtual machine environment, so we can bring up some of those older OS versions if necessary for debugging. I remember one funny case when someone called from the agency I won't give a name (but you can figure it out), the guy said he had the software crashed, but he DID NOT WANT to give any details of what was wrong, neither to tell which operating system he was using. We had to deal with his boss and his boss' boss to get the information we needed to debug the problem.

    Well, there were two reasons why they've used OS'es that old. First, if it works, don't upgrade it. It ain't broken so don't fix it. Second, upgrade may require bigger hardware, and you have to justify the cost of upgrade, so why bother?

    For those familiar with the history of IBM mainframe-based OS'es, we had to maintain OS/VS1 (or something like that). blah.
    • Installing a new release of the operating system often means that every application on that system must be tested, which requires time and money that does not exist or is in short supply. You can't just install a new release of the operating system and hope nothing breaks.
  • by msim ( 220489 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:56PM (#11981677) Homepage Journal
    Abelit being slightly offtopic, half of those people running older OS's probably don't give two whits about newer software (my girlfriends grandparents pc is still running win95 OSR2!) and the most complicated thing they have done is write aodoccument or print out an invoice.

    The other half just accept their pc is getting slower and slower with all the cruft (and spyware too?) and other crap that is slowly killing their systems.

    Then again i doubt anyone here is running anything older than win2k/ Macos X unless they are a tightarse.

    (this is where i mention my laptop is a P120 running Win98)
    • I used NT 4.0 forever because it just had such a workmanlike user interface.

      Not true. I'm running Win98SE because it does what I need the way I want it to and doesn't get in my way. I've used NT4 and 2k at work and supported both Me and XP and I won't use any of them. I don't like the way they work, I neither need nor want their bells and whistles and I'm not going to use them at home.

  • Like running old cnc machines or some old databases for warehouses. They probably don't need new operating systems.

    -BTW. Ncaa tourn.
    I hope Duke loses. How did Washington get a 1st round seed. Northern Iowa selection shows me that the NCAA tournament is not fair. Too many school left out that could beat them.
    • I hope Duke loses. How did Washington get a 1st round seed. Northern Iowa selection shows me that the NCAA tournament is not fair. Too many school left out that could beat them.

      UNI plays good ball and is giving Wisconsin a run for their money - if any school from Iowa didn't deserve a bid, it was the University of Iowa.

  • My experience with laptops has been that the manufacturer only supports it with the version of the operating system that was originally installed on the laptop. They have no interest in expending any effort on updating the laptop-specific software to be compatible with newer releases of the operating system. That means that you are stuck with whatever came on the laptop until it finally dies. From the manufacturer's point of view, the "solution" is to buy a new laptop.
    • the manufacturer only supports it with the version of the operating system that was originally installed on the laptop.

      Oops. I should've known that before I nuked XP and put linux on this laptop. Too late now. I hope I never need support from the manufacturer.
  • 1) 98se, especially with 98lite installed and IE removed, *smokes* any other MS-windows based OS I've ever seen (and I've seen 'em all) in terms of performance. My machine crawls when I boot to the 2000 side, the 98 side is like *butter*, and I hardly ever have to reboot. Sure, the buttons aren't all round and bubbly, and there's no transparency support, but I have yet to find a single thing that I want to do that 98 won't support.

    2) DOS-based (which is to say, 95, 98 and ME) OS's are not nearly as widel
    • Sometimes upgrading breaks applications. I had to upgrade to XP to upgrade a software development package I use, but it broke an old version of Acrobat Distiller, my CD labeling software, and a not-that-old version of LaTeX (for some lame reason I can't get a less then or equal sign anymore). I guess I had to buy a new Acrobat Distiller, download a patch to the CD labeler, and I try to avoid less than or equal in my LaTeX documents until I can upgrade that -- nothing that can't be fixed with time any mone
  • So what about Linux? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 18, 2005 @09:59PM (#11981699)
    Look at that - a hundred million+ machines running Win9x. This should be exactly where Linux shines, revamping old machines with new desktop life. Except, of course, that combos of KDE/GNOME + OpenOffice.org + Mozilla are even weightier than their Windows equivalents, thus destroying an upgrade path.

    It's very frustrating. Yeah, you can use Fluxbox and Dillo and stuff like that, but it's hardly an enterprise desktop, is it?

    Much as I love Linux, it's painful to see massive Microsoftian bloat in the major desktops and apps, all the time removing an incentive to upgrade. Or, in cases like this, eliminating an upgrade path altogether!

    If Linux was slim, fast and snappy, it'd be an absolutely perfect solution. But while it offers barely any perfomance advantages over XP/MSO, it's not so attractive.

    These 100 million machines could and should be running Linux, if we'd paid attention to elegant code and performance. But instead we're seeing ever more newcomers turned off by the weight and sluggish performance. It's distressing.
    • Agreed. xfce4 is the only lightweight desktop that looks good, but has next to no 'desktop' to it. Firefox brings a 300MHz machine with 64M to a crawl. This should not be.

  • by dameron ( 307970 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:01PM (#11981716)
    About six months ago I had to access some information on an aging (as in 13 year old) PICK server. The multiport board was fried years ago and I couldn't raise a terminal on the serial port. After a few hours of trying to capture the data I had the person who needed access to it copy it to a pad of paper from the screen.

    Not good, to say the least, but the server in question hadn't been fired up in years.

    Since then I've been putting disk images of our currently running database software on a Qemu image along with a copy of the qemu source and binaries on a DVD (and in the future the media might change, but you get the idea).

    For emergency situations I can put a dvd into any available machine and have a "live" version of our DB running in minutes. I'd have loved it if I could've booted that PICK server in an emulator.

  • by stevemm81 ( 203868 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:01PM (#11981727) Homepage
    For those of us afraid of hardware-based trustworthy computing, this is why it will not happen for a long, long time. More and more home users are going to be satisfied with the machines they have now until they break, and companies wishing to sell online content to them are just going to have to deal with the fact that they're not going to buy a new, trustworthy computer to access the content.
  • I mean, are you really going to upgrade a piece-of-crap P166 to Windows XP, where it will run like shit? Or are you going to run DOS or Win95 or maybe Linux if you're 1337 enough, and still have it run acceptably fast?
  • Stifled Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri ( 601766 ) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:11PM (#11981774) Journal
    What this really demonstrates is how stifling Microsoft's OS monopoly has been. When the core functions of a product have changed so little, have offered so little innovation, that there's no compelling reason to upgrade after more than ten years, it's clear that it is a stagnant product.

    When no other businesses can enter the market and compete against your stagnant product, but a significant competitor for your product can be put together by a bunch of enthusiasts, then you have a company that has been successful in suffocating an industry.
    • Why in the world is this modded up?

      There have been plenty of innovations in Windows since win95. But guess what, not only are they not useful to everyone--Think of the quintessential grandma who does nothing but check her email--if her win9x system does that to her satisfaction why SHOULD she upgrade?

      Also consider places where old OSes are embedded into a system or bussiness: The bookstore where I work uses thin clients running a horribly out of date IBID software. Sure brand new celeron based PCs using
  • Debian (Score:2, Funny)

    by BradWarden ( 869007 )
    oh....I'm current
  • OS does not age... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:15PM (#11981804)
    A copy of a 10-year-old OS does everything it did when it was first compiled and installed (and maybe a bit more with the right add-ons). It is the software-industry (and virus writers) that reset peoples expectations and make the old OS seem decrepit.

    Sometimes maintaining an old OS for an old system can be the best use of time and money. I have a 10-year-old machine that does a great job scanning old slides, negatives, and photos. And another 10-year-old laptop ($20 for the laptop, $2 for a WiFi card for it) that is perfect for light editing jobs and running a much-loved application that is no longer supported on newer machines (and that has no modern counterpart). So many common computing tasks don't need GHz speed or the latest OS.

    Sometimes the best tool for the job is an old tool because old software never wears out (and old hardware is so delightfully cheap).
  • "Paid-for" is the operative word. Don't forget about the pirated copies. Joe Blow burns a copy of Windows for his friend and on and on.
  • by humanerror ( 56316 ) on Friday March 18, 2005 @10:30PM (#11981875)

    Among them being that some of us simply have to make do with what we've got.

    I am the IT department for a non-profit in San Francisco. We're an Apple only shop, and our charter does not allow us to spend money on hardware. Everything is donated. The result? Besides 8 Rev C and D iMacs and 3 Rev 1 Yosemite G3s, the other 40 or so machines are a motley collection of older, even ancient Macs.

    On the iMacs and Yosemites, Jaguar is about as high as you should go if you actually need to get your work done in a timely manner (especially when you only have 192-320M in them). The other Macs run mostly 8.6-9.1, with a couple still running 7.x (if it ain't broke...).

    While I (and the admin peeps) would love to have everyone on an OSX box running OpenOffice.org, it's simply not possible at this time. So, we have Office 98, 2001, and 2004 running... depending on the OS installed. I have AppleWorks installed most everywhere, but no one really uses it. Fortunately, Mozilla 1.2 is serviceable on the 8.x-9.x machines.

    Like Sting said, "when the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around." Creaky or not.

  • "aging operating systems are still widely used"

    I'm pretty sure that the numbers will even further increase when Longhorn comes out with a working Digital Restrictions Management.

    There are already a lot of IT people that use win2k instead of XP because of several advantages they see in win2k.
    Those are not the people who don't care or don't know what they are doing and still they refuse to use the newest and shiniest MS OS.

    Besides that there is a undeniable trend towards F/OSS software even among Joe Sixpack users.

    So it seems more and more people will use old windows versions or a *nix OS instead of a new windows version in the future.
    Personally I think that is a good thing.
  • Moving parts wear out. Books wear out after continued use. Software does not. Define OLD for me please?

    We all text speak now, does that make proper German, Spanish, or English old? Did my amortization program I wrote back in 1982 somehow become obsolete because the math has changed?

    The only reason any software should be considered obsolete is when computers stop using binary and move on to something else. The 128, 64, 32, 16, 8, and 4 bit computers all speak binary at the same level.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Saturday March 19, 2005 @07:12AM (#11983550) Homepage
    Right, I run tech support for (currently) six suburban schools in my area, being the sole person responsible for upgrading, maintaining etc. I am in high demand.

    Yes, we have just got one school left which is running 98 in any significant amount. For large installations and computers which "need" to be up 24/7, you do need a nice shiny new OS. Most of the schools have a mixture of XP and 98, one has 95/98, one has 2000 throughout.

    I can see the argument for those having to be upgraded, but there is a significant cost involved in doing so that means a complete upheaval of the entire computer base.

    However, at home my most powerful machines run 98SE. It's cheap, easily available, VERY easily repairable. If maintained properly, there are no security problems, you just have to not rely on the OS seperating out user privileges like in XP.

    I've actually seen people deliberately run commands (e.g. testing their unverified downloads out) on their computer just because they believe the OS will seperate the danger out enough because it's under a non-privileged user.

    Most home users don't want the hassle and thus most home machines are probably running under a single, full-access account anyway. Also, an experienced user, with some simple freeware and an adequate firewall, is just as well protected as a modern OS user.

    The older OS are not as stable, no, unless they are well-maintained (not installing crap just to see what it looks like). If the older OS's do go belly-up, though, they are VERY easy to recover (even down to the filesystem level, FAT is much simpler to recover from than NTFS).

    I bought this machine 2-3 years ago, installed 98SE that I had bought an auction and it replaced my 6 year old machine that has been running 98 all that time.

    Point 1) I've never had to reformat. This "do it every six months" is NOT a solution, not practical, nonsensical, inconvenient and totally unnecessary. I've worked on home machines that have been collecting spyware, viruses etc. for years and brought them back from the dead without having to reformat.

    Point 2) My computer HAS NOT slowed down just because it's had more software installed. I carefully control exactly what software I use and how it's set up. On machines that have been allowed to do that, I've seen ten-fold increases in speed just by running AdAware, Spybot and getting rid of 90% of the crap using Startup Control Panel.

    OS's do not get slower the more you install, they get slower the LESS you manage WHAT you install. They can ALWAYS be brought back to speed.

    Point 3) Stability is not that great a problem compared to modern OS's. Yes, XP is less likely to crash Word on me and need a reboot but similarly if 98 goes COMPLETELY belly up, I can bring it back by copying an day-old registry file over the current ones.

    I don't get stuck in constant blue-screen reboot loops (seen at least 6 of these in schools recently that, because the computers can be booted over the network and restore to their original configuration, I end up just reinstalling). If 98 ever did do that to me, it's much easier to fix. Additionally, 98's are used as home machines where 24/7 stability is not essential and most people use them for an hour or so at a time.

    Point 4) I refuse to fund an organisation that is demanding money from me if I wish to upgrade to a "stable" system. Stability problems didn't suddenly get discovered in the year 2000, they were ALWAYS in there. The fact that every few years MS redesigns it's systems, charges EXTORTIONATE amounts for the next version, drops support for older versions and then discovers that they are just as buggy as the older versions makes my blood boil.

    In my early years, Microsoft made more than enough money from myself. DOS was worth it. Windows 3.0/3.1 were worth it. Office up to and including 2000 was ALMOST worth it. After that, it just got silly. Now I buy my OS and Office packages from eBay. Money is VERY important to home use

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.