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End of Win 98 Support May Boost Desktop Linux 581

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft kills off support for Windows 98 and Windows ME today, and ZDNet is reporting that the move will boost demand for Linux on the desktop. Unlike two years ago — when support for Win98 was extended because Linux was seen as a serious competitor — this time it seems there is no turning back."
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End of Win 98 Support May Boost Desktop Linux

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  • Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot.jawtheshark@com> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:44AM (#15696870) Homepage Journal

    Increased demand for Linux on the desktop? Highly unlikely. The machines still running Win98/ME are probably all older machines that keep on chugging. The users didn't bother to upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows XP in the first place, and will just keep running Win98/ME until the machine dies. When that happens, the users will simply buy a new system and then get the latest OS that comes with it. Probably XP or Vista, depending on time when the old machine dies.

    While Linux may be ready for the desktop, the people that stick to Win98/ME are the most unlikely to switch to Linux.

  • Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Betonschaar ( 178617 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:45AM (#15696872)
    What a useless article, the only section that actually mentioned Linux at all was

    Silver still believes that some users may decide to switch to Linux instead of upgrading to XP but he said existing applications that require Windows are likely to stop a mass migration.

    So how exactly is MS killing '98 support going to 'help linux migration'??
  • not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:46AM (#15696879) Homepage
    Unless the end of support means that all copies will explode and stop working. I know people that still run windows 95 and they dont care that it is "unsupported" the masses dont care if something is supported anyways, they dont call microsoft, they typically dont go patching or updating.

    This means absolutely nothing, windows 98 installed bast sill remain the same and slowly dwindle as the poor upgrade their pc's and use what comes on that.
  • Unlikely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:46AM (#15696883)

    First, a rewrite. Changes are highlighted in bold:

    An anonymous reader writes
    "Microsoft kills off support [] for Windows 98 and Windows ME today, and nobody is reporting that the move will boost demand for Windows 2000 on bittorrent [] . Unlike two years ago -- when support for Win98 was extended because so many people complained about the early cutoff [] -- this time it seems there is no turning back."

    Seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine [], but the mainstream Linux distros are too bloaty to even install: the Ubuntu and Fedora installers literally hang, and SUSE and Mandriva are too slow even on my other machine in the +2GHz range.

    Linux can't pick up the slack when MS turns off support for old OSes, because the top Linux distros stopped catering for that level of hardware years ago. And with KDE/GNOME being so indispensable for everyday desktop usage, their near-elitist disregard for anything below mid-high range hardware is infuriating.

    In fact, here is the quote ZDNet is using to support their claim:

    "I suspect that Microsoft's original extension of the Windows 98 support date a couple of years ago was, in part, to make sure Linux was not brought in to replace these systems."

    Words cannot express just how much of a non-story this is.

  • ... or maybe not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:52AM (#15696910)
    Users who haven't bothered upgrading their Win98/ME-machine probably don't care about the (absent) support either. The probability of them installing a completely new OS (Linux) is rather slim... me thinks.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jagossel ( 973849 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:54AM (#15696916)
    I would have to agree. Seems like in a Microsoft-driven world, people will go out and buy Windows XP or Windows Vista. Even with the WGA in place, people would still buy Windows. I'm all pro-Linux myself, but I still use a Microsoft OS at home. I would like to see Linux take their fair share in the desktop market, but I don't think it will happen with Microsoft dominating the market. Plus, users are too familiar with Windows and are a little hesitant to switch to Linux.
  • Re:Which (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrP-(at work) ( 839979 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:54AM (#15696917)

    It's like Ubuntu but it runs XFce instead of GNOME. It's more lightweight and im my opinion prettier, will probably run good on your laptop.

    Although you may want to upgrade the RAM

    And install it from the server CD not Desktop CD because the live desktop cd will probably run like crap on 64m
  • Re:Seems unlikely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Adelbert ( 873575 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:56AM (#15696924) Journal
    We can give away all the free stuff we want, but if we don't advertise the fact then the message won't get through. Go to any random person on the street and ask them if they've heard of Ubuntu. Dollars to donuts, they won't have. Yes, Ubuntu is a great OS (I'm using it now). Now, that doesn't mean that it will replace Windows 98 by osmosis.
  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:57AM (#15696931) Homepage
    However, all of the things that you would have to do to get it to install (text mode, --nousb, that type of stuff) would not be something the "average" computer user would be willing to deal with.
  • Re:Useless (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bluebox_rob ( 948307 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:57AM (#15696934)
    I agree there won't be a flood of new Linux users as a result of this, but there may be a few - everytime a software vendor cuts off support for a product there is always some backlash from users who don't see why they should have to pay for a new version of something that they see (however naively) as still working perfectly well.
  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by transporter_ii ( 986545 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:01AM (#15696953) Homepage
    I work in a 2-way radio business radio shop. All of our programming computers use Windows 98 SE because everything after that had trouble with using the serial ports of out DOS (Now, on Win98, almost everything works. On anything past that, 90% of the software works, but you will run into something here or there that refuses to read or write to a radio).

    I would love nothing more to swap each Win98 computer over to Linux, but you know how much of the radio programming software - Kenwood, Motorola, Icom, etc. -- will run on Linux? None.

    I would bet that a fair amount of Win98 users still use it because they are in a situation similar to us, too. And you know how many of their critical apps run on Linux? Probably none, too.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by exit3219 ( 946049 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:02AM (#15696961) Homepage
    True. Imagine a win98 user who has no idea about Linux. So he decides to try a distro. Do you think the latest Gnome/KDE will run smoother on their machine than Win89 did? Do you believe Openoffice 2 will be faster than MS Office '97? Hell, no! As a newbie, he probably won't have the patience to learn enough on a crawling-slow machine to use IceWM / .
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kripkenstein ( 913150 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:04AM (#15696966) Homepage
    From TFA:

    "School PCs are likely more at risk. Win9x PCs used regularly on the Internet need up to date security software. Some of these users -- companies, schools and governments -- may switch to Linux or Mac[.]" (emphasis mine)

    The article doesn't focus on old PCs in people's kitchen that only run Word. It specifically mentions schools, companies and governments - places that might have lots of old computers that still do something, and that need to know that those machines aren't going to be botted (those places DO have people who worry about such things, as opposed to the "average home user" that you seem to refer to). For such places, installing Linux might be a nice option instead of just throwing the hardware out.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:05AM (#15696977) Homepage
    > Increased demand for Linux on the desktop? Highly unlikely.

    Um, you realize that it doesn't take much to qualify as increased demand for Linux on the desktop! :)

    > While Linux may be ready for the desktop, the people that stick to Win98/ME are the most unlikely to switch to Linux.

    True, with one notable excemption you may be overlooking. Companies that still use Win98 may well consider support to be an important factor, and may well be willing to consider an alternative like Linux. I agree that Gramma's Win98 machine is unlikely to change to Linux, but the small company with less-than-a-dozen aging machines might actually consider switching. Most of them will probably bite the bullet and upgrade to XP or something, but a few might actually make the leap. And, like I say, it doesn't take many to qualify as an increased demand for Linux at the moment.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pogue Mahone ( 265053 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:11AM (#15696997) Homepage
    Speaking as someone who has run Linux on my desktop since about 1996 (and on my home PC long before that), I can say that Windows is not yet ready for my desktop and most likely never will be.
  • by DG ( 989 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:12AM (#15697004) Homepage Journal
    Although I'm a huge Linux fan, and I've been using it on my primary home desktop since 1997, I doubt that end-of-life on Win95 will push Linux adoption at all.

    The issue here isn't keeping old machines running (which Linux does spectacularly) but keeping old APPLICATIONS running - those specialized applications that are in some sense mission-critical, but which won't run on newer hardware or under XP.

    I've got a pair of P150 Win95 Toughbooks that I use to talk to the ECU on the race car. I'd love to use my fancy-schmancy HP ZD7280 instead, but it has no serial port, and the ECU doesn't like USB->Serial converters. Yes, I could buy a PCMCIA serial card, but the laptops were cheaper - and they work.

    There are a lot of businesses out there with hardware controllers, bespoke business process software etc running on Win95 because their specific application won't run on XP. Linux doesn't help these folks.

    Unless WINE is 100% functional for their application and is pre-installed (setting up WINE used to be a real bitch) such that the application can be loaded onto a Linux box and "just works", there's no reason to move to Linux.

  • riiiight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:12AM (#15697010) Journal
    Just as soon as most loons still using win98 stop asking - "so how much is Microsoft Word for Linux cost"?

    If they get an answer for that - then Linux is SO in with those folks.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:13AM (#15697012) Homepage
    Actually, most small companies I know that are still running Win98 do so because they don't need much out of their computers, and it still does the job. Not because they have special apps that require Win98. And these companies are among the prime candidates for a move to Linux. Granted, most of them will certainly stick with MS, but even a few Linux migrations could be fairly significant, percentage-wise.
  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:15AM (#15697024)
    Those '50 to 70 million' users of Windows 98 or Windows ME are probably running on older hardware and are unlikely to upgrade to Windows XP due to its increased hardware requirements and slower system response. A normal competitive business with that many users of one of its product would find some way to sell them something such as security fixes, patches, or whatever. Microsoft just kisses them off.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:16AM (#15697027) Journal
    If the end of support for Win98 will boost *anything* it's the purchases of Macs.

    You have got to be joking. There are only three possible reasons not to upgrade from Windows 98:

    1. Cannot justify the expense when Windows 98 works fine.
    2. Need to run programs that don't work in newer versions of Windows.
    3. Too lazy to care.

    People in category (1) are hardly going to pay the extortionate premium for an Apple: they'll keep on using their old computer until it breaks, and then they'll buy the cheapest Dell they can get.

    People in category (2) are hardly going to switch to a totally incompatible operating system that doesn't run any of their software: they'll keep on using their old computer until it breaks, and then they'll buy the cheapest Dell they can get and put Windows 98 on that. Sure, you could theoretically buy a Mac and run Win98 on it in Virtual PC. But why bother, when you can get a Dell for a fraction of the price?

    People in category (3) don't care about the end of support, so they'll keep on using their old computer until it breaks, and then they'll... you guessed it, they'll buy the cheapest Dell they can get and not care about that either.

    Oh, they won't switch to Linux either, but they certainly won't be interested in Apple hardware. For all its advantages, it does not have anything whatsoever to offer the kind of person who is still using Windows 98 in 2006.
  • by Stachybotris ( 936861 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:22AM (#15697054)
    No, if you're running a system with one of those operating systems, you're probably blissfully ignorant of the security problems and just accept the kinks as they are. Odds are you've never patched your system because you didn't know that you needed to. Your 'decision' to stay with that OS is also probably more along the lines of either a) not wanting to upgrade because you think it's too much work/too expensive or b) because 'it works just fine for me'.

    Honestly, how many people on Slashdot routinely run '98 or older except as a test bed for software/web applications that they have to make sure run on anything that Grandma & Grandpa Sixpack might still be using? I know two people who run '98, and one of them does so for the purpose of testing and development. The other runs it because her system won't handle XP and she doesn't have the cash on hand to upgrade.
  • Re:Fairly Obvious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chris whatever ( 980992 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:22AM (#15697055)
    You actually think that MR and MRs anyone that are running Win98 or ME because they dont know better will change to a completely different O.S?

    They barely know the ins and out of internet and have difficulty telling what version of windows they have, they surely wont change to linux and that's THE FAIRLY OBVIOUS ANALYSIS.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zyprexia ( 988133 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:23AM (#15697059)
    Ever heard of the phrase 'If it ain't broken, don't fix it'. I worked for some industrial companies that never going to take the risk of shutting down their factory line just to do an update. If it's working correctly now, it will also work correctly over 3 years. Most of the industrial companies don't have the resources to write (or maintain) the specialized software. Because of that they paid a lot of money for the software to interact with the factory plant. They are not going to invest millions of Euros to update their software just because Microsoft stops support for W98...
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Max Threshold ( 540114 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:24AM (#15697066)
    Not if we scare them enough.

    For example, we can tell them (truthfully) that from now on, connecting a Win98 box to the Internet is as reckless and irresponsible as leaving buckets of water out in your yard for virus-bearing mosquitoes to breed in. (Not that it wasn't before.)

    Considering how much malware these old machines are probably loaded with, most users would probably be impressed by how much faster a clean install of the latest Ubuntu Linux would be.

  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:26AM (#15697077) Journal
    TFA mentions Linux only very briefly, yet the summary and the heading would have us believe No Win98 Means More Linux. More and more, it appears these Flamebait and Troll articles are a mechanism for MS to get free and vital feedback from the user / pirating communities.

    Some examples:
    1. WGA to turn off your PC - source: A Blog! - 800 replies - Subsequent Slashback - Subsequent Denial through a PR firm!
    2. Why Vista keeps getting delayed..... atleast a dozen articles!
    3. ODF support in Office 2007.
    4. WinFS to be dropped.. again, not an authentic source, and no real content whatsoever.
    5. UK schools to examine MS school licensing.
    6. Vista to boost Linux adoption.
    7. Virtualization to boost Linux, kill Windows.
    8. And now, No Support for Win98 to boost Linux!

    Looks like the MS "Get The FUD" policy has backfired. Every day, the Linux Fear seems to be growing on the giant firm. Rather than getting revenue from new licenses through superior products and tech., MS now appears to have given up.. instead they seem to be hell bent on extracting revenue from the faithful pirates.

    Why not create a separate section and quit pretending that such articles are "News Items" that "Matter to Nerds"? Alternatively, MS could send a few $$ for every meaningful feedback post to such non-articles.

    Personally, I upgraded my home PC from Windows XP Pro (my office's license) to Windows 98SE last week. WinXP needed a lot of support.. the WGA started grumbling moment I took the office PC home.., so I fixed it with Win98 and Opera, de-installed IE, reconfigured my 'hosts' file, and routed all phone-home packets to localhost.

    I don't think I neeed any support for Win98, so thanks MS for dropping it.
  • by traabil ( 861418 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:31AM (#15697105)
    If you haven't already bothered to switch from a OS launched eons ago yet, chances are this decision by MS is not going to sway your non-decision.
  • Re:Which (Score:2, Insightful)

    by d2v ( 912638 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:36AM (#15697125)
    You might also consider Zenwalk linux [] which comes with lightweight Xfce desktop environment and latest versions of popular apps.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:39AM (#15697146) Journal
    Actually, Mandrake and SUSE runs fine on all machines that I saw running win98/me. Several things that I will point out to you.
    First, had MS dropped support 2 years ago like they should have, then Linux would not have really been ready. Now, the desktop is quite a bit better (certainly better than win98/me). In addition, Wine is capable of supporting a great deal of current educational tools.
    Second, you state that those who are running Win98/me will not switch to Linux. Of course, a smart person would ask, why have they not switched to XP already? Real simple answers on this. It will be either no money for expensive systems (likely to switch as they can not afford a new system), afraid to jump to a new system (so-so chance) and/or the system is doing what they need (highly likely that Linux will win these if there is an easy upgrade path).
    Finally, I find it funny that MS, gartner, and many other ppl who study this and most likely have a great deal more knowledge than you, are conciding that this will lead to an increase in Linux. In the mean time, you with your all knowing attitude says that it will not. Much of what comes from MS and the occaisional study that they "fund" is simple FUD designed to slow down Linux. But overall, MS has a clue. And when everybody in the industry is saying this, then it is likely true.
  • Does it matter? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:49AM (#15697183)
    What supprt do people actuallyuse? Anyone still running Windows 98 is going to be fairly familiar with it, and probably doesn't qualify for direct technical support anyway. The other areas of "support" are going to be bug fixes and upgrades. They haven't really done a lot in this area anyway.
  • by Carcass666 ( 539381 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:02AM (#15697245)

    An example of Windows 98 is at my gym where the barcode check in/check out system churns along happily day after day on a Windows 98 box (not connected to the Internet, or I'm sure it would be unusable by now). Here's an example of an old box, probably better made than half the crap churned out today (decent power supplies, hard drives that were throroughly Q/A'd, memory modules with matching chips, etc.), that will continue being used until it implodes upon ifself. The application does not need the eye candy of XP/Gnome/KDE, nor does it need access to infinite amounts of virtual RAM, etc. It needs to start quickly (which Windows 98 does) and go.

    This may be a perfect opportunity to set up a simple Linux application that runs under X (not using KDE/Gnome), but who is going to spend the money to fund the development? It's not a "sexy" project that it going to be picked up on by some hacker for fun, and the kind of guys who write boring database apps like this are mostly busy in the US these days working 10 hour days trying to keep their jobs.

    It's not Microsoft Office that keeps these Windows 98 boxes alive; but the small, VB apps that do not die but continue doing useful work day in and day out. Could these be built on Linux? Absolutely. Would they be better? Sure they could. Could they be built as quickly and easily as their VB 6 counterparts? Not that I have seen so far, and that includes Gnome, KDE/Qt, Tk and wxPython (I know there are many more). That's where Windows picked up so much momentum; it was the ability to toss together small, useful, ugly RAD apps that were not things of Computer Science beauty, but they could be built by people who didn't know C++ but knew what they needed.

    IMO, this is a big reason why Linux hasn't caught on the way it ought to have on the Desktop. There is no easy way for the non-computer scientist to put together quick, useful applications. This is something IBM never got with OS/2, and why it died a stagnant death, because while it could run Windows 3.1 apps better than Windows itself, to do anything in native you pretty much had to do it in C++.

    Most Linux users like the idea of their apps being constructed by committees of uber-hackers in Europe who really know their stuff. However, until your average hobbiest or business professional can put together useful applications as easily as they could in VB (and to a lesser extent VB.NET), and distribute it, legacy operating systems like Windows 98 and XP will still be floating around for many years to come.

  • by Cro Magnon ( 467622 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:04AM (#15697257) Homepage Journal
    I don't think the average user would have much trouble USING Linux. The problem is, the average user can't INSTALL Linux. They probably couldn't install Windows either, but they don't have to.
  • Re:Unlikely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by value_added ( 719364 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:05AM (#15697261)
    Seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine, but the mainstream Linux distros are too bloaty to even install: the Ubuntu and Fedora installers literally hang, and SUSE and Mandriva are too slow even on my other machine in the +2GHz range.

    It's been already pointed out this is mostly FUD, but I'll chime in as well. I've installed Windows 2000 and XP with no problem on all sorts of PIII machines. I've also used those machines and run a gamut of programs, video editing included.

    I've also installed just about every Linux distribution on one or more of those machines and had no problems with the installation, and experienced no limitations with any programs I ran. Yeah, video-related programs included. From my own experience, distros like Ubuntu to seem to come out of the box with the proverbial kitchen sink, but nothing that adding some extra RAM doesn't cure.

    For the record, all of those machines were the 550-600 Mhz variety with onboard video (a whopping 4MB in most cases) hooked up to CRT monitors running 1280x1024@85Hz. None has more than 128MB of RAM. My laptop is a 2GHz Thinkpad clocked down to 800Mhz (an arbitrary choice, but everything works and the machine stays nice and cool) and runs FreeBSD with a Gnome desktop. As a side note, I'll add that if I had any complaint whatsoever, it would be with gnome-terminal only, but on a 1024x768 laptop, the "full screen" feature is a blessing.

    I'd suggest that anyone who states or implies that Linux, etc. is too slow, hangs, or requires more than average processing capabilities has some hardware issues that they haven't bothered to investigate beforehand and consequently can't possibly diagnose or fix, let alone offer wide-ranging comments on how their personal one-off experience is representative of anything more than just that.
  • Cost of Training (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaneh0 ( 624603 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:09AM (#15697273)
    Take a look at your scenario: If YOU were that small business owner, with 10-15 employees and 10 older '98 machines, which do you think is more likely?

    Scenario 1
    - Sees slashdot headline in RSS reader about '98 support being discontinued and a mention of Linux, which is free software that you've heard discussed every now and then
    - Ignores all matters critical to running his business--normally a 60hr/wk job--and learns about Linux and the different distros and which companies offer support
    - Calls Red Hat, or a Red Hat provider, and discusses the software, gets a demo, installs, tests, and orders the software and support contract
    - Tries to find software to replace all of the titles used in Windows
    - Trains employees or hires someone to train employees

    Scenario 2
    - Calls Dell and orders 10 of their cheapest XP PC's shipped to their door at $500 machine.

    Scenario 3
    - Does nothing, crosses fingers, replaces PC's one at a time as they break

    I can't possibly imagine ANY SMALL BIZ owner following Scenario 1. I don't understand why linux zealots try to push linux down everyones throat, even where it doesn't belong.

    The people that WANT to use linux are already using it. It's not as if a critical mass of people are JUST ABOUT to use Linux if only X would happen or Y would happen to nudge it along. Like it or not, linux is positioned as a Server OS.

    Currently, OSX isn't enough to convert users. So when Linux is better then OSX, come back and tell me and I'll help you evangalize.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gregmac ( 629064 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:17AM (#15697308) Homepage
    (trolling, but I'll bite..)

    What I find incredibly strange is that a machine like that, 7 years ago, would've been top of the line and lightning fast with Linux. Now it barely runs it? Maybe Linux distributions need to work on their bloat a little. In 1998 I got my blazing fast PII-266 with 512 megs of RAM and a 4 GB hard drive and used that to run Linux just fine. Eventually I even had VMware Workstation running on the thing and it ran fine. Now we've got to have a 3GHz P4 with 2 gigs of RAM and a 300 gig hard drive just to get by? WTF?

    Why is that strange? 7 years ago that machine would have been top of the line and lightning fast with Windows. Now it barely runs it? Oh, it ran Windows 98 back then, now we're talking about Windows XP?

    Linux, like Windows, has introduced new versions. The Linux desktop environments (which is really what you're referring to here, as the Linux kernel itself runs on many many devices) have introduced new versions.

    All the mainstream distros are using KDE or Gnome (which are the two 'big' desktop environments), which are "taking advantage of modern hardware" (in otherwords, they're bloated because current hardware is fast enough to handle it). There are still dozens of desktop environments that are lightweight and will run blazingly fast on 266mhz. You get the added benefit that you're running current versions of everything, including linux itself.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:18AM (#15697312)
    Reasons for staying on Win 98 even after support ends.

    1. They don't know the difference. A lot of people don't know where the hardware ends and the software/os begins. They have an old computer they use the OS that came with it. They do not know there is a windows 2000, XP or the Next Version is vista. They login go to their web pages read their email write a paper print it and turn it off. The fact that support is ending isn't going to make them go off as long as it works they will use it.

    2. Software compatibility. Windows 2000 and Up broke a lot of old software compatibility. They may have tried to see if the App worked on a newer verion of windows but it didn't. But the company who made the app either priced new version to be to expensive, or the people who made it are out of buisness and there will be no new version. So we keep win98 going as long as possible.

    3. Max Return on investment. You run the comptuter and OS to the ground and fix it up until it cost more to keep it running then get a new one. There are companies and schools that are still running Mainframes that by all technical specs are slower and smaller (except for weight and size) then a modern laptop (Even some PDAs). But they are still running them because 20 years ago they paid a million dollers for them so they are going to keep it going as long as it can. The same for a $2000 system.

    4. It is setup just right after 8 years of tinkering with it you got it just right. You can use it with your eyes closed.

    5. Lazy. Just don't care.

    Windows 98 was made in the height of Microsoft glory where more people like Microsoft then Disliked them, security still wasn't a major threat. The Tech Echonomy was booming, Netscape was dieing. Everyone wanted to program for it so a lot of crap was made for it and chances are that someone liked it.
  • Re:Unlikely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by onecheapgeek ( 964280 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:22AM (#15697331) Journal
    If someone with computer knowledge can't make it run well on an older system, what are the odds that a Win98 user can?

    Slim to none. And you wonder why all you fanboys are dismissed. The elitism you show and the way you look down your nose at those whore are unable to perform the text-based install and stripping out unnecessary services and packages is 100% why Linux will never take off.

    What should be happening is that a legacy install, nearly automatic, should be included. Until it is, you "idiots" who don't understand how real people work will continue to think you know it all, when in reality your advanced knowledge of Linux makes you dumber overall.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SilverTab ( 82769 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:29AM (#15697373)

    And how many people who are using Windows98 right now are even going to KNOW about Microsoft ending support for it? Or would even realize what that means?
  • by Simonetta ( 207550 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:35AM (#15697414)
    the BSD telnet client, which is based on the PD NCSA telnet client. ...NCSA telnet client

    In order to use Linux instead of Windows, a person has to spend hundreds of hours relearning everything that they have already mastered about computer usage. If you don't know (and don't have the time) to learn the difference between a BSD telnet client or a PD NCSA telnet client then using Linux is simply not an option.

        Linux users consistently underestimate the extent that their background computer knowledge is needed or used when comparing Windows to Linux. It is this requirement of computer background knowledge which is the main reason preventing the general public from switching to Linux from Windows.

        Myself, I will continue to use Windows 98 forever because it allows direct access to the Pentium input/output ports. Further versions of Windows don't allow this, and I need it. Plus I don't have to depend on the whim of Microsoft to get the OS installed and running. The smaller that the version of Linux is that you install, the more computer knowledge that you need to make it work. And I don't get paid for learning about the computer tools that I use, only for the results that get produced by them.
  • And why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:37AM (#15697432)
    I would have to agree. Seems like in a Microsoft-driven world, people will go out and buy Windows XP or Windows Vista. Even with the WGA in place, people would still buy Windows. I'm all pro-Linux myself, but I still use a Microsoft OS at home. I would like to see Linux take their fair share in the desktop market, but I don't think it will happen with Microsoft dominating the market. Plus, users are too familiar with Windows and are a little hesitant to switch to Linux.

    How hesitant users are to switch depends on the demographics. Mostly it is the older users who are stuck in the Windows cycle, alot of younger people who are comfortable around computers are much more mobile in this respect and willing to try new things. I have seen enough people switch to OS.X from Windows to know that. Of course the OS.X switchers are not exacty a mass exodus but alot of them are not exactly powerusers either and Mac sales have been picking up recently. There is no real reason why Linux as a desktop OS for regular users shouldn't also be able to achieve similar growth and thus help to gnaw away at Microsoft's market share. What keeps regular users (not nerds) away from Linux as a desktop OS is among other things:
    1. The still user unfriendly and sometimes buggy nature of many Linux distributions, especially when it comes to laptop support.
    2. The fact that major PC manufacturers don't offer Linux as an OS option complete with a support package and sell it aggressively.
    3. The sheer flora of desktop environments that are available for Linux since alot of normal users associate the desktop strongly with the operating system however illogical that may appear to a nerd.
    I'd like to see some major PC maker offer a Linux line of Destop and Laptop PC's, a hardware/software package similar in concept to Apple's offerings and with the same effort being put into support, development, making the OS easy and consistent to use and that users can easily get ahold of applications to replace the ones they miss from Windows. The components for this already exists, somebody just needs to get off his/her ass and use them to shake up the computer world like Ryanair and the likes managed to shake up the airline business. One thing is for sure, as long as people keep using Windows as they do nothing and wait for Microsoft to shoot it self in the foot and screw up it's monopoly nothing will change.
  • by Drasil ( 580067 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:39AM (#15697451)

    The article does state "Silver still believes that some users may decide to switch to Linux instead of upgrading to XP but he said existing applications that require Windows are likely to stop a mass migration.". I don't think anyone believes that a huge shift in the OS landscape is here... yet. Windows still has a monopoly, and when Vista is released I expect the masses will rush out and buy it like good consumers despite all the good reasons not to. Similarly hardware vendors will continue to be persuaded to give other operating systems second class support. Some will make the switch, but only in situations where there is someone who advocates an alternative.

    I believe the breakthrough will happen 2 to 4 years after the release of Vista. I have the luxury of not having used Windows since 98SE (I saw the light with ME), so I'm probably not qualified to comment on how good or bad Windows actually is, but from the bits and pieces I read I expect Vista to be the last Windows that will have a monopoly on the desktop. There was a recent /. story (too lazy to search, sorry) which indicated that Microsoft see Vista as the last Windows too, they can be blind sometimes but they're not stupid. Vista may or may not be a huge disaster but with DRM, the rewrite, the expected security problems, malware, the continuing growth of alternatives, Bill Gates jumping ship, with national governments becoming concerned about their information infrastructure being in the hands of a monopolistic corporation based in an increasingly imperialistic and dangerous superpower? If the world doesn't switch it deserves all these things.

    Of course I don't have a crystal ball, but /. is gonna get very interesting in a couple of years.

  • Mere Speculation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1&twmi,rr,com> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:44AM (#15697473)

    If someone is still using Windows 98 they aren't going to have much reason to do anything in upgrading their computer. Consider why they are still running Windows 98 in the first place:

    • They don't want to upgrade because they don't need to.
    • They can't afford newer software/hardware.
    and you think these people are going to run out and upgrade to Linux? Get real.

    If someone doesn't want to upgrade to Windows Whatever then they certainly are not going to make any personal investment in using Linux. No matter what anyone says, changing the OS changes the user interface paradigm and that's a cost to the user. Even migrating to OSX is going to have a cost. I think even transitioning from W98 to WXP is going to have a cost.

    If someone can't afford to upgrade to Windows Whatever they might be interested in Linux. But then you have to consider the rest of their lifestyle. Because they can't afford an upgrade it's likely they don't have an interst in it in the first place. How many geeks eat mac & cheese for a month to get that new dual core? It's a matter of priority and if they can't afford an upgrade then there are obviously other things more important in their life.

    I for one have no real desire to encourage people to migrate to Linux. I don't want to be held responsible if they don't understand something about Linux -- like there is no trash can. I also don't want Linux to become overly influenced by all the whiney charity cases that exist in the Windows world. It was bad enough when I used SuSE for a year... A very different crowd from Debian. But now I'm getting biased...

    Leave it alone. Quite trying to make a big deal out of everything. People will do what they will and things will sort themselves out. If Linux is really that good, it will stick around and attrack like minded people. We don't have to get everyone in the world using Linux. If they want to use Windows that's their business, but they all know I don't do house calls for Windows computers anymore and I'm OK with that.

    Here's another consideration: If everyone uses Linux then that means 50% of the Linux users will have below average intelligence... I would venture to guess that is not the case today and I'm OK with that too.

  • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:10AM (#15697668) Homepage Journal

    I can't possibly imagine ANY SMALL BIZ owner following Scenario 1.

    Certainly not the version of it you describe. Modify your scenario with this, though: Assume the small business has an IT guy who provides support on an as-needed, contract basis, and that guy already knows Linux, knows the distros and knows the applications. So here's how the scenario plays out:

    • Owner sees news article about Win98 end-of-life, gets mildly concerned.
    • Next time owner speaks with IT guy, he mentions that he's worried that his Win98 boxes are no longer getting security updates. Alternatively, it could be the IT guy -- who really hates his periodic trips to clean out viruses and spyware -- that brings it up.
    • IT guy mentions that Linux might fit the bill, and it's free, receives regular security updates and doesn't suffer from virus and spyware problems anyway.
    • Owner asks how hard it would be to switch, and IT guy offers to inventory the applications used by the business, evaluate the hardware and make a recommendation.
    • Owner agrees, IT guy does the inventory and finds that all the machines can run Linux just fine, using a lightweight window manager that looks a lot like Win98, and that there are F/LOSS equivalents to all of the applications being used, with a couple of exceptions which prove to run fine under WINE.
    • Owner has IT guy install and configure Linux on one computer. The user likes a few things better about the new system, complains about several changes, but overall doesn't see all that much difference and adapts quickly (mainly because the IT guy set the new system up to look and feel as close as possible to the old one).
    • Owner has IT guy spend a day and install Linux on all of the machines, plus another to show the employees how to use the new system. It's an up-front cost, but the IT guy assures him that it will pay for itself in reduced downtime and reduced IT support costs due to the lack of malware.

    Can you really say that any of that is unlikely?

  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:14AM (#15697695) Homepage
    If you're spending hundreds of hours relearning, you never really mastered the Windows side
    of the equation- you're operating by rote.
  • by Lorkki ( 863577 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:16AM (#15697716)
    In order to use Linux instead of Windows, a person has to spend hundreds of hours relearning everything that they have already mastered about computer usage. If you don't know (and don't have the time) to learn the difference between a BSD telnet client or a PD NCSA telnet client then using Linux is simply not an option.

    This smells more like a shift of delusion to the other extreme. I haven't been aware of the subtle nuances of telnet clients for the several years I've been successfully using Linux as my primary home platform. Neither is my sister, who can handle Gnome very well for the same basic tasks she uses Windows for. Neither, I'm sure, are many office workers who use Linux at work.

    There's a solid difference between what knowledge you need to use a system and what you need to fully understand it, and you seem to be confusing the two.

    The smaller that the version of Linux is that you install, the more computer knowledge that you need to make it work.

    If you lack the knowledge to make Damn Small Linux work, I doubt you could get a Windows 98 installation from scratch to a useful state by yourself either. On the other hand, if you're the kind of person who installs his own operating system, you're already much more likely to be the person who can read instructions and actually use his head to learn some absolute basics.

  • Re:And why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:37AM (#15697906)
    I used Linux (RedHat7.3, then 9.0, and then Fedora Core 3) for 3 years on my laptop desktop. Recently, I started doing work that required I work in Windows, so I got a new laptop that had Win XP installed.

    I've believed for years that Linux was ready for the desktop but upon switching back to XP, I realize that that's a fairly questionable viewpoint. Yes, it works, but I got used to the hassles I just treated as "normal." It seems like everything is hit more miss, especially on a laptop. It could tell me how much of my battery was remaining, but couldn't completely shut off my laptop's screen. It wouldn't hibernate when I shut the screen. Getting anything but common hardware to work always required tweaking that was, for me, annoying and caused me to put it off, but would be nearly impossible for an end-user. I had to put up with silly interfaces such as GIMP that no-one can really like.

    So when I got my new XP laptop I realized just how much torture I was putting myself through. Everything just works. And, no, the laptop hasn't frozen or crashed a single time in 6 months. I close the laptop screen and it goes to sleep/hibernate. I attach hardware and it just works. I don't have to tweak configuration options when I want to try to burn a CD or DVD. It just works.

    I still have my old Linux laptop, but it's acting as my home office server at this point. It hosts Apache for testing websites, it has MySQL going, etc. And if I'm busy doing something on my Windows laptop I *sometimes* lean over and use the Linux machine to browse to a website or two. But for the most part I've put my Linux laptop back to where Linux still is king: The server. The desktop still belongs to Windows. I say that having been an avid Linux desktop user for 3 years.

    Win98's EOL is not going to make any significant difference for Linux desktop marketshare.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@xoxy. n e t> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:58AM (#15698087) Homepage Journal
    There's a huge difference between being able to buy a machine with an OS and installing it aftermarket.

    To a lot of people, the latter route seems very hacker-esque. If the machine doesn't come with a particular OS pre-installed, then clearly it's not "designed for" that OS. After all, that sticker on the front of the box says "Designed for Windows XP," doesn't it? And you wouldn't want to run an OS on that machine that it wasn't designed for -- that's like putting diesel into a gasoline car. Or something.

    Computers are complex devices, and to many people who don't spend their days working on them, complicated devices. There is a perception that anything you're installing aftermarket must necessarily be an additional level of complexity (even if the resulting system is simpler and/or easier to use, people oftentimes don't consider that).

    The day that you can go onto Dell's Home-user site and order a "PC with Linux" as easily as you can choose one with a 60GB drive versus a 40GB drive will be an important day, if only because it'll serve to break down a little more of the perception that "PC's are supposed to run Windows, even if they can run Linux."
  • by fizzup ( 788545 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:47PM (#15699017)
    An anecdote does not make a case study, but I switched to Linux on the desktop because of the end of support for Windows 98.

    I've been using Linux for over a decade, but never as my desktop OS. I admit that I was well behind on software, still using Office 95, but the cheapest Dell with OS and Office 2K3 is about C$800, whereas the "guy-in-a-storefront-on-Kingsway" computer plus Ubuntu & OO.o is C$400. (I re-used the old monitor, though).

    I assume that most home users just pirate a copy of Windows and Office to keep costs down, but I wonder why. It's morally questionable, tortious, and unnecessary.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:00PM (#15699128)

    My children go to state/public schools (primary and secondary) in a very affluent area.

    Both of their schools run '98-2000 era computers with Windows 98 and ME. Lots of them.

    Now that's a serious investment.

    And not one they can readily "upgrade" (Even though both schools *are* affluent - the primary school just developed a new sports field, with Astroturf.)

    They ain't short of cash, but they can't (from what I hear) afford the "upgrade". They're not considering one machine, they're talking dozens and dozens.

    When you're talking about the behaviour of home users you're talking about the evolution of the market as individuals upgrade over time. But institutions like schools don't work like that - they tend to do it in chunks.

    Think of it like a fleet upgrade. Serious money is involved. And in that situation, a good Linux distribution has to be a proposition (and an opportunity).

    There are times when an installed base is more like a ball-n-chain than an asset.

    This may be one of them

  • by Chonine ( 840828 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:23PM (#15699296)
    With potentially millions of Win98 computers becoming unsupported, there is nothing to suggest they will all or mostly switch to a Linux desktop. But I have every reason to believe that one percent - or even half a percent, or two - would switch over to save costs and improve quality. Grandma wont be the ones to do it on their own, but the people already on the edge, and schools and businesses and the like. We have an older 600MHz P3 / 128MB laptop that Ive put Xubuntu on, and it runs great. My girlfriends old circa '98 laptop that came with Win98, upgraded to XP (deathly slow) is to follow the same path soon. Im sure she isn't the only average computer user who knows a someone who will recommend and help install linux. I'm sure there are actually some grandmas with grandchildren willing to make the switch for them in order to reduce the tech support calls.
  • by MirrororriM ( 801308 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:24PM (#15699856) Homepage Journal
    Besides why would anyone switch to linux? The are few to no applications.

    Surely you jest [].

    Don't even get me started [] on games []...

  • Re:And why not? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Krezik ( 986101 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @02:35PM (#15699964)
    One often overlooked reason that Linux does not get migrants from the Windows exodus is that Linux (by its nature) does not advertize. Look at Apple. Very catchy ad campaigns aimed at simple end users (see the most recent "I'm a PC" "I'm a Mac" ads). Ask what Mac is. He'll give a non-technical answer, but he knows its a competitor for Windows. Ask him what Linux is, and well, answers will vary (Infected by some... linux... or something, etc.). The average computer shopper thinks of the OS debate as Windows vs. Mac, because that's what he sees. It's often not an issue of Linux's availibility or user-friendly-ness, but of exposure. PS: No, I'm not advocating "Hi, I'm open software" "and I'm Microsoft software" ads. I'm not advocating commercials for Linux or other OSS. Corperate software will dominate the end-user market forever. Those of us looking for more will look elsewhere. My hope is that more people start looking for more.
  • lol... from zdnet (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @06:24PM (#15701882) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft's Watson said consumers have the choice to use any version of Windows and dismissed any suggestion that Microsoft has a responsibility to secure older versions of its software. "This issue is not unique to the IT Industry. For example, there are many people on the road who choose to drive the latest cars with the latest safety features such as ABS brakes and air-bags, but at the same time, there are many others who are happy driving their cars which may not have these features.

    No dude, bad example.

    If there's a dangerous flaw with the designed features of your car (i.e., it's defective), it is recalled.

    People don't complain about their 1970s-1980s car not having ABS, because it wasn't designed with it built in.

    If, however, there's a critical flaw involving putting the user in a dangerous situation through normal use (such as perhaps, brake lines being broken by normal movement of the suspension) then the car is recalled. Regardless of whether it's under warranty or not...

    Granted, anyone using Windows in a situation where software failure could be life-threatening deserves to be shot, but it's closer to the situation than users of old software complaining about features that were never designed into their product.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:05PM (#15702913) Journal
    Soon, there will be an exploit that covers all of microsofts operating systems. Probably this exploit will be right after vista is launched and vista will be seemingly exempt from this exploits effects. (it happened with XP's launch)

    Something will happen were some company or government organization who recently upgraded thier software contracts with microsoft. They will talk to the news about how glad they aren't using windows 98-xp anymore or how if they made the switch sooner, they wouldn't have been effected by the exploit. It may even cause services to be disrupted in order to get the news attention. The news will then say microsoft will not fix thier windows 98 operating system because they ended the support for it. In conclusion, The windows 98 users will see they aren't secure and no updates from microsoft will solve that. Then they will be told it is time to upgrade to vista which didn't have the problem in the first place.

    Some might look at it as a well crafted infomercial but in order for that to happen, someone would have to release a virus or keep some security flaw hidden untill it comes to microsofts advantage (microsoft has done this before with XP's sp1 and the help and support bug). Interestingly, it isn't neccesarily what was done but how it looks like it was done that will inform people of the need to switch. At the same time, it will inform them of the alternatives (linux-mac) in a round about way.

Remember to say hello to your bank teller.