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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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  • Fairly Obvious (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:45AM (#15696871) Homepage Journal
    Add to the lack of support the fact that most machines we are talking about are old and slow by today's standards. Modern Windows OSes won't run well if at all on many of them. Linux is a natural choice, so this 'analysis' is fairly obvious and not really news per se. Linux can run quite well on marginal hardware, and is available basically for free, or a small fee if the user(s) want support.

    Nothing really to see here. Move along.
  • Windows ME (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 9x320 ( 987156 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:48AM (#15696892)
    I switched from Windows ME a few months ago after having saved enough money to get Windows XP. Really, Windows ME isn't as terrible as people make it seems. I only go to Slashdot, Wikipedia, and CNN with cookies disabled, so really there isn't much to worry about from getting spyware, adware, and computer virii. I never ran any advanced computer programs, so I never had to upgrade computers. I didn't want to switch to Linux because I had the notion that it was too technical and oriented for computer programmers, and the Linux community was too arrogant to help out any new people with basic problems. Really, Windows ME is okay, as long as you don't go exploring anywhere it's obvious you aren't supposed to. I upgraded computers and operating systems in order to run Celestia, an open-source computer program that lets you view the positions of stars and planets. With it, I can navigate the universe in the same way I navigate the planet with Google Earth. Even with 1.1 GHz and about 386MB RAM, it somehow still has great difficulty loading galaxies and planets.
  • Which (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:50AM (#15696897) Homepage
    I've been mulling this issue for a few weeks. I have an old Toshiba laptop that runs Win98. I've considered switching it over to Linux, but I'm unsure of which distro is appropriate. Of course, I've looked at the big name distros, like SuSE and Ubuntu. But, I'm not convinced they'd run well on old hardware. The laptop is a P2 with 64M RAM. So, I ask you Linux gurus, which distro would be the most suitable?
  • Re:Seems unlikely (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:00AM (#15696949) Homepage Journal
    It won't replace Windows 98 because, by and large, the PCs that are running W98 are too slow to run Ubuntu.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:06AM (#15696983)
    What, exactly, will change for the average Win98 user when MS "discontinues support"?
  • I agree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:17AM (#15697034)
    I'm one of those who tried to switch to Linux. Even though Win98 is blazing fast on my machine, Xubuntu (light-weight Ubuntu with XFCE) has been as sluggish as Win95 on my other computer, a 486-66MHz. I really appreciated how helpfull the Ubuntu forum members were, but after a while they all determined that XFCE would not run any faster on my computer than it did, and so I switched back to Win98SE.
  • by ScottyKUtah ( 716120 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:19AM (#15697039)
    I still use Windows 98 as one of my virtual machines. I'll keep it around for quite a while for a few reasons.

    1. I use Win98 as a test bed for software I download from the internet. If I don't know what will happen, I'll fire it up under the Win98 virtual machine, and see what happens.

    2. Going back to the virtual machines, I use Win98 for all of my Azureus downloading. For some reason, I get the dreaded BSOD when using it on my desktop running XP, but running Azureus under a virtual machine can run for days without a problem.

    3. I have my three year old use the computer under a virtual machine. She can have at it on the computer, and if she destroys or deletes anything critical, I simply go back and load a copy from the clone I made and she's back on it.

    4. I still have some old games from the 90's that simply refuse to run under XP's compatibility. They don't require the latest video graphics, the video that VMWare work for it. By running them under a virtual machine, I can still play them.

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

    by Vlad_the_Inhaler ( 32958 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:25AM (#15697075) Homepage
    I saw this article and turned my Win98 machine on again to download the final updates. Ok, the CMOS values were screwed because it has been unhooked for months, but I have a local Samba time server so wtf.

    This machine is not about to become a Linux machine. The hard disc is too small (fixable, I have another unused one floating around) but the main reason is memory. The beast has 64MB which is not enough for any modern Linux KDE/Gnome system (my old Laptop has 96MB and is pretty turgid), not just that, these old machines would only cache the first 64MB of memory so I would have to start looking at NUMA if I wanted to upgrade (memo to self: does the Laptop have the same problem?).

    Anyone who has a machine of that generation is going to leave it as it is. Linux is not an option.
  • Re:Seems unlikely (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:30AM (#15697100) Journal
    I know this will sound as the same old troll but there is, at least with Ubuntu, a long way to go for the Linux desktop mass "takeover".

    I just installed Ubuntu in a Pentium 3 400mhz that I found in the trash (I love UK) which had Windows 2000. Unfortunately I do not have an internet connection with that machine.

    I configured an account for my flatmate, he is a decent computer literate guy, biologist but he likes technology (he is something like 36 yrold and used to make small BASIC programs in the past).

    I am doing an experiment, the first thing he ased when he started using the machine was "but, does it plays MP3"?, I explained him all the situation (he is a "freedom" [in a broad sense, not in libre software as a lot of people is here] activist so, he understands about copyrights and all that shit) and told him about OGG, and showed him that there was support for OGG out of the box.

    Of course, I also told him I would install the MP3 support, here is where te problems began, I went to the UBUNTU site, and looked for what was necessary to provide MP3 support [], then I downloaded the specified software and tried to installed via USB. None of it installed as every program needed some other program (aka unsatisfied dependency). Even the mp321 needed the id3tag-whatever library. As I didnt wanted to bother I just installed realplayer, and this is what he is using NOW to play mp3 (unfortunatley it does not have a playlist functionality so my friend has to open each file, and there is no way to configure the gnome file manager to make realplayer the default player when you dobule click, it keeps opening in Totem who says that the mp3 is not a multimedia format).

    Then, he opened OpenOffice (I told him about how it would be the equivalent for Microsoft Office for his needs). After he opened I went to do something else, and when I returned, he had in full screen mode and the program was kind of paralyzed. After looking a bit he told me he tried to customize the FullScreen Toolbar (the one that has the "FullScreen" button in it), I just pressed ALT-f4 and then tried again, it seems, the Fullscreen mode in OpenOffice gets "always on top" mode, and then when you try to open the customize screen the window sits under the document window WITH focus, the document window wont get focus unless you close that other window that is behind it. Bad program.

    Ok, then I told him about OpenOffice Draw, I use it a lot (it exports to EPS which I use with LaTex). I told him about the Vector graphics format and explained about the SVG and WMF (told him that SVG is the open and standard equivalent to the windows WMF). I made a fast drawing, selected all the elements and exported as SVG. Then I tried to import that image in a DOCUMENT (Open Office Writer Inert/Image/FromFile) and to my surprise THERE IS NO SUPPORT FOR IMPORTING SVG. There is SGV which is I believe a staroffice format, but it is another thing. I tried chaning the extension to whatever (SGV) without success. it was funny that just two minutes before I had told my friend that Linux was cool because it "recognizes the format from the file content and not from the extension", but then it seems expects the files to have a specific extension. Bad bad program.

    Then I exported the same drawing to WMF (THE WINDOWS PROPIETARY FORMAT) and to my surprise I could import it to OpenOffice Writer without problem (WTF).

    Another annoyance, that is of course a RealPlayer problem is that, there is no way to select which soundcard to use. The motherboard has an integraded soundcard and a Soundblaster live (darn Britons, I cant believe I found it in the trash in a rainy day =o). I configured the SoundBlaster live as the default device (in the Ubuntu menu) but the REalPlayer ignored that. What I had to do is connect the speakers to the integraded soundcard jack and then just selected it as the default sound card.

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

    by philipmather ( 864521 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:47AM (#15697176) Homepage Journal
    > 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.
    They'll make the analysis and indeed decide to buy the latest and greatest but in that process they'll realise that they've now got a brick laying around, if I were a canny Distro I'd produce a "Retro" build speciffically designed and touted to run on old hardware , "like that old Windows box you were going to throw out!", that concentrates on some very specific programs: -

    1) Basic email, notepad, calculator, browser.
    2) Maybe and I'm streching it here a VERY simple accounting package.
    3) Games, old school, NES/Spectrum/Atari emulators, Tetris and bomberman rip-offs, 8 bit grapahics, clunky sound. Proper retro focusing on game play only.
    4) Very simple audio player, CD, Radio, MP3/4. No video, maybe a rip function.
    5) Bit torrent client, so they can leave it running in the background over night etc...
    6) Automagic file backup with idiot proof restore.

    You see where I'm going with this? Big, friendly, clean cut, make it either automagically configure everything under the sun or say that "I can't do that, sorry Dave". Don't even offer them any choices, these people ain't going to want to pick from 12 different editors or configure a RAID drive using the 5 1/4 inch 4GB brick that passes for a hard drive (and yes I've got an IDE 5 1/4 drive on my desk they do exist ;^)). Don't give them "themes", maybe don't even let them upgrade things. Just put programs on there that are rock solid, basic and user friendly and that require no configuration or more importantly maintainence. Make 90% of the OS read-only so they can't bork it or get a virus, try and make it as fast as possible. Hide the command line away and then the first time they actually make it to the command line show them a message that says "this OS is not designed for anything you're about to do so go and install a proper linux on that big Windows machine you've got over there" and when they type "su -" for the first time show them it again.
  • by droops ( 807432 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:53AM (#15697199) Homepage
    This is great for the linux community. i believe in starting them young. here is a guide i wrote on how to turn old 98 boxes into great edubuntu boxes for children. i have been taking older computers, putting more ram in them, and giving them away. it takes no time for a child to adapt to linux, and this way we can teach them a bit more than click on the start button. [] (no adds)
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Luscious868 ( 679143 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:54AM (#15697202)
    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.

    I'd take issue with that. When my parents old refurbished Gateway PC that is running Windows 98 finally dies and they come to me asking advise about what they should purchase next I'll be suggesting that they buy a relatively cheap Mac Mini. I think you fail to take into account the suggestions of those of us who are called on to help friends and family when they are buying new PCs or are having problems with their existing systems. I bought a Mac Mini in December and I love it and am suggesting it to anyone who wants to buy a cheap PC that just works. It's incredibly easy to use and comes with all of the software you need to do all of the basics. iLife is a great package as well for the more advanced user who wants to manage their digital media and if they need a more fully featured Office type package than what comes with the Mac Mini you can always install Neo Office. If they need to use their old Windows apps for an extra $50 you can always go the Parallels Desktop route.

    I'm predicting Apple will see steadily increasing market share in the PC and laptop arena. It won't be an overnight boom but as more and more people like me switch there will be a bit of a halo effect as we bring our friends and families with us.

  • by nick.ian.k ( 987094 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15697295)
    I installed Edubuntu on a spare machine at my job recently, as we do tech stuff for non-profits, and some of them cater to families and children. I'd heard great things about it, and as a bona-fide Linux booster, I was pretty jazzed about the idea of the potential "hey gang, it's fun and educational AND *cough* open source, too!" leveraging. Sadly, it seems less than stellar. As an OS, it works just fine. Visually, the theming seems pretty kid-friendly. But beyond that, I don't see it offering all that much. The educational content ranges from very simple guessing games to slightly more complicated math skill-building to typing instruction to science software --all well and good, but there's not enough there to hold the interest of any given age group, especially given the popularity of hyper-active animation intensive and sound intensive "educational" software out there. Yes, the ADD-ish stuff usually doesn't offer much in the way of real knowledge, skills, etc., but try explaining that to a kid. It's hard to motivate children with something comparatively dry and formal, unless of course they're larval geeklings, in which case they'll probably feel a bit insulted by the childlike theming and would be happier either learning real computer stuff or off playing with Legos and the like.
  • Bad timing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tinkerghost ( 944862 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:27AM (#15697359) Homepage
    People are very funny in some ways. There is a large group of people who will get the message from Windows update that their OS is no longer supported and freak. Nothing's changed between yesterday & today, but they'll absolutely freak. Now when these people go out & get a new WinXP system this month, and the OEMs start shipping Vista in the fall, they are going to be pissed.
    I think that's the big thing I see as a failure here, everyone knows that Vista is coming out, sometime... so what do they do? Wait 3-6 months for Vista, or buy now & be pissed when the new OS comes out? I think this was part of the original scheduling, get Vista shipped, then cancell support for 98/ME. The problem is with the constant push back of Vista, they had to draw the line somewhere. Look at the timing, there are 3 major times PC's get purchased in large numbers:
    1. Start of school year (late Aug/early Sept)
    2. Christmass season (Nov/Dec)
    3. Tax time
    Vista should be shipping this month to the OEMs & in stores the first week of Aug to catch the School rush - it's not going to.
    Vista needs to ship in Late Sept and be in stores by mid October to get all the Xmass rush - it's iffy and probably going to be buggy.
    Vista needs to ship in Feb & be in stores by Mid March to catch the biggest rush of tax refunds - it's supposed to be there by then.
    Cancelling support for 98/ME now (July), drives a 'need' for Vista in August - just in time for school - only Vista's not ready. So your next cutoff is Sept to drive the Xmass rush, but you can't really be sure you're going to be ready for it then either. January? Why wait 6 more months to trash something you've already extended by 2 years?

    Other people have made some very good comments that the majority of the 50-70M installs of 9X/Me are not going to change overnight. There's no reason for it. Most of them are tied to specific custom/niche software in businesses, or in the homes of people who use them as 'internet appliances' - email/light browsing. In both cases, people are happy with them & won't change unless the hardware breaks and they need to - in some cases with specialty software/hardware they will scavenge through the junk piles to build another box that will run it.

    Other people have commented that people won't go to linux because it's slow & crappy on older hardware. I have to say that if you use the default install of everything - yeah linux is a dog. Get rid of MySQL & Postgress running simultaniously when neither are used, and the other dozen services running in the background, and they run fine. I put Ubuntu on a Compaq P2 333 w/ 64K and the only hardware not detected was the integrated soundcard. A crappy Soundblaster from the box-o-junk and it was fine. Stripped down with no extra services, and running in single user mode, it's just fine.

    For the guy running the 75 mhz P1, not a problem - a bit of work perhaps, but DSL or Slackware will still run on a 386.

  • Yeah! For sure! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:06AM (#15697642) Homepage Journal

    How so? If they're unwilling or unable to move fromWin98, then the question of what they might move to is entirely academic.

    It is sometimes easy to mistake the business concept of appropriate technology for ignorance or inability on the part of the business. Don't do that.

    A Win98 standalone computer used to log inventory into a warehouse, with automated batch updating of the corporate network by FTP at 0300 every morning, is not going to be replaced by Vista when it is finally no longer up to the task. It might be replaced by a hand-me-down box running WinXP, but it is also very likely to be replaced by a Linux box that will be less expensive to clean up and maintain than a used XP box. It is not a matter of whether the business has the technical expertise to upgrade these old boxen. It is all about which replacement path will have the lowest long term cost in running specific programs in a fairly simple environment.

    From TFA, there may be around 70 million Win98 boxes in the business world that are being used appropriately for mundane tasks ranging from basic data collection to word processing of sermons and beg letters. This is not a potential Vista market, but it is a very likely Linux growth area.

  • HAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:36AM (#15697894) Journal
    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.

    You own me a keyboard.

    That was really funny. So, you *really* believe that an IT (from the real world, not your imaginary Sylvania []) guy will prefer to install and mantain Linux based operating system Desktops against Windows OS desktops?.

    My bet would be that your IT guy will say the manager "get rid of those computers and replace them with new ones, the productivity of the people will increase". Of course these new machines will have WinXP.

    It is very, VERY rare the IT (from a small company) that wants to bother with mantaining Linux distirbutions and, moreso that wants to be annoyed with calls from users about "why is this Office thing not working".

    Man, you ARE funny.
  • Re:Cost of Training (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shaneh0 ( 624603 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:41AM (#15697941)
    If Linux was ACTUALLY this easy to use, WE'D ALL BE USING IT. The fact is, that it's NOT.

    Most likely your IT provider ISN'T a linux pro. Most likely he'll try to sell you $10,000 in Citrix becuase that's who his company is affiliated with and they get kickbacks. But that's a whole different issue.

    Most likely you won't be able to find Apples-to-Apples software replacements for the applications you're currently using, not in an afternoon. It would be a little more work then you describe.

    Most likely the users need a LOT more training then a guy to "show [them] how to use the new system." You have to assume a fair cross-section. This means, say, 1/3 of the staff is a younger, more flexible audience, 1/3 is the type that started working with Smith Corona ruled the business world and who took a year to pick up the salient features of Microsoft Word, and 1/3 is in the middle. This is an issue of fixed, up-front training costs, and open-ended costs associated to lost-productivity. I don't care HOW GOOD the linux software is, it's going to hit productivity.

    Most likely linux will INCREASE support costs for this small business. When Windows crashes there's a good chance the on staff technician (read: 23y/o graphic designer that just happens to be the most knowlegable PC user in the biz) can fix the usual problems. But when linux crashes--and it will, these are not technical users. If it can break, they will break it--it means an AUTOMATIC call to their contract-IT guy who charges $100 just to SHOW UP.

    So while my scenario may have been pessismistic, yours was CLEARLY overly optimistic. And if it's MY MONEY on the line, I'll assume worst case scenario.
  • Re:I agree (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cculianu ( 183926 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:54AM (#15698052) Homepage
    2) GCC, while top notch in adherence to language specifications and portability, does not generate binary code that is as efficient as Microsoft or Borland's compilers. This is very noticeable when compiling the same code base (especially C++ code) on Linux via gcc, and on Windows using Borland and/or Visual C++. The latter two, though, have significant problems adhering to language standards. They also have the advantage of not having to work on anything but x86, so they can make assumptions that GCC has not been able to make. GCC 4 saw a big change in its optimization framework which promises to allow future versions of GCC to substantially catch up.

    Wtf are you talking about?

    Even if what you are saying about GCC is true, in general, you don't get that much of a performance benefit for desktop apps from the compiler you choose. Nope, not for desktop apps. Probably the shared library loader, the windowing/rendering environment, the kernel's responsiveness to interrupts and scheduling policies (kernel preemption is good for peppiness) and other things have a much bigger impact on the desktop experience than a few perecentage points of efficiency gained from a compiler.

    Really native code is damned fast anyway, and compiler optimization is just icing on the speed-cake. And anyway GCC is a pretty good optimizing compiler. I take issue with the assertion that Microsoft or Borland's (bleh, Borland) compiler are that much better.

    Now Intel's compiler is another matter altogether (which, by the way, you can use to compile an entire distro if you had the license and the time!).

    Anyway, as far as Windows apps go: most apps you are likely to run *today* were compiled under Visual Studio 6 (which is a 1998 compiler), which is arguably worse than GCC 3.3.6 (the most common compiler used on most distros today) at optimization.

    Why do developers still use VS 6? I am not sure -- but it seems to still be the most popular windows compiler for most windows developers to out there -- probably because it took microsoft so damned long to replace it that it got ingrained into everything people do.

  • by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @11:25AM (#15698306)
    i'm afraid i disagree simply because the kind of people that use Windows 98 are too cheap to upgrade, or their machines are too slow for an upgrade.. Typically, they want to get on the Internet, browse the web, check their email, and write up documents or spreadsheets... Linux would be the perfect solution for the majority of people that use those simple applications.. Few to No?? I personally think you need to actually read what has been going on in the linux world for the past 10 years.. there are thousands of applications, and plenty of them are completely practical and easy to use..

    my bosses are cheap, and it will take QUITE a bit of convincing that we need to spend more money to buy a new computer, and a license of XP.. if you tell them something is free, they are all ears.. thats the simple fact that this article is trying to get through to people..

  • No Real Impact (Score:2, Interesting)

    by blacknblu ( 988181 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @11:26AM (#15698328) Homepage

    As long as Windows 98 will run AOL, that is what I'll recommend to my Grandmother. I would hazard a guess that the majority of users that are still using Windows 98 aren't power users, and probably haven't gone to Windows Update in a number of years because the downloads take too long over dialup.

    I would like to know who this is really going to impact. If an individual is still using 98, Microsoft isn't the primary support. The computer guy at work, your son-in-law, or neighborhood kid is the primary support for Windows 98.

  • Wait... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @11:58AM (#15698636)
    and there is no way to configure the gnome file manager to make realplayer the default player when you dobule click, it keeps opening in Totem

    Wait... Not to troll, but GNOME hardcodes its own media player for opening MP3s? And then we complain about Microsoft...
  • by ukemike ( 956477 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:10PM (#15698733) Homepage
    Until very recently I knew a grand total of three people who had used linux on their own PCs. Two were programmers and the third was talked into redhat by one of the programmers (he didn't stick with it for long). In the last 6 months, I know 3 additional people (and myself) that have started using linux. 2 are using it on rescued ex-win98 machines (like me) and one on an older winXP machine. Of course MS not supporting win98 had nothing to do with it in any of these cases. In my case the PC was simply unusable. After a few hours fiddling around with it I remembered how much I hate the whole win9x family and I said "@%^#$!$#^$ it's $&*!*&%!*# time #@$^@^$ to try @#$^@# linux!" I have observed that since exorcising win98 from my home and bringing in the benevolent spirit of unbuntu, my cursing has been much reduced.

    Of course this isn't necessarily good news for linux. One way to look at it is that linux is finally good enough that it is better than a broken down, dog slow, crashy install of win98. And I have had nothing but trouble with the "new" linux box but I'll save all that for the next "is linux finally ready?" type thread.
  • Corporate Effect (Score:2, Interesting)

    by enos feedler ( 988204 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:01PM (#15699134)
    I worked at a major hardware company where all hardware diagnostics was written on the Win98 platform. Therefore, all OEM partners were using Win98 for their diagnostics platform as well in order to run diagnostics for this particular hardware. For a long time there was motivation to move the diagnostics platform from Win98 over to Linux but it was always put on the backburner do to higher prority tasks and not enough resources. The expiring of the Win98 license pushed the decision over the edge and Linux is now the primary development platform for diagnostics at this company, along with all of its OEM partners. I think its plausible that this isn't the only case of this.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:54PM (#15699569)
    I can't answer for others, but as for me, I'd been using 98SE for quite a while (since '99). I have a family member who uses XP on her system, I've seen it, used it a few times, and found the experience to be less than ideal. I have recently switched to SUSE 10. That experience was, for me, a little unnerving at first, but still preferable over XP, and while there have been issues with some of the software I run on it, overall, I've been pleased with the results. My only real gripe has been in resolving the library dependencies for some of the software, (finding frontends for xmame that actually work on my system being one example) compiling software to resolve these issues can be a little daunting for someone used to Windows.
              From my perspective, it seems that the primary stumbling block to Linux as a mainstream alternative to Windows is the need to resolve such software dependencies in an easy manner. A lot of the Windows users I know like MS products because of ease of installing the various software available to them. They just pop in a CD/DVD, and if it doesn't start right off, then navigating to a directory and clicking a startup proggie is a relatively simple matter. Linux is a bit more involved than that in my experience, and until that issue is properly addressed, I'm rather afraid that many Windows users are going to simply dismiss Linux as the domain of the digerati and leave it at that.
              Is that a bad thing? Perhaps not, but then again, it leaves a lot of folks at the mercy of a pseudomonopoly which chisels away at the fundamental rights of free speech, assembly, and property ownership all for the sake of pursuing the almighty dollar/ euro/ yen or what have you. For the sake of convenience, many Windows users willingly accept this erosion of their basic rights, effectively setting the stage for their own undoing (and everyone else's) at the legislative level. Is it any wonder that MS receives preferential treatment by many governments/ officials? Populations that willingly suspend their rights for a convenience are far easier to control, after all. To be sure, MS isn't the only culprit here, but they are a highly visible one. It may sound cliche', but for any people to remain free, they must exercise vigilance, and more than a little common sense. It applies to everybody.
  • it makes sense (Score:2, Interesting)

    by treak007 ( 985345 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:55PM (#15700692)
    I know plenty of people still running Windows 95 and 98, not because they are too lazy, but rather because they don't feel like paying, or don't have the financial resources, to purchase the new version of Windows, especially when they know that they can update to a newer, but not newest version of Windows, for less money. This makes Linux a very strong competitor in this field. I have had numerous friends ask me to help them set up Linux distros on their computer simply because the free aspect is so appealing. Once people see that they can update to a new version of Linux, one capable of doing practically anything and more then a Windows box, people who are technologically literate, or have technologically literate friends, will begin to switch, and if people switch to Linux, they won't be purchasing a newer (say from 95 to 2000) version of Windows.

    For those who say that the linux destktop has a long way to go, when is the last time they have used a linux system? There is always room for improvement, but I would say that the more recent versions of linux (ubuntu 6.06 dapper for example or fedora core 5) have come insanely far in terms in desktop support. I have ubuntu x32 installed on my desktop, and I honestly say that I rarely ever use Windows Xp on my desktop anymore, because for almost any task, (yes, even gaming) I can use ubuntu and do anything far more efficiently if not just as well as it can be done on a Windows machine.

    While I don't believe that this will be a massive blow to Microsoft, or even a paper cut for that matter, It still will convert some people over, and a few people converting can be a indicator of the times. Microsoft will need to be careful in the future to try not to alienate too many people. Otherwise the paper cut might turn into a gash.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:50PM (#15702371)
    ...Just a little thought, take this with a grain of salt because I know the online specs from the hardware companies say different... ...but I have been building computers for about four years, and one thing myself and my other 'techies' discovered is that the intel 865 chipset ended intel's support for windows 98. (If they have resumed support in later chipsets I have not known of it.) I called intel because they say on their site that it is supported, but after seven 'helpful' representatives they transferred me to someone who infomred me that it is no longer supported. If that was the simple brush-off for a hard to answer question, it seems to answer the question why a fresh install would always fail on those motherboards.
              I find it doubtful that other chipsets will continue to support an operating system that is eight years old. Even a Dell inventory-clearing-sale machine will come pre-loaded with software and it is doubtful that it will support an operating system three versions older, (at least), than the one currently loaded on the machine.
          That eliminates the people in your groups 2 and 3. Group one will be tempted,(from what I have seen in my experience), to buy an apple because they are the "luxury" level of computers... simply because it is finally 'time to upgrade' and their programs will not work no matter what they do... unless it is running a virtual machine with win98. That might be more popular in the future as well. In any case, I would look to see large sales of computers in the near future for every 'hardware' vendor. I don't think there will be a massive boost in any camp, but that it will be distributed.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal