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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@ja w t h e s h a r k . 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.

    • 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.
      • by RoyGBatty ( 984246 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:41AM (#15697155)
        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

        What a coincidence! I would like to see Barack Obama as President, but I don't think it will happen with George Bush in office.

      • 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.
    • Plus that most companies (I doubt if there are many home users tunning W98 as there main OS) are using W98 because some software demands it. There is a lot of specialized (custom) software around that might never been ported to a later Windows version..
      • 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.
        • 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.
          How so? If they're unwilling or unable to move fromWin98, then the question of what they might move to is entirely academic.
          • Yeah! For sure! (Score:3, Interesting)

            by mysticgoat ( 582871 ) *

            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.

    • The machines still running Win98/ME are probably all older machines that keep on chugging

      My dad's GF's daughter mentioned to me in passing the other day that she turns her cable modem off when she goes out because her windows 98 system has 128 viruses on it or some number like that. I ran off a copy of unbuntu for her to take home. A similar thing happened with my sisters machine in the share house where she lives.

      The only real problem is that gnome, et al, won't run well on an older machine. I think the

      • You might want to try http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ [damnsmalllinux.org] on that machine if it's only really used for surfing and e-mail. I have a few P166 and P400 laptops running it now and it works great. Quite peppy on those machines. It's designed to be a "Live CD" so you can test it out. If you like it, it can be installed on a computer from the same disk.

        Now if your Dad's GF's Daughter (we call them Great Aunts here) doesn't like the word "damn" in the name, then that may be a problem. But I'm sure she said that word ma
      • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:23AM (#15697062) Homepage
        Well, XUbuntu (a new xfce desktop for Ubuntu) should solve the problem of high processor needs, but RAM is still a worry for getting a legacy box into Linux world. XUbuntu still needs 128 megs just to install using the default (n00b-friendly) installer. A lot of these old win98 boxes have only 32 or 64 megs of RAM in them. Yes, old PC100 ram is cheap on eBay, but that's a substantial difference from just downloading and running a piece of software.

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

      by exit3219 ( 946049 )
      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, 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:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Informative)

          by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:40AM (#15697455)
          I ran Linux in a much more constrained environment back in 1993 (4MB RAM with ample swap, 40MB Disk, 386, laptop) and it ran at a decent speed with a decent set of applications (yes, even back then).

          I'd be *really* surprised if Linux today couldn't fit in your environment. But you'll likely have to forget KDE/GNOME. They're *nice* but not necessary. My old system used FVWM which is still perfectly capable (I was used it last year on Solaris -- there's even a Win95-like config), although now there are slicker alternatives like XFCE and IceWM which are also available and better supported by default on many distros.

          Here are a few alternatives to consider which are more targetted to your needs. You might want to them all out and see which one you like best:
          https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Xubuntu [ubuntu.com]
          http://www.puppylinux.org/user/viewpage.php?page_i d=1 [puppylinux.org]
          http://www.vectorlinux.com/ [vectorlinux.com]
          http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ [damnsmalllinux.org]
        • Anyone who has a machine of that generation is going to leave it as it is. Linux is not an option.

          Not necessarily. If I am a school with lets say two computer labs (30 computers each), I could buy a server (or two) and utilize all of those systems as thin clients. This would be a huge upgrade as far as performance and capabilities from a Win98 config (in most cases) and significantly reduce the administrative overhead (frequent re-imaging of systems, BSODs, etc..). In addition, the upgrade would be probably

    • Increased demand for Linux on the desktop? Highly unlikely. The machines still running Win98/ME are probably all older machines that keep on chugging.

      Unless they get connected to the internet.
      Then they get 0wned, and something must be done.
    • 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.
      • 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:Cost of Training (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wylfing ( 144940 )

          If YOU were that small business owner, with 10-15 employees and 10 older '98 machines, which do you think is more likely?

          I am a small business owner.

          Any small business owner interesting in remaining in business will take a hard look at all three of those alternatives. First of all, you need to pay the IT guy no matter what, so the IT personnel costs (and employee downtime costs) among options 1 and 2 and 3 are identical. And realistically the cost of obtaining 15 new desktop computers is not $500 each. F

        • by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> 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?

          • Re:Cost of Training (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shaneh0 ( 624603 )
            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
    • I've got an old CTX700E notebook running Windows 98 SE. It only has a 2GB HD. I maxed out the RAM, but forget what it holds.

      I tried at one point to upgrade it to Windows XP Home Edition, but the install filled the HD and it was slow as molasses. So I tried some flavor of *nix (Red Hat?) but it equally filled the HD and was equally slow. I know you can pick and choose what things to install but I don't know what things are good and what things aren't so I just say "install everything".

      It could be a fun c
    • 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.
    • The hardware of the late 1990's and early 2000's was the most closed windows dependant hardware I've ever seen. The integrated video hardware of today is way more compatible than of that time. Although many OEM's don't "support" Linux today, many at least test their hardware and attempt to run on linux (intel, adaptec, promise, atheros, ati, nvidia, amd, dell, hp, etc). Back then many OEM's had no clue about linux. A great deal of these computers probably have winmodems too so there's little chance of inter
    • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
    • Re:Fairly Obvious (Score:3, Informative)

      by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      I think most companies that still run 98/ME machines have to do so because the specific application they depend upon will not run on newer versions of the operating system, let alone entirely different operating systems.

      Besides; don't fix it if it ain't broken.
    • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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'??
    • Re:Useless (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bluebox_rob ( 948307 )
      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.

  • by amelith ( 920455 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:45AM (#15696873) Homepage
    Microsoft confirmed that they would begin supporting Windows XP sometime during Q3 this year.

  • 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.
  • Undoubtedly (Score:5, Funny)

    by samael ( 12612 ) <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:46AM (#15696880) Homepage
    The kind of people who are still running Windows 98 are exactly the same people who will happily run Linux. And these same people really care about whether it's supported by Microsoft or not.
    • > The kind of people who are still running Windows 98 are exactly the same people who will happily run Linux. And these same people really care about whether it's supported by Microsoft or not.

      You forgot the /sarcasm, so now you will be modded Insightful ;-)
    • *calming voice*

      Sssshhhh... Its okay. This is Slashdot. Your sarsasm, while funny, is misplaced.

      Here drink this kool aid. You'll understand.

      Shhhhh... it'll all be clear soon.
  • Seems unlikely (Score:4, Informative)

    by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <rich.annexia@org> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:46AM (#15696881) Homepage
    The BBC was having a "Have Your Say" discussion [bbc.co.uk] about this, and no one was talking about Linux at all. The closest it got to talking about alternatives was someone sarcasticly saying they should go back to Windows 3.1 ... It seems that even giving away free Ubuntu CDs containing such a great OS isn't enough to get through to the general population.


    (PS. That discussion link just stopped working, but I expect it'll be back up shortly).

    • Re:Seems unlikely (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Adelbert ( 873575 )
      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.
      • Go to any random person on the street and ask them if they've heard of Ubuntu. Dollars to donuts, they won't have.

        True enough, but I think the real problem is familiarity. People have a huge investment learning all the strangeness of Windows and its applications. They didn't want to learn it then, and they certainly don't want to learn it all over again now.

        The best thing to do, therefore, is to wait for the older Windows users to die off[1], and find new Linux users amongst young people and new user

      • Re:Seems unlikely (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jb.hl.com ( 782137 )
        It won't replace Windows 98 because, by and large, the PCs that are running W98 are too slow to run Ubuntu.
      • 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 [ubuntu.com], 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 OO.org 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 OpenOffice.org 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.

  • 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 [microsoft.com] for Windows 98 and Windows ME today, and nobody is reporting that the move will boost demand for Windows 2000 on bittorrent [thepiratebay.org] . Unlike two years ago -- when support for Win98 was extended because so many people complained about the early cutoff [bbc.co.uk] -- 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 [linuxvirus.net], 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.

    • 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:Unlikely (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:04AM (#15696969) Homepage
      seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine [linuxvirus.net], 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.

      that is the biggest pile of FUD I have ever heard. I am running Ubuntu on machines ranging from P-III Celeron 700 to AMD 3000+ with 128-512 meg of ram. it ALWAYS runs faster than XP hands down. Finally Mandriva also works well on those machines, although mandriva still has the bug that you need to reboot after the first login to get rid of an installer service that sit's in the background eating cycles. Just like XPMCE 2005 does right now on new installs. (BTW, you want to try a dog? XP tablet edition with SP2 installed is incredibly slow on a P-III 866.)

      Ubuntu live-install CD is broken for most hardware It hates legacy Nvidia video cards, the alternative install CD works on everything perfectly. It even worked on a high end workstation I was messing with that XP refused to install on because of the SCSI raid card, linux was happy with it.

      • that is the biggest pile of FUD I have ever heard
        This is the second such accusation I've received for that post. Paranoia ahoy!
      • Not FUD (Score:3, Informative)

        by Comboman ( 895500 )
        seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine [linuxvirus.net], 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.


        that is the biggest pile of FUD I have ever heard.

        I've had the same experience as the OP and I can tell you it's not FUD. On the glowing recommendations of the Slashdot crowd, I order

    • 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.
  • Windows ME (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 9x320 ( 987156 )
    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 program
  • 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:Which (Score:3, Insightful)


      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
  • I was about to say that this means that I no longer have any supported versions of Windows, but then I remembered that the most recent version I have is Win95 OSR2, not Win98. So I guess haven't had a supported version for a while. '98 was when I finally gave up on dual-booting and dumped Win for good, not when I got my last copy... :)
  • If you've been running a computer with either of these operating systems, you have been doing so for many years now. Chances are you sorted out any kinks you had a long time ago and you are aware of any pertinent security issues and have made your decision to stick where you are. So why would anyone who has stuck with either OS for so long get excited about a lack of official support?
    • It's all paid support anyway. You can get that from your nearest consultant on demand, far into the future. This applies to 95, 98, Linux, or anything else for that matter. Once you're footing the bill, you can get any support you want. I don't see how this will change anything. Support from a private consultant is likely to be better quality support than MS over the phone anyway.
    • 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 r
  • Yeah right (Score:2, Troll)

    by Alioth ( 221270 )
    I tagged the article "wishfulthinking" - because that's what it is. The thing is those still running Windows 98 didn't really have any support to begin with, and are likely home users who haven't moved off Win98 because they don't know how to install Windows XP. Even though things like Fedora Core are really easier to install than Windows these days, most people running Win98 probably have absolutely no interest in learning how to use even an easy-to-use desktop Linux distro.

    It will likely be a decade befor
    • Thanks!
      Now I can more easily look for articles that are "wishfulthinking".
      That's almost as usefull as those "no", "yes" and "maybe" tags; how often did you find yourself asking "now where is that article that some random guy didn't know to agree with or not?".
  • riiiight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 )
    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.
  • Those who are still running Windows98 are most likely to do nothing in the immediate future (as opposed to moving to linux or windowsxp/2000). Those who do upgrade their OS are likely to upgrade the whole machine and therefore end up with winxp box.

    That being said, however, there are what, 50 million win 98 users (FTFA, if I remember right)? There's a fair chance that at least some of them are going to upgrade the OS only. And here's the funny thing. If MS really continued support for Win98 for 2 years
    • So which version of RedHat or SuSE (the only brands a typical consumer might know) do I have to get to run on my pentium 75MHz box? Most Linux distro's nowadays have a very bad time running on old hardware, especially the distro's that are well known.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Has anyone ever checked if Firefox on Xubuntu runs faster than IE on Win98 on an old machine? Because the current Ubuntu/Fedora/SuSe stuff sure as hell are slower and will likely crawl along on machines that would still have a reasonable speed to work on some old machines I have seen.

    And what about Office 97 vs. OpenOffice 2.0?

    Or does anyone have a better idea on which office suite to use on those "converted" machines.

    Before some people actually ran some tests I doubt that Xubuntu a viable alternative on an
  • 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 microsoft.ask.slashdot.org 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.
  • tough call (Score:3, Informative)

    by spykemail ( 983593 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:48AM (#15697181) Homepage
    This is a tough call. Who still uses Windows 98 or ME? Most likely PC users with very old boxes. While that screams Linux to people like me, the kind of people with such boxes probably don't know what Linux is.

    More than likely this will be a boost for cheap Dell and HP sales, if anything. That's assuming the people using them know or care that Microsoft no longer supports their OS. They'll probably just keep their boxes going until something breaks, this will just help speed things up.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Mere Speculation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tacocat ( 527354 ) <tallison1@NoSPam.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.

  • 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.

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.