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Xerox-Microsoft Partner 49

tea-leaves writes "Xerox and Microsoft are partnering to put Windows NT in their print boxes and such. Story says the technology replaces "UNIX-compatible" software already in place. Xerox wants to compete with HP for the desktop printing market with integrated printer solutions that use Microsoft software for the interconnect. Check it out. " I feel like we're going to have to re-sanctify Palo Alto after this.
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Xerox-Microsoft Partner

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  • by drwiii ( 434 ) on Sunday May 16, 1999 @04:39PM (#1890031)
    This is a match made in heaven. Both companies excel at copying other people's work.


  • This ISN'T the consumer market being talked about. Xerox is built on reputation and service. They make good hardware and back it up with onsite service. Much like the previously mentioned Bell, they 'need it to just work' which leads to the Bell Labs design paradigm: ensure the service first and then service the end user.

    Truely consumer ready technology simply require the hiring of an excessive number of techs. For what is left, Xerox onsite support should be more than adequate.

    It would make more sense for Xerox to adopt VMS. They're gambling with their livelihood and reputation with such a move. They're far better off putting their own friendly face on what they've already developed for Unix than going to the trouble and expense of porting everything.

    Think about that: what woulld really be more expensive? Would it be the port to NT, or the effort spent to make their Unix solution less intimidating.
  • It sounds like Xerox was doing bad engineering all round on this system. Any consumer device needs to be able to take the sort of abuse a consumer will subject it to. This is my basis for claiming that Win9x isn't a consumer ready system.

    A more sensible (for the given conditions) configuration for these Unix boxes should not have been such a great effort on the part of Xerox.

    Actually, this is something that Redhat and the rest might want to consider.
  • If anything, one would think that they would be concerned about the $$$. If not, they could just run QNX or somesuch. It's not as if one HAS to run NT in order to get to deal with some centralized commercial entity.

    Linux isn't the only other game in town...
  • Why NT? Whats the benfit? NT costs more (than Linux/*BSD) Linux/*BSD+Samba+Apache+Scripts..You have a box that can practically talk to everything...IP/IPX/Appletalk.. Just doesn't make any sense... Can someone please explain the business decision to me? NT will cost them more and overload under any real strain.... Please, someone explain this to me??????
  • but we shall spread wisdom!
  • i wonder, whether HP choose some UNIX as opposing step (MS cant make comaradeship with both Xerox and HP, can it?).
  • i wonder WHEN people realize they are cheated and that money are being stolen from them!
  • I'm willing to hazard a guess that the "UNIX-compatible" software they're talking about is WindRiver Systems' vxWorks, which would make sense. After all, in a copier or printer, you're going to want an RTOS there to handle things in a reasonable amount of time.

    It's a shame they feel the need to move to an inherently non-RTOS. It reminds me of something I heard in a class a few weeks ago... The prof was talking about how M$ was coming out with a real-time NT, and when it hit the market, everyone would start using it since "there's nothing else out there." Too bad I wanted to pass the class.
  • Well, I had a 1 in N shot. I guessed @ vxWorks since it's what I'm most familiar with. I've never worked w/ LynxOS, but it's still an RTOS in exactly the way NT isn't...
  • Didn't your mother teach you that?

    They're gonna be sorry still, mark my words. (I wonder if it takes a colour copier to bluescreen? :)

    As Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote already in the 17th century in a letter, "You do not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is ruled". Little has changed.
  • Let's see...I go to copy a bunch of stuff, and my Xerox machine BSODs on me. Oh yeah, silly me. I didn't use Microsoft(tm)-brand paper in the copier. It'll only crash-and-burn 50% of the time then. Hrm...wonder if it'll be possible to format the printer and install Linux?
  • First off, Kinko's employees aren't all bad. It depends on the Kinko's you go to. (Sorry, I'm an ex-Kinkoid and that really bugged me.).

    My apologies. The point I was making was not that Kinko's employees are idiots. I meant to imply that dropping a *nix box in the midst of people who had largely come over from web presses less than five years earlier, and who you'd have no reason to expect would know the first thing about running a *nix server, is a pretty bad idea (from a "keep the customer happy with their new toy" point of view.)

    Sure enough... it was a terrible idea. I was the only one who knew the first thing about it, and that was quite by coincidence.

    Anyhow, apologies all the same.


  • by Pudding Yeti ( 9773 ) on Sunday May 16, 1999 @04:29PM (#1890044)
    This puts me in mind of my first encounter ever with a PHB.

    I worked at a copy shop in a major midwestern university that shall go unnamed. We ran three Xerox Docutechs and some smaller machines.

    We ended up buying a Sun/Xerox network box of some sort. It was brought in with a lot of fanfare. I was a courier at the time, but the school gave all employees accounts on the school computers, so I was learning my way around as an Ultrix user from a Lear/Seigler ADM3a+ and a 1200 baud dialup at night.

    Everyone stood around while the techs installed the thing and brought it up. I had never, at that point, seen X in action before so I had no idea there was a *nix under the hood. It wasn't until one of the techs brought up a term and I saw some of the commands they were typing that I realized what it was.

    The boss 'in charge' of the machine announced that we were going to take great pains to keep the machine in good shape, and in order to keep it like new, we'd be shutting it down promptly at five every night.

    Needless to say, it began to accumulate stuff that never got shuffled out by whatever housekeeping it was supposed to be doing at night, and soon the hard drive was full of undeleted tmp files and aborted print runs.

    Eager to prove myself, pre-larval as I was, I went to the PHB and pointed out that the machine was running some sort of Unix and we ought to leave it on, as God intended, or figure out how the housekeeping was supposed to be done and reset some times. She told me it was just like Windows (3.0 was the current version at the time) and we didn't need to do that. I went over her head and got permission to at least twiddle with it to keep the logs rotated and the /tmp files cleaned out. She promptly took all the documentation and locked it in her office, changed all the passwords, and had me rotated to the night shift.

    The machine continued to crash right and left, and no one could get at it to fix things. The PHB kept insisting it was just a faulty product. It was eventually branded a failed experiment and taken away.

    I've since thought it was a rotten idea to sell a *nix box to a bunch of glorified Kinko's employees and expect them to do anything other than what they did at my shop. The support was god-awful, and the training I was eventually sent to never went past 'this is the garbage can... this is how to click and drag.'


  • What my Sun sales rep, and one of the people who allegedly helped work on it told me, is that Xerox helped design the Sun E450 server because they couldn't get enough I/O throughput out of the Sun Ultra Sparc 2 machines to serve the big color printers. The E450 has a theoretical I/O bandwidth of around 2GB/s (or around that).

    Personally, I'm guessing the network printers will have some sort SMB capabilities built in. The current line of network printers has Unix LP, NetWare, AppleTalk, and possibly whatever Windows uses (as well as a web server) built into it.

    Disclaimer: I work for Xerox, but as a Unix SA in an area totally unrelated to product design. I don't know nothing official about this.
  • That is just the way Xerox is. They had a chance to own the entire personal computing market, but the ignorant freaks who run the company thought it would be a waste of time and money to venture into the "PC" world. Sounds a lot like the business decision by Western Union to turn down that stupid "Telephone" invention that crack Alexander Graham Bell invented. They said telegraph is the future, you won't ever need anything more.

    The problem is that company execs go more for the Reader's Digest version of the world because it makes decision making easier. Ignore the people screaming below you and it will all go away. Their only real goal is to keep the stock value up.

    The Open Source movement has lost some of its momentum with the latest mindcraft study. Not because of any true validity (not for me to decide as I haven't read all of the details), but because of its perceived validity to "Reader's Digest" company exec drones. The most important thing is to realize that no ONE solution is the best. Xerox has shot itself in the foot again by cutting off access to their printers to anyone but NT. Thank GOD we have other printing options. We just got the HP 8100 in our office and man do I love it. HP's got this platform independent concept called "Jet Direct" that can adapt to any platform as long as it uses any one of several common protocols (TCP/IP, IPX etc etc).

    Please please please continue to build momentum for the open source movement! It is the only weapon we have against the "Pointy Haired" people!
  • Xerox is using uinix for print servers for it's copiers? I haven't seen *all* of their product line, but almost everything they use for high-end stuff runs Fiery-XJ (not unix) and OS/2. Besides, these boxes have been way expensive for Xerox to produce, and I cans ee why they would reduce the cost there... but they are (MS and Xerox) a match made in heaven. Fiery doesn't work that hot anyways... just go to IKON and buy the same model copier and get the sgi print server :)

  • Xerox Reps have admitted that the internals of the Docu-Centres run Linux. The Big guys (DP65 and up) run Solaris Stations.

    My guess is that MS threatened to make the Xerox printers run poorly unless they switched to NT on the inside.

    -- Keith Moore
  • A: "NT is easier to use."

    B: "It's too $#&^* unreliable!"

    A: "Not if you can find someone that knows how to run it."

    Must be convenient to live in a world where you can have it both ways.

  • It seems like a lot of overkill to add NT support in a printer/scanner/fax. I mean NT is rather bloathed.

    On the other hand it may have some advantages:
    - ms exchange integration (it is a crappy mailprogram, I know that, but it would be interesting to have in a printerserver for companies that already use it)
    - integration with other NT services, is difficult from UNIX/LINUX since most of it is propietary MS stuff
    - NT comes with a lot of useful functionality (webserver, tcp/ip, database) for a server. Although most of it is available in some UNIX form it might be nice (again for integration purposes) to have this stuf in a NT flavor

    Though I'm not a big fan of NT or any other MS products, they are widely used in companies and it would be nice for those companies to have printers/scanners/whatever that integrate with it.

    Other platforms:Using NT they can also support Jini for offering support for non MS environments.

    Stability: Xerox will probably not use a standard installation of NT (i.e. they will remove anything they don't need like GUI stuff, stupid games, notepad)

    So maybe it's not such a stupid idea and there may be a market for it after all.

    Greetings Jilles,

    please don't flame but provide me with real arguments why this is a bad idea considering the current market positions of both xerox and MS.
  • The Xerox copier/fax/print stations had PowerPC CPUs inside, large Hard drives and ran a modified Linux kernel with some apps on top.

    Still, Xerox were responsible for the start of the FSF, GPL and GNU. (They refused RMS the source for their printer drivers causing him to consider the implications and safe guard against them).

  • First off, Kinko's employees aren't all bad. It depends on the Kinko's you go to. (Sorry, I'm an ex-Kinkoid and that really bugged me.).

    I agree that its a bad idea to put NT on those sorts of machines, but at the same time, Xerox had some pretty crappy Unix interfaces, especially for their more recent products. The DocuTechs were ok, although the software is in need of a major update and most of the older ones are underpowered. But before I left Kinko's we beta-tested a digital spot-color machine that ran off a Sparc. It had quite possibly the worst UI I have ever seen on a copier. When you started up the thing I came up in X after a login, but all the commands were input from xterm. No one wants to use a command line to run a copier (although I could be wrong - lots of /.ers are masochists). They just want to click some buttons and make copies. Xerox should have simply improved their interfaces, not changed OS's.

  • Gotta disagree. I haven't tried the SGI's but Fiery's almost always work. The only problem I've ever had with Fiery's is that some of them choke when your PostScript gets over about 100-150MB. Its the copiers/printers they're attached to that tend to go. I used a FieryXJ for about a year in a heavy use environment and only once ever had a problem with the Fiery itself.

  • Begin unsolicited advice
    Don't buy a DocuColor unless you absolutely have to. They suck. The color isn't that good and they break CONSTANTLY, especially under heavy use. Get a Canon. The color's better, registration is just as good, and they don't break as often.

  • Often, it's well before any agreement is signed, but when working with monopolistic or near-monopolistic entities, there aren't a lot of options. :(

    Take for example the exorbitant fees we pay to Xerox in the way of maintenance. Our market is small enough that Xerox has no competition when it comes to servicing and repairing their equipment, so we're forced to go through them. Fortunately, that issue is slowly changing as more and more people around here get DocuTechs.


  • by 23skiddoo ( 31460 ) <worthog.edwardsbrewing@com> on Sunday May 16, 1999 @06:10PM (#1890057)
    Yeah, I remember attending some classes for Xerox software (VIPP) at their local offices. One of their drones was rubbing his hands with glee that pretty soon "everyone will be running NT--it's where computing is going." Another person swayed by what is essentially a pretty interface sitting atop an OS that is trying to reinvent the wheel.
    We currently use 2 DocuTech 6135s for the digital printing side of our printing/fulfillment business. They are both driven by Ultra SPARC boxes running Solaris, so setting up automated tasks with my Linux Internet server and workstation has been frighteningly easy. And they've been (for the most part) terrific machines.
    I am worried now that if and when we get a DocuColor or other high-speed printer from Xerox, we will be forced to use shoddy Winblows software--just like we were when we updated the document assembly facet of the operation. (Get this: we bought our own PC ($3K) for their XDOD document assembly software/system instead of buying their Compaq box ($10K). Now, if there's a problem on that machine, the techs will 90% of the time blame it on "incompatible hardware" and refuse to support it. Also, it runs NT and when I wanted to add a CD-burner for backing up jobs I had to install the latest service pack (3). Well, when I asked Xerox if this might be an issue, they said that their software wasn't tested enough on SR3 and that if we ran into problems later, they might have us revert to SR1! Aaargh!)
    What really bothers me is that we may eventually have to sell our souls and adopt more and more Windoze applications because either that is what our customers expect or because we can't find the apps we need on *nix. (As another aside, we just recently visited a software company in Connecticut that makes a pretty good warehouse/fulfillment system that is currently available on SCO or NT, but their next major release will be NT only. Our plan is to get the SCO version now (partly because we have a SCO box with plenty of room already), but what about the future? We could migrate to NT in a few years, but dammit, I want more options!)

    I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I don't want to live in Bill's version of the world, but it seems like our options are narrowing, in spite of the open source/free software movement. I guess we're in an interim period where business-ready open source apps are still being developed.

  • I wonder how long it will be before we see a Mindcruft study showing
    how the new Xerox products are 5 times faster than HP's?

    But this is just what every office needs... not only do their
    computers crash once a day, now thier other office equipment does too!
    The wonders of a homogenous office.

    I wonder... is Xerox going to start telling people that thier stuff is
    now easier to use? "You don't need a real technician any more, any
    idiiot can administer your new printer."

    Hmm.. I think that about sums up all of the MS slams.. (at least all
    the ones I can think of..)
  • Think about that: what woulld really be more expensive? Would it be the port to NT, or the effort spent to make their Unix solution less intimidating

    You are correct about that. I was off topic a bit, just ranting on about M$ slams, we all know they suck, but do we have to read it over and over and over again. I have to sort through hundreds of messages to find a few that actually have been thought though and are not just random M$ slamming. (This does not hold true for all threads)

    But which would be more attractive to an IS manager, an NT solution for the bloated network that is his job security, or a well running Unix solution. I work tech support and project management, if the systems in my dept. were reliable half of my crew would be out of jobs. CCCorprate America doesn't want working solutions they want job security and NT provides that really well. (Only non-mission critical servers run NT where I work, all desktops are M$)
    ________________________________________________ ________
    Can We trust the future - Flesh99
  • You know as much M$ slamming as goes on here, most end users never see the kinds of problems we as techs do. This is because they don't put their machines throught the rigorus workouts we do, they just write e-mail, read e-mail, play games, and d/l porn. I hate to point this out but M$ products are still easier to use then *nix products.

    Most big companies would rather pay techs than have to train users to use *nix. Get over it, all Linux OS distros are free and the public (read: the average user) can't get them to install right. Besdies the severe lack of hardware support, X claims to support my Diamond Speedstar A50, but it has 8 megs of RAM and X will only see 1 meg. Until *nix can catch up in the harware support division ppl will buy M$. Xerox made a damn good descion for now, partnering with M$ will boost profits, up the stock price, and get them into offices they couldn't get into before. If they want to make more money then they made the right desicion, think about it their copiers are already there, the salesman walks in and says you already have NT servers and Xerox copiers, how about we tie them both together. Managers are going to go ape-sh*t. As for being smart technology wise, we all know the answer to that one; NO ! But Xerox is interested in what most companies are interested in, the Allmighty Dollar. Anyone ever wonder why RedHat is the most used distro in the consumer market, because THEY SELL IT. People still believe the ols addage " You get what you pay for ". People want M$, if you want to force them to use something else then you are no worse than Bill.

    Face it we love Linux but it is nowhere near ready for the concumer market, people don't want to customize their interface, they don't want to have to decide on a windows manager, and they don't want to have to mount/unmount a CD drive every time they want to chage a CD. Linux is great for certain things (tech geeks are one of those things), but for the average consumer M$ or Mac OS is better. I hope the Linux will soon be user friednly. My dad asked me a question the other day, maybe someone out there can answer because I sure as hell couldn't "Pretend for a moment I am new computer user, tell me why I should run Linux"
    __________________________________________ ______________
    Can We trust the future - Flesh99
  • Hee hee... Excellent. You win my chuckle for the day. That's almost as good as the Microsoft Vacuum 1.0 post a few months back: "The only Microsoft product that doesn't suck."
  • Um, you'll still be able to send jobs to it from a Unix box, NT speaks LPR...
  • They do indeed. I know one of their engineer guys and he has told me so. They even use to run their high-end super-duper digital copiers. You really have to wonder why in the world they would switch. The users never see the operating system as it is, and Xerox copiers tend to be reliable. What benefit do they get by running NT, which, even if it was reliable, costs money and does not even make an attempt at being an embedded system?
  • WRONG!!!! Lynx != Linux. Sorry, but I too got excited when I cracked the top on an old DCS35 and saw Lynx, and though hmmm. I work in Xerox support for these products. However, splash are building their colour rips (M series) running slackware linux. These puppies fly as colour servers and do drive Xerox colour copiers.
  • There aren't any techincal details in this pre-release press release. But it sounds like they will incorporate win-only drivers in Xerox's new network multi-machines that do copy/print/scan.

    So if you have a large corporate environment, where there are all types of machines, from macintoshes to unixes to mainframes, you will have to go to a win box to use these new machines.

    I have a feeling that Xerox is shooting themselves in the head again, probably the decision of a very myopic PHB veep. If I were to be presented with one of these by a Xerox sales slime, and I asked if I could control it from a variety of machines like Macs and Unixes, and the answer was NO, then there would be no sale.

    I wonder what kind of an offer they made to the veep who agreed to this stupid decision. Probably typical microso~1 hi-pressure sales tactics which the DOJ would be interested in.

    the AntiCypher
  • I worked at Xerox for a while, some years back, and I remember when they made a similar deal with
    Microsoft, that time it was for the license to
    "Microsoft At Work", which was supposed to be some
    sort of windows related embdedded OS for office devices.

    Xerox paid Microsoft $1 million, and then proceeded to get the shaft when Microsoft pulled the plug on the whole thing a year later. Oh yes, as a consolation
    prize, Xerox got the source code for the
    discontinued project - a
    a pile of buggy unfinished and poorly written code.

    I wonder if Microsoft will do the same thing again this time.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.