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back to article Expert chat: The end of Windows XP and IE6

In six months' time, it'll be open season for hackers, malware and virus-writers targeting people running Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6. The reason is after 8 April, 2014, Microsoft will no longer make the software patches needed to protect these people from the worst of the web. From the biggest to the smallest, nobody is …

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Anonymous Coward

Time to investigate the alternatives

For small organisations and those not tied to Windows specific apps, now is the time to trial a Linux distro.

Users are more used to non Microsoft software these days (mobiles & tablets).

Plus, you should be able to use your existing XP hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives @AC 10:45

Yawn ... do you get points for each conversion or something? Or if/when someone converts and likes it, are you just waiting to point out how you've been running it for years, because you're soooo tech-savvy?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

"now is the time to trial a Linux distro."

Just LOL. Linux sucks on the desktop - especially for small organisations where the required expert knowledge does not exist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

Linux sucks on the desktop - especially for small organisations where the required expert knowledge does not exist.

Your second point has some merit, shame you ruined it with your first unsubstantiated one.

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Bronze badge

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

The problem is that small organisations don't have the time / staff to do the sort of testing that would be required - there's seldom any kind of IT strategy at all.

It's a shame as many would probably find that Linux or another non-Windows option would fit their needs.

Once you get big enough that this sort of trial is feasible you have more apps to deal with and more likelihood of some sort of MS lock-in, even if it is just Active Directory, as well as having more staff that would need some sort of training to cope with the change.

It looks more likely to me that non-Windows tablets will gain traction than non-Windows desktops.

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Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

"For small organisations and those not tied to Windows specific apps" - Good luck finding one of those! For example, a typical small UK accountancy firm will be using Sage, CCH, IRIS, QuickBooks and none of these vendors have a Linux app.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

Why bother? Windows was only ever any good as a Steam boot loader. And the Linux version of that is rapidly maturing.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

> especially for small organisations where the required expert knowledge does not exist.

There, I fixed that for you. If all you want is windows level of functionality, Linux is no more difficult to administer than Windows. Especially if you use one of the teletubby distributions like the many poobuntu variants.

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Mushroom

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

"Just LOL. Windows sucks on the desktop - especially for small organisations where the required expert knowledge does not exist."

FTFY

Once you have Linux configured it "just works", exactly like MS Windows. "Small organizations" usually don't have anyone who can do basic Windows configuration, never mind a full blown reinstall. Hells, at work I've had to do remotes and onsites at small businesses just to install printer drivers and plug the USB cable into the printer because no one there had a F'ng clue how to do it.

Based on my experience, 20+ years with MS and another 15+ with UNIX/Linux, the biggest problem the common SB user faces is getting the system plugged in and the printers/network/ect. installed and configured. Once that is done they don't give a rat's arse what OS they are using as long as it does what they need it to do.

The two biggest things holding Linux back is the lack of specialized apps like financial management packages/etc., and the misconception, perpetuated by comments like yours, that you have to be some kind of "Uber Geek" to even use Linux.

And as an aside; Linux is easier to install than Windows and has better driver support for hardware during the setup and best of all; no "activation" BS.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

"If all you want is windows level of functionality, Linux is no more difficult to administer than Windows"

That's simply not true. Linux is far more confusing and difficult to administer than Windows if you need to do anything outside of a GUI....

Not to mention that the latest Windows performs better than the latest Linux (Ubuntu anyway)....

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Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

Make no mistake, I'm no Microsoft fan, but I'm realistic. Precious few of our small business customers could run on a linux desktop. Most of them use Sage or some such. And driver support isn't better on linux when you're comparing it to Windows 8.

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Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

"Linux sucks on the desktop..."

Yep - it does. Just not nearly as much as Windows or OSX.

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MJA

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

I'm sure nobody would doubt the ability of Linux to perform for a small org just as well or better than Windows but as others have mentioned - you need somebody with a bit of knowledge or enthusiasm for Linux, which is unlikely in a small organisation that probably don't have their own IT staff to A. suggest the idea or B. assist them with the inevitable problems such as when their old scanner that gets used once a year suddenly doesn't work.

That said, most non specialised organisations would probably have the same issues with Mac and OSX but I'm sure staff would jump at the idea of having flashy iMacs on their desks. Cool always outweighs Function. Normal is always the solution. Unfortunately Linux falls under the Function category and Windows is the 'Normal'

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Boffin

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

Meh. At least two minimart chains have switched to Linux; I noticed it because the cash register GUI has a GNOME/GTK+ look & feel. It can be done, it just depends on how much time the company has to do the switch, and how much will they save by doing something like that.

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Outside a GUI

Well, that's hardly a fair comparison, is it? Try doing *anything* outside a GUI with vanilla recent Windows versions. There isn't an outside for you to visit. There's an emulator pretending to be a 1980's DOS session, and that's it. Every Linux distribution I've ever used supports a terminal emulator in the GUI, and the massive advantage is that you can give people exact and precise instructions to fix a problem, without having all this "click on the little yellow square to the right of the left pane on the right side" nonsense.

If you really want to fiddle with the insides of a Windows 7 install (I have no experience of 8, so won't assume anything) you have to get down and dirty with registry hacks, with downloading special uninstallers for bits that don't work, with worrying about which updates have been applied; it's a nightmare. When "it just works", that's fine. When a KDE/GNU/Linux distribution "just works", it's fine, but in my experience fixing the latter when something is wrong is MUCH easier. There are meaningful log files, masses of documentation, and a high standard of user support. This is not the case with Windows, where there is masses of advice, certainly, but only from people who have made something work and have no idea why. A relative's Win7 machine has resolutely failed to install a service pack for more than a year, now. Some voodoo about a corrupted language pack, or something, is the best I can infer. Nothing works, everyone advises "why don't you reinstall?" Whereas I've got a Linux distribution here that installed onto an empty machine in twenty minutes flat, and would certainly just go on functioning in any small business setting where people need a PC to work and don't fiddle with computers. It hasn't been switched off for almost two years, and only gets rebooted when there is a kernel upgrade. Then it cycles in about 100 seconds.

I'm bored with this "Linux sucks on the desktop" reflux. Evidence clearly shows it just doesn't. I suspect it's regurgitated often by people who haven't tried it, and are frightened of doing so.

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Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

How do you know they weren't running GhostBSD?

GTK runs on kernels other than Linux, you know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

But do they have a Win7 version ?

One previous employer had a box running some specialist software which just doesn't exist under Win7. The vendor disappeared years ago, and nobody has released anything new.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Time to investigate the alternatives

Don't any of these work via Wine?

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IE 6

I had a call today from a friend who is a bit of a technophobe.

At home he has two machines, each running XP and IE6, IE6 that will not update as XP is the O/S.

("but I've always used Internet Explorer!")

I've already set up FFox and Chrome with bookmarks and tabs that point to Hotmail but he insists on calling IE his 'search engine' which today wasn't playing ball.

Monday I will go round and hammer a sign to his screen saying 'FFS NOT IE!' and hide the bloody thing.

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Re: IE 6

If you go to Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Set Program Access and Defaults, you can untick "Enable access to this program" beside Internet Explorer

Just set a shortcut to Chrome on the desktop and start menu, change the icon to the blue "e" logo, and he'll never know any different.

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Thumb Up

Re: IE 6

Yes he will, he'll notice that everything is faster and renders correctly...

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Dr?

Re: IE 6

You can install up to and including IE 8 on a copy of XP. And Chrome is about the worst choice for a low powered PC as it eats every last available megabyte of RAM on your machine.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: IE 6

"Yes he will, he'll notice that everything is faster and renders correctly..."

And that he has far more security vulnerability patches to install with Chrome....

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Re: IE 6

You can install IE7 or IE8 on XP, you know. They may not be your browsers of choice, but they're a lot better than IE6, and if your friend really likes IE why not indulge him? Don't drag him out of his comfort zone just because of your personal preferences.

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Facepalm

Re: IE6 that will not update as XP is the O/S.

Wait, what? And you're providing support on these things?

GJC

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Re: And that he has far more security vulnerability patches to install with Chrome...

It does them itself.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: IE 6

Windows update doesn't work with IE6, you need to update it to IE8 manually, then Windows updates will work normally. Hit this same thing during a reinstall on a laptop last month.

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JDX
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Re: IE 6

"I had a call today from a friend who is a bit of a technophobe.

At home he has two machines, each running XP and IE6, IE6 that will not update as XP is the O/S."

So firstly he's the technophobe, but you don't even know you can upgrade to IE8 on Windows XP.

Secondly, he's running WindowsXP, and your solution is to install FireFox/Chrome? Never mind the OS?

Are you sure you're a friend?

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Re: IE 6

This is a recurring problem I see.

"what internet program do you use to access the internet?"

"er... is it google?"

"who is your internet provider?"

"er... is it google?"

"who do you actually pay monthly for internet access?"

"er... is it vodafone?"

"do you use google chrome or internet explorer?"

"what's internet explorer?"

"it's the one with the 'e'"

"oh in that case I use BT"

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Re: IE 6

Have you been listening to my incoming calls?!

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Windows

Re: IE 6

"Yes he will, he'll notice that everything is faster and renders correctly..."

But he'll think it's because somebody fixed the Iddernet.

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Re: IE 6

...

"oh in that case I use BT"

And that is exactly why it is very likely that Linux will never be a big player in the desktop market when compared to Windows - the vast majority of people just want to take their new PC home, plug it in and go, and at the current time it's the people with the money - ie Microsoft - that control what gets loaded onto those PCs before they get bought, taken home, plugged in, etc...

Of course, there are other factors. I'll admit that I don't use Linux myself, mainly because I have too many bad memories of weeks of wasted time trying to get drivers etc all working. Yes, I know this was many years ago, but I'm a cynic, and it's probably going to take seeing a number of trouble-free installs to the point where I know I can be productive before I think about switching.

... and also, the number of self-righteous vocal zealots in the community who spout bile about anything that isn't Linux with no basis for their argument apart from "it's not Linux" and belittle anyone who can't recite the entire kernel source code from memory (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little) are quite off-putting too...

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Re: IE 6

Buy a Linux magazine. Use live DVD of some distro that will be stuck to the front. Done. If it doesn't work properly don't use it. Couldn't be easier really.

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Chrome with little Ram - not great

>And Chrome is about the worst choice for a low powered PC as it eats every last available megabyte of RAM on your machine.

Agreed, one company I help has lots of low powered XP machines (just for data entry, really), usually with 512 MB RAM. Chrome is hopeless, but opera isn't too bad.

Most of the staff don't use anything beyond a spreadsheet and a web browser, so migrating them to a Linux distro should be fairly straightforward.

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Re: IE 6

"Buy a Linux magazine. Use live DVD of some distro that will be stuck to the front. Done. If it doesn't work properly don't use it. Couldn't be easier really."

Means wiping my laptop, putting on said distro, hoping it works and probably being stuck with a bricked machine if it doesn't - and given my track record and experience, it won't work, and neither will the recovery process.

... unless someone has a spare game developer-specced laptop they're willing to give up and donate for me to play with. But right now, I'm not prepared to risk my working production machine and environment to see if things have improved.

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FAIL

Re: IE 6

You missed the "live" part - you don't have to install it, just boot it from the live DVD, and if it doesn't work properly, you don't HAVE to install it.

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Facepalm

Re: IE 6

Indeed - *LIVE* DVDs have been a mainstay of Linux distros for awhile now. You're doing it wrong if you're formatting your hard drive.

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Re: IE 6

Maybe he should try another distro since he's doing it wrong, the stupid noob. RTFM!

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Re: IE 6

... and also, the number of self-righteous vocal zealots in the community who spout bile about anything that isn't Linux with no basis for their argument apart from "it's not Linux" and belittle anyone who can't recite the entire kernel source code from memory (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating a little) are quite off-putting too...

Total FUD. I've only started to get into Linux about two years ago, and only seriously started to use it as my main OS within the last year, but at all points I've found all the people more knowledgeable than me to be thoroughly helpful. The wealth of people out there prepared to give their time to help new users for free is overwhelming and it's a community I'm proud to have become a part of. In my experience, the myth of the bile spouting newb-bashing Linux ubergeek is exactly that - a myth. What's more, stop pontificating on how complicated it might be, just give it a go. It's was actually extraordinarily easy - and this is coming from someone who had never in his life even partitioned a hard drive before.

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FAIL

Re: IE 6

RTFM in this case is a sentence. Troll fail.

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We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

Dump the wallpaper and change to the high contrast icons. And relax.

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Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

"We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

Dump the wallpaper and change to the high contrast icons. And relax."

...until you want to print something over the network!

>:-0

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Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

$Nial what's you point. I have far fewer problems getting a networked printer working under Linux than I have with Windows. It just finds them and their drivers within a few seconds and I'm running.

While Windows keeps wanting the 'manufacturer disks' smh.

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Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

..until you want to print something over the network!??

i've had linux mint printing over a network from day 1.

Not sure what your prejudice is, ...

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Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

I had a network printer. Took freakin' ages getting the damn thing to play with windows. Laptop running Mint hooked up no problem.

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Devil

Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

But that's unpossible! Every fool knows that you have to write in Sankrit just to boot a Linux machine! It can't possibly be better than Windows at makig things easy because as we all know Windows makes everything so easy no one has ever had any problems with it!

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Re: We are switching to Linux Mint XFCE

Setting up network printing was a doddle. A few clicks and it was done. No finding drivers, no messing about.

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Why can't I register for this?

All I see is an email reminder form - where can I register for it? Or is the email reminder the registration too?

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Re: Why can't I register for this?

You don't really need to register, just add your email and it'll give you a reminder.

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