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back to article Microsoft founder Paul Allen's money man wants Redmond to break up

The man in charge of Microsoft founder Paul Allen's investment vehicle has suggested Microsoft should be broken up. Allen left Microsoft in 1982 after an illness, but retained a huge parcel of shares and still owns a couple of billion worth of Microsoft stock. That stake is managed by Vulcan Capital, whose chief investment …

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Anonymous Coward

A company that loses the consumer and ends up being an expensive business only player will eventually fail.

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Anonymous Coward

IBM demonstrated that business services and back end hardware, while killing off all consumer tech can result in a thriving business.

What I suspect is really the case is that businesses who do R&D thrive. All these people circling round MS, saying they should split up, will be the first to kill off R&D and that would be the death of MS.

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Anonymous Coward

What, Microsoft does R&D? R&D is not copying what others do mind you.

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Anonymous Coward

And what will replace them on enterprise level?

Linux has nether consumers nor businesses

Apple? Not the certified-reseller kind of shop that would go after governments and huge corps

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R&D and the Aquaduct

@AC 00:05 What have the Romans ever given us?

While the Romans probably didn't invent the aquaduct, they certainly made huge advances in making its benefits easily available to lots of people.

Sort of how MS took a bunch of Unix technologies as made them available in a ready-to-roll form as Active Directory. Before that it was their acquisitioon of MS-DOS.

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@AC 23:03 - "A company that loses the consumer and ends up being an expensive business only player will eventually fail."

Blackberry could tell you a thing or two about that.

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> A company that loses the consumer and ends up being an expensive business only player will eventually fail.

I am sure that SAP and Oracle, among many others, are glad they retained their consumer business.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

"Before that it was their acquisitioon of MS-DOS."

An "acquisitioon" is not R&D!

"Sort of how MS took a bunch of Unix technologies as made them available in a ready-to-roll form as Active Directory."

Actually Active Directory was based off of Novell Directory Services. Sure it is based off of x.500 which was releases several years prior. NDS had an issue upon release and Novell offered a workaround before an actual fix was released. Microsoft releases AD and surprise surprise, it had the same flaw and Microsoft offered the same workaround. Microsoft vowed an actual fix but never did and instead waited until a later release of Windows to actually fix it.

So, both of your examples actually just proved my prior statement that copying others is not R&D. The fact is, Microsoft has done very little innovation. Vista was suppose to have a lot of features found in other OS's available at the time. The schedule for Vista kept being pushed further back until Microsoft pulled the plug on a lot of those features. Vista also saw features available in XP removed only to be added back in with Windows 7. Vista had a 5 1/2 year development process but was an incomplete OS compared to XP and Windows 7.

Microsoft has a cash cow of products and they are just riding that wave. Many companies have been in that position in the past and they all came crashing down at some point.

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SVV

Not sure what type of Enterprise Level you are referring to

Erm, lots of Enterprise level software runs on Linux (and commercial Unix OSes) within businesses.

Linux is extremely well established in the Enterprise, certainly in the financial sector.

Running large volume web based systems on Windows is pretty much non existent at the high end of this industry. You sound like you would be quite surprised how much of a consumer you actually are of Linux based systems when you use the web.

To be fair, all desktop PCs within businesses use Windows for everyday user applications, but I think you're ignoring the backend systems which power the real mission critical stuff a little too much.

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LDS
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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

Thereby being Linux just a copy of Unix you mean Linux is no R&D at all?

Sometimes reinventing the wheel is not the way to go, sometimes it is. Microsoft does R&D, copies and acquisitions as any other company. Where do you believe the multitouch technology which made Apple mobile device successful? From internal R&D? Nope, it was an acquisition (Fingerworks). What is Android built on? A copy of Java, and Apache Harmony. Lots of internal R&D here too.... Research: "free java library" -> "I'm feeling lucky".

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You have no idea

Microsoft does huge amounts of R&D outside of what you would even vaguely expect. A friend is doing for example biological computing research with them but they hire huge numbers of PhDs globally.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

MS May have purchased the QDOS poduct, but it was barely functional and certainly needed a very large amount of bug fixes and development before it was released. It was then IIRC totally re-written from the ground up for the next major release.

You seem to imply that because a product is based around something that it somehow needs no development or research? AD didn't just magic into existence and certainly uses technologies which aren't available to Novell or x.500 users.

MS do a large amount of R&D for the sake of doing R&D, you'll see articles fairly regularly on The Reg about things such as their no-glasses 3d screens, and various other flashy stuff. Try doing a few internet searches for "Microsoft Research" and see what you find, it's pretty interesting.

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@Andy Prough

To put it another way, Blackberry could tell you a thing or two about being an expensive business only player that came unstuck through the hubris of becoming a consumer brand (temporarily).

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

R&D ?

My favourite example of Windows since 3.1, was stacking Glasses on bar for "layer" of OS, about win98se I had to change to paper cups, it was unstable ...

Windows was always a single user system, adapted/Updated/Modified to work with WWW, that why its drowning in viruses, and Java ...

Bill jumped ship, now rats fight for scraps, before it goes down ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

@JamesTQuirk - Thankyou for demonstrating that you know nothing about modern Windows. The NT/2k/XP series of OSes have absolutely nothing to do with the 3.1/95/98 series. The NT OS is multi user from the ground up.

Also, Bill hardly jumped ships, what with him being the Chairman of the board of Microsoft.

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

@ Anonymous Coward (Windows Certified Thingy ?), r u somebody who paid microsoft a wad of cash to be shown how to actually use & organise, their easy to use software ...?

Your so right, being using using Debian since about 94, I saw writing on wall, for me, Windows gets buried under a linux install, ALWAYS .. So yes "modern" Windows has no value for me, I met it's ancestors ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not sure what type of Enterprise Level you are referring to

>>>To be fair, all desktop PCs within businesses use Windows for everyday user applications,

Nuff said. And it will stay this way regardless of your pathetic down voting.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

Why bother commenting on comment threads about Windows when you by your own admission have no knowledge of the OS?

I've been using Linux since about 1995, I've also been using Windows since 3.1 and DOS from way before then. I know for certain that I wouldn't compare Linux from 1995 to Linux today, so why would you think that Windows is just the same?

How do you even know that Windows has no value to you, if you don't know enough about it to know that it's not a single user system?

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

Yeah Windows 8 will be a problem, soon as they stop bundling laptops with them, before I buy a new one, but I will find a copy in Junk pile soon ...

I have multible copies of XP, Win7 here, I seen them, fix them & I charge Windows types heaps for it, de-virus/trojan etc regularly, for others that use windows, how people can use that enviroment bewilders me, I know old Legacy, but name says it all software Business is to tight to replace, well sorry I prodded your fragile windows ego's but it sucks, it sucked 20, 10 5, years ago & yesterday as far as I am Concerned ...

I have knowledge of Window "nt" or greater, but it tells me to avoid it .....

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LDS
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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

There were no pubic releases of Debian in 1994:

http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/project-history/ch-detailed.en.html#s4.1

Were you on the development team?

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MSFT has a very successful business suite called Office, that is used by BOTH businesses and consumers.

If MSFT spun off the "consumer" businesses, what happens to Office?

MSFT has the opportunity to LEVERAGE the success of Office to gain market share in mobile.

The POTENTIAL gains in mobile from leveraging the ownership of Office are immense.

It is short sighted of Vulcan to call for the split up of MSFT at this time, in my opinion.

Their is a powerful synergy between consumer and business, based upon the OFFICE suite.

In the future, almost everything will be accessed from the cloud.

But, who's cloud?

MSFT has the ability to become one of the top cloud destinations, which will become the key to future profitability.

The OFFICE suite, SKYPE, and gaming content will be key attractions for choosing MSFT's cloud over the competition.

Business people are also "consumers". The trend is NOT to carry 2 phones, 2 mobile computers

Most Business people want ONE mobile device from each category, that can handle ALL of their needs.

Bottom line, there are significant synergies gained by being both a business supplier, and a consumer supplier.

Just look at Blackberry...Their business offerings are suffering, because people do not want to carry around 2 devices...

If you are multi billionaire, or the manager of $15 billion, you can have an assistant who follows you around carrying all your various different devices... could it be that these super rich people do not understand how most people operate, in the real world?

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

> The NT OS is multi user from the ground up.

That is simply not true. Originally Cutler intended the new NT to be multiuser but Gates had this removed because he wanted to sell a machine to each user and not one copy of Windows for several users.

Later, Citrix (started by Ed Iacobucci of OS/2 fame), added actual multiuser facilities to NT 3.51 by licencing the NT source code. When NT 4 was released MS refused to release the source code to this until Citrix cross licenced their multiuser code and communications protocols back to MS (for free?) so that MS could build TSE.

While NT may have serial reuse with different logins, it is not (apart from Terminal Services) actual multi user (ie multi concurrent users).

Even with Citrix or TSE there are several nasty hacks needed because there is no real separation between the users on one machine.

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

> MS May have purchased the QDOS poduct, but it was barely functional and certainly needed a very large amount of bug fixes and development before it was released.

When MS bought DOS from SCP it was _already_ being distributed as SCP-DOS (or 86-DOS) and was sold with SCP's Zebra 8086 S100 boxes.

Certainly it was modified to use MS's FAT file system rather than the CP/M cloned file system.

> It was then IIRC totally re-written from the ground up for the next major release.

It was rewritten by IBM when Gary Kildall demonstrated PC-DOS 1.0 showing a DRI copyright notice that was buried deeply in the code. Both MS and SCP were CP/M OEMs. SCP with their Zebra 8 bit systems and MS with the Z80 Softcard. It has been alleged that SCP decompiled the CP/M BDOS (there were commented decompilers available at that time - see Byte magazine ads) and put the code through Intel's 8-16 bit ASM converter (also available) to arrive at the initial QDOS.

After IBM rewrote PC-DOS as 1.1 it was passed back to MS to create MS-DOS 1.25.

It was rewritten again to make 2.x and to include hard disk support (which had been available for several years on CP/M).

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IBM is cleaning up by focusing on business and of course computer research.

The consumer end is either really gadget or games. Throw in a little search and help and you are there. Samsung came from no where, just like Apple did, just like Sony did, just like the next fad manufacturer will. That's the problem with the consumer market, your time in the sun always comes to an end. So target IBM business and research, not so much the competitor to beat, the whole of that market is that but the competitor to align with. Security is also floating around but thanks to the NSA that is going to end up a one country at a time market, nobody will trust anyone going forward (the fiscal harm the NSA has done to US business is staggering, trillions of dollars will go begging).

So MSN, XBox(gaming division), Bing(back to MSN Search),whole bunch of cash for restructuring and to keep share value up, basically creating MSN consumer products.

Everything else stays with M$. Add in clearing out deadwood, for both divisions and M$ will be able to trim right down and clean up.

While MSN will charge right at Apple and Google, two targets with big revenue to sink their teeth into (Focus is all MSN needs).

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Re: R&D and the Aquaduct

It was a guess, I was too busy to write it down, and there was no artifical EGO , like twitter, facebook, things that teenagers use these days, and not sure, did you look at 68K dev, as I said I first installed on Amiga 2000, but if it was 19 years ago, who cares, windows is still a limp dick ...

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Linux

Re: Not sure what type of Enterprise Level you are referring to

To be fair...... MOST desktop PCs within businesses (CURRENTLY) use Windows.

We all know Linux runs the back office, but it is increasingly appearing on the desktop as well.

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@Ken Luskin

Please put down the Kool-Aid. You sound almost as bad as the Fanbois.

Open Office/Office Libre killed the Office Synergy. Sure I use Office at work, never at home. I don't want to be stuck on the upgrade treadmill for an occasional use product. In fact, were it not for the Windows Monopoly there would be no Office Monopoly for MS today. WordPerfect was a far superior product, even when Office was the only working GUI for Windows 95A. Of course back in those days a full copy of WordPerfect set me back $495. Upgrades were more affordable of course. MS cut their money supply by selling competitive upgrade copies for $99. WordPerfect tried the same thing, but without the cash flow from a monopoly OS, it didn't help. Although I did know people who owned copies of both during that time because once you had one the other was only $100 more. One enterprising co-worker even managed to bag both of them for only $200.

We're moving toward platform agnosticism not platform dependencies. Best of breed not monopoly lock-in.

I'm not sure if they are better off as one company or better off split apart. Maybe they can get synergies. Maybe forcing everything into the same mold is what is holding them back. I'm sure as hell in the camp that thinks that's how they screwed up Windows 8. But I'm willing to concede they might be able to maintain a root code base that is similar for devices. Linux certainly does even when it gets specialized for an appliance as dedicated as a car gps.

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"bin for Bing"

Just remove the g. Sorted.

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Re: "bin for Bing"

I've always liked Bing, but until recently it did not have a good option for sorting search results by date, like Google. Now, at least Bing has introduced the ability to search for the past day, week and month, so I'm finding it more useful. They need to add the ability to sort search results by year, and by custom date, like Google.

Bing's image and video search features are already quite superior to Google from my perspective, and their maps are very good, although the maps don't yet offer auto-complete like Google's maps.

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Facepalm

Re: "bin for Bing"

Mind you, it could mean they develop a search engine of their own instead of merely throwing up a script kiddie wrapper round a real one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "bin for Bing"

@Bob - We've been through this before countless times:

What happened was a google engineer, found a way to game the Bing toolbar (which watches your visited URLs and returns them to MS) so that when he visited a page which was present only on a malformed google search. The bing toolbar picked up the url from the browser and sent it back to MS, the systems at MS basically said "we've not seen this URL before, let's include it in bing."

You repeat this claim again and again, you are corrected again and again but still do it. This is an entirely dishonest way to behave.

http://searchengineland.com/bing-why-googles-wrong-in-its-accusations-63279

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Re: "bin for Bing"

@AC 9:19 - I think Bob is a script kiddie, and one of said scripts is to trawl forums for the word "Bing" and chuck that post in whenever a hit is scored...

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Linux

Re: "bin for Bing"

I do believe the microsoft shills round here are following a script. Why just last week when the painful reminder of Uncle Festers "Linux is a cancer" rant came up, they all piped up right on cue, with some pathetic argument about it all being in the past so it doesn't count - similar to this Bing copies Google one, in fact. Well the article on Googles official blog hasn't changed in the almost 3 years since it was written so I'd say it's as much a certainty as it is hilarious watching the apologists try to squirm out of it each time it's brought up.

Which it will be again, I'd warrant.

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Re: "bin for Bing"

How much money has been spaffed on Bing and its predecessors? It's certainly many billions. Was it the best use of the money? No.

Certainly if I had Microsoft shares, I would have been going 'Sell it' for years.

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Good Idea!

But they will need two windows divisions to develop two separate versions of Windows.

Windows for Work (based on 7) and Windows for Toys (8+), and let's drop the waste of space 32-bit versions while we're at it.

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Re: Good Idea!

"let's drop the waste of space 32-bit versions"

What, you mean the only version that can run legacy 16-bit software that a few businesses actually need?

Oh well, they might as well let those companies invest in dosemu on Linux to get continued support.

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Re: Good Idea!

I run Windows 7 Pro' 64-bit. It has a 32-bit Windows XP VM to run all that stuff, no further development required.

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Re: Good Idea!

It's people like you that bring computers to their knees for no good reason and then insist more money must be spent.

Need to run a 30Kb DOS executable? No problem, that just means pissing away 256Mb memory and 10Gb disk space on an XP VM...

Oh, and that still doesn't work quite right because it's now on a separate VM rather than alongside everything else it needs...

Round here you'd be told where to go in no short order.

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Re: Good Idea!

I can't speak for your desktop PC, but mine is Core i7 3770 water cooled, 32GB fast RAM, SSD boot drive and 5TB secondary storage, plus a decent GPU.

I build a PC for my business to last 5 years, 7 with luck because unlike most businesses I have dealt with, I know that 'best value' is not the same as 'least cost'. Whether you're a serious home user or you make your livelihood with your PC, it should be money well spent, not a question of 'how much'.

https://secure.flickr.com/photos/haizo_baum/sets/72157633423490011/

So, No, using the resources available is NOT pissing them away and I won't even feel such a flea-bite.

If you can't get all the resources you need into one XP VM, maybe you need someone to build you an appliance under VMware, that works fine for me too.

I've been in places where they relied on old programs because they were too tight to get a replacement written. I have warned managers of the need to migrate from DOS and 16-bit applications for safety and maintainability too - until I gave it away as a waste of time in 2004!

In my opinion, it is those managers who put their companies at such risk that should be fired, pronto.

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Re: Good Idea!

I've been in places where they relied on old programs because they were too tight to get a replacement written. I have warned managers of the need to migrate from DOS and 16-bit applications for safety and maintainability too - until I gave it away as a waste of time in 2004!

In my opinion, it is those managers who put their companies at such risk that should be fired, pronto.

In that case it's simple: we'd never hire you.

As a slightly different but essentially identical example: I work at a university where we have a telescope mount controlled from an old XENIX app. We were able to upgrade that to Openserver 5 but even that is 15 years old now. Anything more recent via XENIX emulation simply doesn't work since it needs semi-direct hardware access via ioctls. Cost of an new and equivalent mount? £130,000. Are you offering to stump up?

That's still small fry: for example Royal Mail have hundreds of millions tied up in Integrated Mail Processors. There's a fancy front end on some of the newer machines but underneath it all they are still DOS based. Are they supposed to scrap that investment on your whim too?

Remember, you haven't qualified your statement in any way so you are either ignorant of reality or chequebook happy. There are plenty of apps out there tied to one specific platform or other for any number of reasons. Simply wishing them away doesn't work.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good Idea!

Unless your business is CAD or similar, I suggest you get real. For the money you wasted on your "business" PC, my business could have bought one new PC EVERY YEAR and still have money left over. Most companies would rather spend the money where it really matters - on their networks or the back end systems that actually do the work. How does having a powerful client PC help improve database performance on my 10 year old P4-Xeon based server?

As for rewriting old DOS software, how the hell is a business that uses an old application supposed to go about getting it rewritten if the third party developer doesn't want to know? Attempting to update it yourself would be illegal and possibly nearly impossible, would it not? What if you need a com or parallel port too? Good luck getting that working in a VM.

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Re: Good Idea!

Actually I've never had a problem with SER: or PAR: on my VM's and that goes back to VMWare Workstation 1.03 at the very latest. [Disclosure: Very early beta tester for both VMWare and MS Virtual xxxxxx lines of software.]

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LDS
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Re: Good Idea!

If you still need 16 bit apps, you've a problem....

Windows done already too much to support old, often badly written software that requires too high privileges to be run. It's time to cut support - if you need something alike, it's time to upgrade too old software.

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LDS
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Re: Good Idea!

Well, I never understood why managers need the latest car/laptop/tablet/phone model, but don't care about upgrading software even when it's getting too old.

Your telescope mount software can't be upgraded? Fine - stay with old software, and maybe hardware, if the software can't be run on on newer one - or virtualize it (and you can still give VMs direct access to hardware if you need it). The latest Hubble upgrade required technicians to work on hardware and software from the '80s - and they did, didn't ask, "hey, we need <whatever> to support VMS and CP/M and 8" floppies!"

But you can't ask endless compatibility with old software from newer operating systems, there's a point when going forward means to cut backward compatibility.

If a company like Royal Mail is unable to plan investments to keep its software updated as technology changes, well, there's a lot to be worried about. Do they plan to deliver mail still by horse, steam trains and Morse code? Or did they plan - and invest - to deliver mail using more modern media?

As everything else, software is not something "buy once, use forever". Its obsolescence and upgrade cycle must be planned as everything else - machinery, cars, etc. If management fails it, well, it means there are the wrong people in the wrong place.

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Re: Good Idea!

Want some qualifications, eh?

Firstly, assertions like "we'd never hire you" carry no weight at all when you're over 50 and apparently already past it.

Meanwhile, I make a living writing real-time embedded systems right down to the metal on ARM processors.

One particular device is a classic closed-loop motor control job to throw tennis balls accurately, finding and tracking a star should be child's play today if a processor from 15 years ago could do it.

http://www.tennismatic.com/main/page_products_ball_machines_t200_series.html

In the past I have done IBM 3270 screen-scraping for Australia's first Mobile Data courier system for Skypak, The original Freight Management System for Ansett Airfreight, and the Sortation Plant control program for TNT's Enfield Sortation Plant which handled 4 parcels per second at maximum load UNDER WINDOWS! as much as any Royal Mail plant. I have real-time down cold.

Saving flying Silent Trader aircraft flying overnight from Adelaide alone for Ansett saved millions.

Feel free to verify any of this with my old manager - http://www.linkedin.com/pub/john-szwec/7/493/94b

I run Cross Compiling, Simulation and PCB design mostly on my PC and for the chap who could have bought a PC each year, I say "9 women can't have a child in 1 month", you wouldn't have the same capability as this PC from year 1 and probably not by year 5 either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @LDS

"don't care about upgrading software even when it's getting too old"

What do you mean by "too old"?

If you mean it is not doing the job that is required of it, then yes, something needs to be done. But if you have something special that does what is required efficiently and reliably, why change it?

We have an ancient DOS application and it runs for months on end without fault, only restarted when system updates need a reboot or configuration changes have to be made. To re-write that would be man-years of effort, followed by a year or more of bug-fixing, and all to get back to exactly where we currently are in terms of function.

To me that represents business resources that could be used more effectively elsewhere.

And having done so, by your book we would be then saying in 1-2 years time "oh you don't do it that way any more as the .net/HAL/silverlight/etc assumptions have changes so you need to"... and so go through a lot of said pain again, and again.

As the grammatically-challenged, but pertinent saying goes: If it ain't broke - don't fix it.

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Re: Good Idea!

"I run Windows 7 Pro' 64-bit. It has a 32-bit Windows XP VM to run all that stuff, no further development required"

And what happens to your XP VM come April 2014? Oh yes it goes out of support so no more bug-fixes for the same flawed code that later Windows share. How well protected is your 64-bit system from malware in the 32-bit VM?

Can we have a new 32-bit Windows that is supported?

One that supports 16-bit applications?

One that supports older 32-bit drivers for legacy hardware?

Oh, you just told us that is a waste of space...

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Re: Good Idea!

Well, Microsoft will stop mainstream Windows 7 support on January 12, 2015. But the company will keep providing extended support until January 14, 2020.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2010820/how-long-will-microsoft-support-windows-7.html

I run multiple firewalls from different vendors in accordance with best-practice recommendations.

I also have my previous PCs and test machines, currently: Windows Vista 32bit, XP 32bit and Windows 8.1 64bit as well as various Linux flavours, all still working fine.

Only bad workmen begrudge spending money on good tools that will last well and perform well.

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LDS
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Re: @LDS

"If it ain't broke - don't fix it."

That's what lazy syadmins spending their work hours watching porn on the Internet, and managers more interested in changing their company cars with their budgets want you to believe. And that's what made the IT systema a paraphernalia of unsecure badly configured systems running old, unamanteinable software.

You have two choice: let the old software run on old systems, or you have to upgrade it because lack of support. Everything has an obsolescence cycle - why software should last forever? Are you working on a fifty year old desktop and chair, lightin it with an old incandescent lamp, and typing on a keyboard from the '80s, and using a green phosphor CRT monitor? Do you still use perfectly working 10Mb hubs? No, you have changed them even if perfectly working to get something more "modern". Face it - software needs to be upgraded too, and you have to plan and invest for that as well. A well written DOS application can become a Windows console applications with very few changes. If the code is no longer maintenable, or lost, well, the problem is not Windows not supporting DOS apps any longer....

It's funny, there are peope here who would kill for the latest mobe (while any old mobe can still place calls perfectly), but Windows has to support code thirty years old. BTW - how many 16 bit apps can Linux run? How many old PowerPC applications can the latest OSX run?

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