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back to article Windows XP given additional resuscitation

Looks like the Small, Cheap Computer™ craze has yet again broken Microsoft's nerve to completely kill off Windows XP. Following the software giant's concession to extend the life of XP Home for the sub-notebook market until 2010, Microsoft is today granting the same reprieve for low-cost desktop PCs too. Microsoft has been …

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Joke

@ Robert Harrison

"- Doesn't crash or lock up or suddenly slow down for no explicable reason. Yes yes this is a tough one, but this is the ideal. If you can solve this you can retire immediately, somewhere hot, with a nice beach."

Erm nope, you've just put the entire IT support industry on income support (including yourself) as there's no need to hire departments to answer the phone with the response "have you tried restarting it?"

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"Vista now supports 77,000 printers, cameras, ..."

Aye, just for printers:

ESC P/2 : all Epsom printers

PCL5/6: all HP printers, most laser printers

Postscript 2/3: all high-end printers

and often (apart from Windows GDI printers) either PCL 5 or ESC P/2 is supported on Samsung, Kyocera, and so on. They may not have all the features (though that's unlikely) but that's support.

Few hundred there, but they're "free".

Cameras:

MASS storage USB: almost all cameras now

Windows Picture Transfer: lots of cameras (and heck, this isn't windows supporting, it's the hardware supporting windows...)

So all cameras pretty much.

speakers:

??? What, some sort of voltage thingy that is specific to Windows capable speakers?

Other devices:

Well, given they claim support for speakers, this could include devices such as "Desk". "Office furniture". "Microsoft".

So ignoring the odd last two (unspecific and silly), they have a support of (rough estimate) about 400 printers and 1,000 cameras just by supporting five protocols:

ESC P/2

PCL

Postscript

WPT

USB Mass storage

Forgive me if I'm underwhelmed.

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@Jaowon

"...as there's no need to hire departments to answer the phone with the response "have you tried restarting it?""

You actually want those kind of phone calls? ;o)

I'd get my coat but I can't find where in the manual it tells me how to do it.

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Thumb Up

I like M$ when they backtrack. Without trying to look sheepish.

They didn't make a blunder with Vista because people were buying super charged PC's with tons of kit for answering email. That fact it was rubbish and bloated was hidden by the beefed up super laptops that people were buying.

But people wised up, prices and eco friendly thinking kicked in and Vista has no place in a small PC market. It can't run on small 4 GB SSD with little ram and no integrated AGP's, XP can.

...and no way could M$ lose to linux. As people would then think they could put it on their desktops instead of Vista. If it runs on the laptops why shouldn't they?

Long live astute buyers of Pc's and clever engineers making things small and compact.

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Stop

@Kevin Bailey

Well, that's not all quite true is it.

The fact is that although Ubuntu may be great, customisable, not DRM'ed to the eyeballs, free, etc etc. NO-ONE can deny the fact (well they can and do, but they are tech geeks) that it is ridiculously difficult to use for a novice PC User! - which is where Windows wins!

40 year old builder & father of 3 (eg, like my friend's dad) walks into a PC shop to buy a PC for basic word processing, email, internet, printing, music, dvd's etc, - is he going to choose Windows or Linux? Of course windows! Can you seriously imagine him playing with the terminal and trying to install programs like that?! No way! He's going to go to download.com on his Windows XP machine, download an .exe, double click it and let the install-shield wizard do it for him. obviously.

for the record, i have 2 desktops, one with xp home, the other with ububtu 7 (not gone to 8 yet) - and i hate vista - xp i can live with. i would love to see ubuntu take off, and with openoffice, firefox, etc, it's starting to penetrate the mainstream, but what the diehard linux tech boys dont understand is that it needs to be PISS EASY ti use for the novice users if it wants to dominate.

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Stop

Damn...

I was hoping to see XP get the boot soon.

Not because I'm anti MS, but because I'm pro Vista!

I've been using Vista for almost a year now with no problems (and I use my computer a LOT). Infact I had more problems with XP, especially in its infancy. Everyone seems to forget how when XP was released it was slated, but now it's suddenly all things wonderful.

The sooner they axe XP and people move to Vista and actually USE it before slating it the better IMO.

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software firewall and hosts file

I have done some experiments to block windows update on XP and I can tell you that blocking the update Url in hosts file does not work, MS bypasses it as the IP addresses are hard coded in the DLL. I blocked mine on the ADSL router.

But now I use a Mac and VMWare fusion (for ie6 testing of my websites)

for @ Robert Harrison, yes OS X does tick most/all of the points you make. I have not tried Linux for a while, i used to develop on it, oh correction, i use it as my web server!

I think its ironic that I graduated in Computer science in the 80s using BSD Unix on VAX, and that's pretty much what OS X uses today and Linux is not far off the same technology. We did not ahve PC's back then, the only Windows was Sun Solaris workstation. It's funny that Vista is touted as new tech, and yet the multi-user systems i was using at Uni in 1984 are far in advance of that rubbish.

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@Kevin Bailey

@Kevin Bailey

I hate to break it to you, but Ubuntu just isn't there yet. It certainly didn't make my jaw drop when I tried it last. Note that I've been running Debian 'etch' for several years now, previously upgraded from 'sarge'. I'm in the unfortunate position of having run this system for so long that I cannot remember all of the setup I performed for web server, LDAP, Samba, mail, etc etc.

Anyway:

- Boots near instantaneously into a usable desktop (and that doesn't include a desktop that is displayed but unusable whilst you wait for the services to load)

-Check.

No, unless you have a significantly powerful system with an init.d starting asynchronously I doubt that you get a near instantaneous startup. Asynchronous startup still requires certain service dependencies to be met, file systems to be mounted, so its still not going to be that fast. Suspend may be a suitable option, as you say, although you've still got a memory image to load from disk.

"Ubuntu doesn't always need a reboot after an upgrade let alone updates. Also, ALL software on the system is included in the updates - spreadsheets, browsers, library files, OS files, - everything.

MS updaets the OS, Macs update the OS and most Apple software - Ubuntu updates ALL software."

No, updates still need to be downloaded, dependencies met, packages installed and services restarted. What about new kernel images? Don't get me wrong I still currently believe that the .deb blows most other offerings out of the water in terms of dependency checking and sophisticated pre-install post-install scripts, but a bug still potentially leaves cruft. The other problem is config files getting blated on updates, often because its a major new release version or simply because of a badly structured install. Anyway, there is still pain in this process.

- Frees you from the worry about spyware and virus issues to the point that system resources are not having to be consumed even by an embedded antivirus system in the background.

-Check.

Maybe, maybe not. I have to reiterate the tired old argument that Linux-based systems have not particularly gained the interest of hackers/virus writers/etc yet. As usual, we'll see what happens when the desktop share has gained a few %.

- Abstracts the user interface in some nice way such that you literally have links to: Email/IM, Web, Games, Office, Media and that's about it. Obviously a server edition of this future computer would have additional links.

-Check.

"Ubuntu's default Gnome window manager is a great clean interface."

Well..... It's alright, it's very similar to the Windows desktop concept is it not? Ok, that concept has been copied from previous desktop concepts and so on and so on. But, even on Ubuntu, you still get the deluge of menus and menu options, it's still easy to accidentally wipe out a panel and it's still frustrating if, when presented with all the configuration possibilities that Gnome presents you, you still can't configure the layout quite how you want, or find the right Panel applet to install. The future computer needs to simplify all this possibly, dare I say it, remove some of the flexibility that we have to admit that we just don't need.

- Installation of a game package should be as easy as drag and drop. Uninstall likewise, and the uninstall should remove *everything*, no cruft. Remember, you the user just want to use the computer not have to manage it as well.

-Check.

"Easier than drag and drop - just select tick box next to it on list in Add/Remove programs."

Assuming of course your package repositories are set up correctly and that dependencies are met. See above. Again there is detail creeping through the abstraction that I'm sure the likes of you and me can deal with, but why should we have to?

- Manages your documents such that you can hierarchical store them how you see fit (all in one sensible location on the future computer, not in the root drive, not in my documents, etc, etc) but that they are replicated so you can get to them from anywhere in the world, and they are secured.

-Check.

"Shared Documents can be accessed from the Place menu option. Depends on how you want it set up but we have a central server for docs and a folder on my desktop is connected straight to it."

And is that folder automatically cached when off-line and resynchronised? Can you log in to a computer on the other side of the world and just click on a link to access your documents as if they were local, safe in the knowledge that they're encrypted and inaccessible to anyone but you and permitted third parties? The whole reason we have great security cock-ups, CDs lost in the post, etc is because you can't at the moment accomplish the above in a couple of clicks.

- Handles as many different media formats as possible all abstracted from you the user. If media conversion is necessary it should be as simple as renaming the file whilst maintaining aspect ratio, sound quality, etc etc.

-Check.

"Ubuntu uses much cleverer stuff than (ha ha) file extensions. All media formats I've tried have been handled automatically."

No. What about ones it doesn't recognise, does it seamlessly pull down a codec for the job? Can other users then use this codec? What about the cruft factor? The last time I checked even on Linux, conversion is still a slow and painful process. And conversion will still be necessary for a long time while legacy systems interact with this future computer. You didn't answer my requirement on this one.

- Doesn't crash or lock up or suddenly slow down for no explicable reason. Yes yes this is a tough one, but this is the ideal. If you can solve this you can retire immediately, somewhere hot, with a nice beach.

-Check.

"Easy one. Unix based so crashing doesn't really happen."

You're starting to lose my respect now. Linux crashes. I've seen X desktop take out a system (graphics drivers most likely), I've seen many a kernel panic, 2 days ago I saw a log entry where the ext3 driver puked out a stack trace whilst writing to the journal file. I've had a Linux root filesystem destroyed because of some long term steady file system corruption (ext3 based), lesson learned by upping frequency of automatic file system checks. Yes, unfortunately, Linux crashes. Maybe this will be unavoidable in a future computer, but maybe we'll have some clever stack recovery techniques by then.

"Don't need to - Ubuntu 8.04 is here for free.

Try it - what have you got to lose - I think you'll be shocked at how good it is compared to MS products.

Of course - you might have to admit that you're behind the curve a bit - but you'll still be a relatively early adopter.

Also, I'm not as experienced with Mac's but I think most of the points I've made apply to Mac's as well."

And here's where you lost my respect completely with the smug overtones and evangelistic approach. I have a Linux and Windows box side by side (both configured a long time ago), and have done so for years. I've had a Linux box since before 2000 for what its worth. I have tried Ubuntu and found it to be a slight, marginal improvement on Debian. But not much. My post was not about current desktop systems and all their idiosyncrasies, my post is a wishlist, prompted by the fact that there is room for improvement in all the software technologies we currently have. Unfortunately, Ubuntu doesn't answer it and my jaw remains where it is.

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Alert

Vista Haters

to preface this yes it is long and no im not a MS fanboy i also run 3 flavors of linux and 2 of unix, and have been in IT and Support in many positions over the last 20 years.

I find it funny that the very peeps that pile up so much hate on vista either A) i have never installed it and worked with it

B) Installed in on an old pc with very little ram and had a bad experience beacuse of it.

of those 2 the most intresting are the A type, they have no idea what vista is like the just have heard FUD and jump on the bandwagon, without any real knowledge of what the are vehemently spouting about.

The real deal: Vista just like xp when it was 1st introduced wont run well on a bottom end pc's well, least not with out some upgrades. simplest and cheapest of these is memory, I have a 1.8ghz p4 laptop with 512mb ram to start installed vista as a test ran really slow uppped the ram to 2gb ($50 US, got the ram used) runs very well now, obviously slower than my quadcore dektop with concern to apps and cant run aero due to video, but runs with 0 issues, and actually faster than the dual boot to xp does with the same amount of ram.

The misnormer some people state vista uses way more ram and it does on its own but not by that much, the amount of ram shown to be used is a fake it "reserves" a large portion of ram for sytem use, but can be quickly diverted to application use if its requested, the ram is not in use at this time but will show on ram monitoring tools even vistas own that it is, this is part of the vista memory mangement which far exceeds xp's capibility in both speed and capacity.

Another thing that i was suprised with vista is spyware even when ive purposely loaded some of spyware apps or tojans that crippled xp onto vista they either didnt work and showed installed but had no effect to worst case limted effect IE created popups installed software etc, but its nasty side unlike xp, once in safe mode were easily removed.

Reason is Security, we hear it all the time vista has better security, but few know intimately what that means, NO application runs with admin privledges unlike XP where everything runs WITH Admin rights which was xp's biggest criticism. Many have heard that but what it means to spyware and other malware is alot of spyware/malware either assume admin rigths or they use tricks that require admin user rights to do, like moding system files or inserting themselves in to system areas, these things are impossible in vista as it doesnt have the right both on the system side or file system side to make those modifcations, there are some ways it can be bypassed but not via the web only loacaly running and asking for the executables privilages to but upgrded then the user agreeing, hence they fail and are either broken or easily removed. not to say vista is bullet proof to spyware i have had 1 that took a bit of a mess to remove that was virtumonde, but although present and hard to get rid of it didnt do anything it was broken, just hard to get rid of beacuse it was broken.

Is Vista perfect? not by a long shot. Is it better than XP? depends on how you use it. All the drm etc is easily avioded if you know how, but overall yes it works faster smarter and has less issues when properly configured than xp, just like xp did exactly the same way versus windows 98.

Moral: the less one makes declairative statements the less one is likely to look foolish in retrospec :P

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Flame

DRM?

Oh yeah, that stupid software that tells me what is on the newly-purchased (genuine, original packaging etc from a 'real' shop and not some dodgy online music store) music CD I just stuck in my floptical drive and then asks me if I want to buy a copy?

The software that wants to see if the 'movie' files on my PC are genuine before it will run them... Oh wait, they're not movie files, they're cut scenes between stages in a gorram computer game!

The software that will happily let my wife watch a dubious copy of a film downloaded (by a friend, prior to intended purchase of same) from the 'Net but then insist on displaying a "copying is theft" video track from FACT every time we watch the Genuine, holograph-protected, originally-packaged and bought-from-a-store DVD. Every rutting time we watch it. The quality on the dodgy copy was damn-near as good as the Genuine DVD, but we didn't have to sit through FACTs blatant self-justification crap every time we watched it.

Let the DRM creators burn in (Development) Hell. Hangning's too good for 'em.

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Alien

Re: Vista Haters

Well you're trolling or lying because the very headline is over-emotive and unhelpful.

Do you think we hate being locked out of our house when it is pissing down with rain?

Yup.

Does that mean we're "door-unlocking-and-not-being-rained-on" zealots?

No.

We have a damn good reason for it.

So why must there NOT be a damn good reason for hating Vista?

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Alien

@Steve Barnes

Yes, we can. It's real easy to say that Ubuntu is real easy for a noob to use.

Why?

Because it is.

It's not easy to buy software for in PCWorld, but that's fuck all to do with using the OS.

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@Vista Haters

Ah.. so the two machines I bought last year for me and the missus to play games on should run vista fine with no problems?

like *gentle caress* they do.

i'd love the spritelyness of my old XP machine(*), i'd love the speed of the Fedora machine we used to use as a file sharer.

Hell i'd love the two new machine to admit the other machines existed on the network!

Vista is shite. Shite on old boxes and shite on new boxes.

Accept it. If you dont use your machine for much it might like you. But copying files over a network, nah. Stable desktop, nah.

Sometimes I feel like looking in the garage for my ZX Spectrum (48k upgraded from 16k manually) and seeing if it'll still work, then see if i think that Computing has got Better or just Prettier(**)

(*) bought from Tiny in 1999 as a win98se machine; four motherboards later the only piece left of the original machine was the floppy drive (which refused to work but i kept it in for keepsake) and the oem message on the windows screen (Which survived the upgrade to xp home, then xp pro); just finally got too flaky to continue even after clean installs. yes it was likely my own fault but installing vista on it trashed it due to the 18monthold motherboard not having drivers even though the vista-compatiblity check came two thumbs up.

(**) sarcasm included at no extra cost

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@Mark

To be frank, bollocks. Simply bollocks. Ubuntu may be easy for a "NOOB" to use - as in, someone who's half decent with computers and trying Ubuntu for the first time etc, but for your average joe with little computing experience etc, i would bet solid money they wouldn't be able to install apps or configure settings etc. I love my ubuntu set-up. But I'm not in denial that it's not suited for novices!

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IT Angle

@Steve Barnse

No, your zealot rant is bollocks. For your average Joe, preinstalled, it is as easy as Windows ever was. Since it already HAS Office software, DVD writing, movie playing (this is a paid distribution, Dell does it this way), lots of time-waster games, email, several IM clients, several Photoshop equivalents, many editors, languages and lots,lots more, so you don't have to install anything, it's EASIER for Joe to use than MS, which requires installing a lot of stuff that isn't in Windows or the bundles (which either don't include much other than AV, firewall and "Works" if you're lucky, or it's much more expensive).

If you're having to install it yourself, compared to installing a retail windows on your machine, it is FAR FAR easier.

And if you want dual-boot?!?!?! Jeez, that under windows can be a herculean task.

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Dead Vulture

Linux isn't ready for the mainstream. Maybe in 10 years, but not now.

I just converted my fiancée over to Windows XP. She's been running with Linux (several flavours, mostly Debian, Red Hat and some Ubuntu) - and she's just sick and tired of having to open a terminal window and edit files when she needs to change a system setting. Even I, a Solaris veteran, was amazed when a system update rendered her new Fedora 9 system unable to boot into graphical mode. Windows doesn't suffer from this problem. Neither does Solaris. So why do I need to reinstall a graphics driver if my kernel gets updated in Linux? This smacks of atrocious system design.

Linux is still in alpha. The geeks need to acknowledge this - I shouldn't need to know about things in /etc to change configuration settings, or tweaking things like XF86Config. Trying to set up dual display mode didn't work, because the systems setting popup just ignored my settings when I clicked on "Save" - i.e. it was as if I didn't configure anything. Not good. We were trying to get her (NVidia-equipped) laptop, complete with newest drivers to drive a beamer - since she needed to make a presentation on Tuesday. Wouldn't play ball - the highest resolution it would allow me to pick was 640x480. So I made the mistake of picking it, and the system then rebooted without graphics - and the startx command refused to play ball. At this point, we realised that if things were this complicated, we were not using the right operating system for our needs.

In the end, we booted the Windows XP installation on her laptop, and it took less time for her to completely re-write her presentation in PowerPoint, than it took for us to wrestle with Linux - just to get an external display. This, to me, speaks volumes - and neither of us are newbies. We just don't like having to screw around with our operating system in order to get things done. The OS should be a tool, not a challenge. And this is why I have bought several Windows XP and Office 2003 licences - because I'm sure as hell not going to Vista, and Linux just isn't a workable replacement for Windows XP yet.

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