This time Microsoft has gone too far
I can't help thinking about Ebenezer Scrooge. Not sure why...
You're a Reg reader so chances are you're also informal, and unpaid, tech support for all manner of family members and friends. But with fewer than 60 days left until Microsoft more-or-less pulls the plug on Windows XP, Redmond wants you to stop sharing your expertise and just tell those you know and love to buy a new PC. …
> Because they're stopping providing free support for an 12 year old product?
No, because as we all know Windows 8 is not a destination, and what is being promised for Windows 9 would make for a far easier transition for those who are happy with the features offered by XP. Pushing non-technical end-users onto a product with a big learning curve is bad, doing so with a product that will in 18 months' time be replaced by something else is repugnant.
Of course vendor promises are perhaps even less reliable than politicians' promises.
"No, because as we all know Windows 8 is not a destination,"
Windows 7 computers are widely available in Canada and the USA.
Retail and OEM copies of Windows 7 are widely avaiable.
Linux is widely available.
Macs are widely available.
MS says, "Buy a new computer".
Where in that do you find a requirement that that new computer be Windows 8 ?
And the common complaint about Windows 8 were the metro UI. As of Windows 8.1 that complaint is obsolete.
I have read zero complaints about stability or speed on Windows 8. Just, "Me too, other people are bitching about 8 so I should too."
That may be true wherever you come from, but where I am - you buy a new PC, you get Windows 8. There is no W7 option.
And even if there were, why is "buying an OS that's already officially obsolescent, and is itself scheduled for 'end of mainstream support' in less than a year" supposed to be an acceptable option?
No, when XP is finally terminated I'll just tell Steam I'm going offline, pull the wireless adaptor out of my old machine, and continue using it for games. We have tablets and phones for web browsing nowadays, so there's no real reason why it needs to be online at all. I'll consider buying a new PC in my own time, thank you so much, not on Microsoft's schedule.
Does 8.1 address the horrible jarring jumping to full screen issues? (That is the show stopper, though I think non-techies don't like the loss of the start MENU, anyone who remembers Win 3.1 and DOS can handle that)
As far I am aware, the changes are that it allows you to start on the desktop and replacing the hot corner thing with a button.
> Where in that do you find a requirement that that new computer be Windows 8 ?
We are really struggling to find inexpensive new machines with Windows 7 in the UK. Certainly machines that have Windows 7 "out of the box" - basically one is looking at the Thinkpad range to get a laptop with a 7 preinstall.
And a machine with preinstalled Windows is what the type of end-user mentioned in this article would be looking for.
So by elimination Granny is not going to install Linux or be able to afford a Mac or Thinkpad.
My comment is not related to performance or usability of Windows 8, it is the learning curve associated with the default UI (and the setup procedure that guides the hapless user to a Microsoft account).
But since you mentioned performance, to me Windows 8 does not feel any more responsive than 7 (animations and similar time-wasters are turned off on my system), both are noticeably less responsive than Linux (Mint). Linux has its own down-sides but one can elect to have a simple UI that results in a more responsive system. I'm not saying this is for Granny... Windows 7 is the right OS for her!
"Because they're stopping providing free support for an 12 year old product?"
No - a 4 year old product - when m$ were very anxious to displace Linux as the OS of non-choice on netbooks and take your money.
Throw away a perfectly good modern netbook? Maybe m$ values landfill more than their green credentials. Downgrade to Win 8.x as they don't fully support the screen size and pay more than the original netbook cost?
Well no. M$ have forced me to leave their tender embrace. Which reminds me I must get to grips with Python ...
It's true that providing support for software costs money. If we were talking about telephone support, quite a bit of money.
However, making security updates available for download for Windows XP involves a more limited cost.
If people's computers are still serving their intended purpose, neither the operating system nor the hardware needs to be replaced. Why gratuitously cause waste? New versions of Windows should sell on their merits.
And, of course, Windows XP should have been written properly in the first place, so that it did not contain any vulnerabilities whatever for hackers to exploit.
But Redmond is discouraging that, pointing out that those who chose to do so “... will not be able to keep any files, settings, or applications when upgrading Windows XP, so they will need to back up all their files and locate any installation discs (or purchase confirmation emails) prior to doing the upgrade.”
because, to Microsoft, the idea of separating your OS and data partitions is an unknown concept. It is the norm in Unix since around '75, and other platforms before that. Admittedly, professional Wintel admins do it, kind of, by creating a D: drive, but that is plainly not what Microsoft assumes.
because, to Microsoft, the idea of separating your OS and data partitions is an unknown concept
That's why, on all my Windows computers whether XP, 7, or even 2000, I have the C: drive for the OS and programs, and I partitioned a D: drive for data only.
Computer is faster, defragging makes sense, and nasty software doesn't know where to find my data files. Migrating to a new computer is a breeze.
"That's why, on all my Windows computers whether XP, 7, or even 2000, I have the C: drive for the OS and programs, and I partitioned a D: drive for data only."
No need even to do that. XP is/was perfectly happy to mount a second drive (or partition) on "C:\Documents and Settings". This approach makes it less likely that badly written software will put your data in the wrong place.
The separate partition for data is relevant for XP, but subsequent versions have a backup program that requires another location and Action Center that flags the fact that you haven't run it. Which given that by default it requires one's DVD burner would make it more conscientious than any Linux version I've used, which I've never seen encouraging back-ups at all let alone one's safe from HDD failure, theft, and possibly fire too.
Unfortunately almost no-one makes said back-ups regardless.
Also add to the fact that Windows likes to force the Windows registry down peoples throats and wonder what when wrong because a petty registry entry has stopped Windows from booting..
What was that old wisdom about not keeping all your eggs in one basket? Windows (unlike Linux) really is that stupid
I don't know why because thanks to their boneheaded charging of $100+!!! for Win 7 and 8.x their pulling the plug on XP is gonna be giving a LOT of folks "free upgrades" to Win 7 thanks to piracy.
The stupidest thing they EVER did was kill the $50 Win 7 upgrade as for the first time I had actually seen piracy drop like a stone, after the price went back up? The local papers were filled with PCs running Ultimate. If there was a functioning brain left in Redmond they'd offer Win 7 Starter for $35 and your choice of Win 7 or 8.1 for $50 to get the XP users to switch, instead between those that end up getting tablets and those that get pirate 7 they won't get squat, stupid.
"The stupidest thing they EVER did was kill the $50 Win 7 upgrade as for the first time I had actually seen piracy drop like a stone, after the price went back up? " -- Piracy works in $MS's favour. If Piracy was hurting their bottom line; they would actually do something to prevent it.
Do you have any specific Slackware experience with a ThinkPad X61? Most of my recent Linux experience has been with Ubuntu, but they have developed serious delusions of grandeur and can't be bothered with little old machines these days.
P.S. My usual evaluation of Linux is "Superior software, inferior business model."
I put Slack on an X61 a couple-five years ago, for my youngest brother's eldest daughter. She's still using it, with slack-current (her call, not mine). I can't remember the details ... but I know I found all the hardware-specific info/code online way back then. Gut feeling is that slack-stable will be a simple load it & use it.
Give it a shot & report back?
Backup everything you find important before you start!
Do you have any specific Slackware experience with a ThinkPad X61?
No, but my sister, who got seriously pissed off with Ubuntu removing tools she used and with Unify in general, asked for help over Christmas. I replaced it with Mint and Cinnamon as the default desktop. Result: instant happiness.
The install was totally painless, so you might want to try Mint too.
...infested windows machine to Mint (Mate)
That's one of my biggest "selling points", when I'm trying to get someone to try Linux. The antivirus programs on Windows can chew up a tremendous amount of processor resources, not to mention the purchase and update costs of such programs. On an older machine (because not everyone can afford to change machines) going to Linux can mean getting 25% of your CPU cycles back.
Oh, and the "doesn't suck any worse than Windows" was a joke...there's a perception that Linux is clunky and requires all kinds of nerdy skills to use. I just give my "clients" a short tour, and tell them to call me with any questions, reminding them that their old XP system is still there on the old hard drive if they feel they need to go back. With hard drives around $80, it's a lot lower cost than buying a new PC.
The obvious choice for an Ubuntu user who is unhappy with the direction that Ubuntu has taken is to go to Mint. Personally I'm a Redhat user, I use a combination of Fedora with Mate (thanks Mint people for creating the Mate project) and Redhat EL clones (primarily Scientific Linux and a little CentOS).
On the subject of moving WIndows users to Linux, I have experience with users on the opposite ends of the sophistication spectrum. About a dozen years ago I moved my sister from WIn98 to Fedora after I discovered that her laptop was a virtual pest house of viruses. She has 0 understanding of computers and only needs a browser and e-mail. I cofigured a basic system for her and she never knew the difference except the system never breaks. Currently I have her on Scientific Linux because it's unbreakable and she doesn't need any of the programs that are missing from RHEL (Redhat EL is aimed at enterprises so it doesn't try to be as full featured as it's sister Fedora). If I was doing it today I'd put her on a Chromebook because that would fully meet her needs and require even less support from me. At the other end of the spectrum is my girlfriend who is a software developer but who has always been a WIndows user never a *nix person. She had heavily customized her environment and she is a heavy Photoshop user and the Photoshop license is tied to the machine, and she really hates change. Every now and then I'd have to waste a bunch of my time repairing XP when something broke on it. The last straw was on Valentines day several years ago, we had plans to drive down to Cape Cod for the day, instead I spent the entire day removing a root kit from XP (which I finally did using a Fedora Live USB stick, the was unfixable from within Windows). Once I had the system back up I made an Acronis backup of the system and took it home and created a KVM virtual machine which was an exact clone of her system. As it turns out that was a very fortunate thing because her motherboard died a couple of weeks later. I replaced her motherboard, CPU and memory with an iCore5 and then put Fedora on it and then I put the XP VM on top of Fedora. After several years she is finally using a lot of native Linux apps but she still relies on a bunch of Windows programs so she has the XP VM running in a virtual desktop all of the time. The XP VM is frequently backed up so when it breaks it's always a simple matter of just overwriting the broken copy with a recent backup which takes a few minutes instead of all day. All of her licenses work just fine on the VM. Running an unpatched VM won't be particularly dangerous because it's much less vulnerable than a native system because it's never used for anything dangerous like web browsing, that's done on Linux, and because if something does happen you can fix it by overwriting the VM with a backup copy.
The bottom line is that if you have a friend with very simple computing needs the best solution is to have them buy a Chromebook or a Chromebox, they are barely more expensive than a Win8.1 license, and they will be easy to use and reliable. If you have someone who is strongly tied to XP for a good reason than a virtual machine on Linux is the best way to go. For someone in the middle just moving to Linux is a good solution. A Linux distro with a Mate desktop will be very familiar to an XP user. What's more Open/Libreoffice is much closer to and pre-2010 version of MS Office than the current version of MS Office is. The best Linux distro for a new user is whatever their LInux using friend uses. All Linux distros do mostly the same things so it's just a matter of having someone to lean on during the transition that's important.
"Suggesting Linux to someone unable to wean themselves off XP would probably strain the friendship to a greater degree" -- You would not believe the look of disgust that friends of mine that I have migrated to Linux desktops have given me after seeing my Windows 7 games machine at home. They almost feint when I tell them it's not even dual-boot o_O
Hats off to Jake. I have moved several friends - and associates - from XP to Linux Mint, which seems to offer the most similar desktop experience to XP.
"Suggesting Linux to someone unable to wean themselves off XP would probably strain the friendship to a greater degree" No, does not work like that. I have had only thanks and, likewise, none of them have yet - over about 6 years, gone back to MS.
The only problem I have with Linux, is the lack of support with software on occasions which can be the back breaker for home users, and wine does not always work..
Once software developers realise Linux is a big market, and they need to support it, then we'll be in a better position to convert users to Linux!
That "strain the friendship" comment was meant in jest, as a comment about how Microsoft must see it, not a serious statement on the author's part that people would be more offended at being told to switch to Linux than to buy a new computer when they have a perfectly good one.
No, they've not asked you to return them to MS, they've got someone sensible to either return them to MS or install a Linux distro which isn't utterly obscure. You know, like RedHat, CentOS, Debian or Ubuntu.
Slackware? It isn't 1994 any more, you know?
Slackware is not infected by the systemd cancer turning the Linux ecosystem into a opaque Microsoftian one, by basically the decree of a very small reduced number of people/companies who prefer not to have shell scrips floating around and prefer harder to build source code and services (ugh) that metastasize through the whole ecosystem and gives them an out of bounds leverage on user space..
It may not be the 90's but Slackware is quite relevant. I'm going back.
I'm so glad I found somebody for whom systemd has been a pain in the rear. It has been my biggest problem with openSUSE since the advent of version 12 and the latest version, 13.1, is so totally broken, especially with the changes to udev and other bits, that I'm now actively looking for alternative distros. Nice to hear that Slack is still about - haven't tried it since my early Linux days, and that was back when I was starting with Caldera!
To be honest, the timing of the whole systemd business couldn't be worse given that shifting users from WXP would have been a good way to expand the Linux user base. Using systems with major flaws in them such as systemd is not the way to go and while I have no problem using earlier, more stable versions (my preferred versions of openSUSE at time of writing, for example, would be 11.4 or 12.2 but both are coming to the end of their lives now) it is common to find that distros prefer you to keep up to date and provide little support for older versions.
In other words, Windows XP was something of an anomaly. The reasons may be different but the various Linux distros, especially the big ones, are just as rough on the user upgrade path as Microsoft or Apple (there are exceptions to this, though, where a distro prefers to go with an evolved path rather than a complete upgrade path - forget the distro names right now but they do exist).
"(my preferred versions of openSUSE at time of writing, for example, would be 11.4 or 12.2 but both are coming to the end of their lives now) it is common to find that distros prefer you to keep up to date and provide little support for older versions."
Well - you really mean the 'community' distros like OpenSUSE and Fedora here.
And to be honest the line from OpenSUSE is that you can easily upgrade - just set your repositories and to a zypper dist-upgrade.
But perhaps of more relevance - check out the SuSE Evergreen project.
That is keeping older distros alive by providing updates. So you DO have support for older versions.
Bah... go ride the baloney pony off into the sunset. Modern Slackware has decent versions of everything, has a fully functional environment out of the box, for compiling things they don't provide and it's simple to administer for anyone clueful. Once that's done, it can be be used by Grandma and it won't change.
I've moved several of my friends from XP to Ubuntu (and now, Mint, because Unity).
Some tricks I have learned:
- buy a new hard drive and tell them their WinXP drive is untouched if they feel the need to go back
- install Virtualbox and a WinXP machine for Windows apps they can't live without
The results have been excellent. For users who mainly want email and web browsing, with a bit of photo sharing and iTunes, this works well (with iTunes on the virtual XP machine, of course).
I get very few phone calls for help and my "users" seem happy with Linux.
My tagline is that Linux doesn't suck any worse than Windows, and they should give it a try.
I've tried out a variety of Linuxes and PC-BSD, recently. On my laptpop, I've found Linux Mint XFCE, a fully supported Mint download, to be extremely easy to install and use out of the box. I'm also finding that using the Midori web browser seems to help keep memory usage low.
It is absolutely perfect for surfing the web, emails, facebook etc... and it comes with LibreOffice and, of course, the plethora of GNU/Linux apps that are available through the applications manager.
I think now I'll download Slackware and give that a go. Gotta say that I'm very happy with Mint XFCE though.
I converted my 2005 IBM Thinkpad R60 from XP to LinuxMint 15 with Cinnamon. Boot time reduced from 5 minutes to one. With SSD I expect it would be 10 seconds, as fast as my first gen HP Chromebook 14. Also doubled the memory to 4 GB. Sweet ride. Disclaimer: I find I use the Chromebook more. Luv the short boot time, guv'nor.
...wouldn't let their partners stand in the rain. They surely will bring out Windows XP 2.0. Otherwise they'd just act like any old commercial company putting profits in front of partnerships.
If you are a "gold partner" of Microsoft or any of those marketing things, pause and think about for a moment. You may currently develop your business critical applications in C#/.net, Silverlight or even VBA. You justify this by thinking that Microsoft would never pull the rug from under you and support your technology till infinity.
Now we are here, Microsoft pulls the rug from under Windows XP despite of it still being used on a third of Windows installations. Microsoft does not offer any kind of sensible upgrade plan, for example an XP 2.0. Vista and Windows 7 are no alternative for most companies.
If you are just using plain Win32 you actually have a small change you code might run on newer versions of Windows, but then Microsoft brought out Windows RT, a version of Windows incompatible with Win32.
Microsoft has supported their operating systems and most of their technologies much longer than other vendors (i.e. Apple, or even many Linux distros). Windows XP is now 13 years old and has seen at least three generations of successors (Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1), all of which are much better and much more secure.
And quite frankly, if in 13 years you haven't managed to upgrade your infrastructure even though XP's retirement date was well known you simply should not work in IT, period.
Expecting that products will be supported forever is stupid, especially in a fast moving sector like IT.
Apple have a much wider appeal than the so called 'style over substance' brigade.
I used to support a friends family XP system. Frigging nightmare if truthe be told.
They now run a OSX on a Mac Mini and my support calls have dropped fantastically. The whole family use it and wouldn't revert back to Windows.
I use OSX for my personal use. I get a lot less problems with general use than I ever did with Windows. I have to use Windows 7 for work and it is a PITA because of the corporate build we have to fight against on a daily basis. It is little wonder that once we got VMWare installed on it we only use Windows 7 as a launcher for our work system of choice, mine being CentOS 6.5.
I have a machine that I purchased 12 years ago, and it's still running XP!
Let me check. It's the same machine, although I've had to replace the motherboard/processor/memory twice, the disk more than once, the graphics card and the power supply. I also replaced the DVD drive with a DVD/CD combo.
It's still the same machine because the case, floppy disk drive and CD burner are original. I think it has one of the original keyboards attached to it at the moment as well!
In case you ask, it is running a retail copy of XP home, which allows me to change the machine as much as I like!
In reality, most machines purchased in the last 8 years will probably have been skipped a long time ago, because very few people are prepared to do the hardware surgery necessary to keep older systems capable of running XP with SP3 installed.
So we're really not talking about systems as old as 13 years, we're talking about machines that could be less than 5. And some businesses with volume licenses may well have still been building XP systems more recently than this.
My last 'work' laptop was delivered to me new in 2010 with an XP build. It's just been replaced, and I opted to have Linux on it. Yaaaay. I am now officially a Microsoft free worker, having a work Linux desktop and laptop (it's complex, I work for a vendor at an end-customer site), and use Linux exclusively at home.
Big companies with volume licences are not what MS are talking about, they're talking about home users so a lot of this thread is moot.
However if you want to talk about big business then be aware that the preferred licensing/support model pushed by MS for years means that those customers probably have a licence to install the latest version of Windows. The reason XP is still out there in the enterprise in such large numbers is that upgrading would be a pain.
The more XP templates these enterprises have rolled out over the years even after the superior 7 launched has made upgrading enterprise wide ever more complex and expensive.
... and crap like that (and things like no downgrade rights for consumer editions of Windows), is why I employ "licensing tools" with no remorse.
I'm still going to help people with Windows XP computers. They don't have to change their lives to suit Microsoft's agendas. Most people who are used to XP don't want a silly new version of Windows
In Windows PC terminology, the machine is only the same if it has the same motherboard, to prevent the confusion over whether a case counts as "the same machine".
If you replace the motherboard, Windows will want to re-activate, as it believes it is a different machine.
"So we're really not talking about systems as old as 13 years, we're talking about machines that could be less than 5. And some businesses with volume licenses may well have still been building XP systems more recently than this."
In a business environment perhaps, but in the home it's quite possible. Until this Christmas my parents were still using their 10 year old XP machine, and it's these types of people I think MS are targeting. In my parents case I got so fed up with having to support XP legacy that I bought them a new Windows 8 box instead. Bit of a learning curve for them admittedly, but after showing them how it works I think they've got the hang of it now.
Maybe, but most people don't have a f*****g clue about computers so this point is moot.
And wasn't Windows 7 recently lifted into "Best Windows Ever" status by punters when Windows 8 came along? Apparently it's not really considered of a failure then, is it?
"Expecting that products will be supported forever is stupid, especially in a fast moving sector like IT."
What is this support crap? If no one discovers a bug in x years the bug becomes the owners problem not the suppliers?
I expect suppliers to fix bugs forever and if they are not prepared to fix bugs in old products to offer free upgrades to products which have the bugs fixed.
You justify this by thinking that Microsoft would never pull the rug from under you and support your technology till infinity.
I haven't developed for Windows in a long time, but given the succession of development platform debacles Microsoft oversaw in the last ten-odd years (VB6, XAML, Silverlight, Windows Phone 7, etc etc) you'd have to be quite deluded to still believe that.
To be fair, most of the tech MS threw under the bus these past years was either bloated legacy or never any good to begin with. But of course that's beside the point – if they peddled those things to developers in the first place, they might as well provide some migration path to the next great thing, rather than just ditch support and leave their customers to scramble for a way out. And how about drawing up a sensible technology roadmap and sticking to it while they're at that?
Alas, to each one their lot. Me, I should be looking into a replacement notebook for the wife...
"Anyone who thinks Redmond (or Cupertino, for that matter!) gives a rat's ass about the end-user is deluded."
Got it in a nutshell there. What business does is make money for shareholders.
But you're going to get people saying "But MS are upsetting their customers, which will mean a drop in revenue and so less money for the shareholders." Those people are wrong. XP users are not customers, not any more. They were customers, but if they're still running XP they haven't spent any money with Redmond for a long time. Hardly anything MS sell now will run on XP. Actually I haven't checked in detail, do Redmond actually sell anything that runs on XP?
So why would Microsoft or their shareholders give a wet one about upsetting XP users exactly?
Oh and why don't we hear the same whinges about Apple ending support for much newer OS's? Simple really the majority of fanbois (and goirlz presumably) are the sort of suckers who have to have the latest hardware and so stopped using those versions of OSX years ago.
Microsoft's problem here is actually that, despite all the detractors banging on about how terrible Windows is, the simple fact is that Windows XP is too good. People still want to use it in their millions so it must be good. Which is of course a crock, the fact is that XP is good *enough* and that's all most folk need.
Yes but you only want to buy an OS once as a client, but Office is upgraded every 3 years and Microsoft has a range of Development Software, Digital Media Authoring Software and Internet Software such as Skype. Have you ever heard of Microsoft Premier Support ?. They are not just dropping the OS, but support for Microsoft the software packages on it if they can and people paid for that since 2001.
I'd rephrase that.
"Anyone who thinks Redmond (or Cupertino, for that matter!) gives a rat's ass about the end-user once they have got their money is deluded."
In other words, Redmond and Cupertino are only interested in money. They develop things as a way to get money. The only reason why Microsoft apologised for Windows ME and the only reason why they developed Windows 7 so close to Vista was because they were losing money. The only reason why they are rethinking the approach they will take for Windows 9 is because Windows 8 isn't making them the kind of money they were hoping for. Apple are no different. These are American corporates. That's their nature.
Windows XP 2.0?
I haven't actually tried this myself in a long time. Reportedly it's getting pretty good.
there's actually a benefit to MS dropping support for XP.. they will stop trying to make it incompatible with things like Wine, React, or OS/2.
Then they can be persuaded to switch to a Mac or the *Nix distribution of choice.
If you have to completely retrain yourself to use Windows because WinXP is *nothing* like Win8.x, then you've already accepted relearning a new operating system & might as well add Apple & *Nix to the mix.
Once you've done that, you'll realize you can either spend the funds on having your TechSupportPerson upgrade your current machine to *Nix for a pizza & a pint, and never pay another penny to Microsoft,
Or you can pay double the cost of a typical Windows machine to get a Mac towards the same end.
Since TechSupportPerson can quite easily theme the distro to look like XP & thus ease your culture shock, why not give *Nix a try?
Except for some very specific tasks, *Nix already does everything Windows can do, and gets the job done for free.
Email client and Word Processing Productivity suite?
Got it, and it's free instead of another ~$300 for "Office UberPremium MightActuallyWorkThisTime" edition.
Browser? Got so many choices you'll wonder why Windows is so limited.
Media players? Ditto, and they're free to boot.
Watching kitten videos on YouTube, Hulu, Vimeo, etc? Not a problem, as long as you don't mind it not being in YetAnotherInternetExplorerWindow.
Tax prep? Accounting? Hobby progress keeper? Mechanical Engineering? Advanced Desk Top Publishing? You name it, *Nix has got it, and all of it is *Free*.
So if you've got to help your friends upgrade up & away from Windows XP to something modern, why not do it with style & show them the way to freedom?
So people that complain that their OS is no longer supported after 13 years should switch to a walled garden platform with probably the shortest OS support cycles in the industry?
As all alternative browers are also available for Windows I'm not sure why you conclude Windows is 'limited' in this regard.
You also seem to believe that operating systems are a purpose in itself, but for most users it's the application that counts and which dictates which OS to run. If your apps are available for other platforms (or you can find good enough or better alternatives there) then fine, otherwise you're f****d. And there is no point in moving to Linux or Mac when you still Windows for some non-replaceable application, in which case you may as well save the hassle and stay Windows only.
BTW: OpenOffice is great but it barely can hold up with ancient Microsoft Office 2003, let alone 2007 or newer. LibreOffice is even worse, as it's essentially a features whore (why finally getting these annoying bugs fixed when we can have skins!). It's perfectly fine for simpler tasks, but if you do more than writing the occasional letter or doing a simple spreadsheet then there is nothing else than MS Office.
>Because every single alternative to Excel is crap.
Disagree, Lotus Improv contained some very good 3D spreadsheet handling capabilities in it's time. Excel is still stuck in the 2D+1 world.
But yes when knocking together 'interesting' models, I've stuck with Excel, inspite of the hassle of working across sheet layers.
would you be so kind as to be specific? What functionality do you require in a spreadsheet is not present in an FOSS tool (e.g. libreoffice), other than "works with M$ Office".
Perhaps you are a troll, but if you find a feature lacking, please be informative and perhaps a solution can be found...
"would you be so kind as to be specific? What functionality do you require in a spreadsheet is not present in an FOSS tool (e.g. libreoffice), other than "works with M$ Office"."
I think you'll find that "works with MS Office" _is_ the killer feature required. A substantial subset of the world uses MS Office. You don't have to like this. I don't. However, I must deal with it. FOSS office suites simply have too much trouble with formatting Office files; such files quite often cannot be round-tripped, they become unreadably screwed during the process. (Some are merely unreadable.) And, yes, I'm quite sure that this is deliberate on the part of Microsoft; files from older versions of Office are often hard to round-trip, too. (Go on. Open a heavily formatted Powerpoint file, created in Office 2000 (Windows) or 2001 (Mac) in, say, Office 2013. Notice how elements are all over the place. Fix it, save it as a PPT (and not a PPTX) file so that in theory it can be read by the older version of Office. Watch the user's face when they try to access that file.) No, like it or not, many people not only have to have MS Office, they have to have multiple versions of MS Office so that they can actually get work done. I'm typing this on a Mac mini running OS X 10.9; it has Office 2011 and 2008 installed, and the only reason it doesn't have Office 2004 is 'cause 2004 won't bloody work on OS X 10.9. My laptop, sitting in my laptop bag, runs Win 7. It has Office 2003 (and a right pain it was to get that installed) and 2010 (the version I usually use) and 2013 (the version I have to use to deal with a certain customer's stuff). And, yes, I know, Microsoft discourages that kind of thing.
Yes, I do have LibreOffice on both the Mac and the laptop. No, I don't often use it, because LO usually screws up the formatting if the document was created with anything above the most basic level of formatting. Sorry to rain on your parade, man, but that's been my experience. YMMV.
"OpenOffice is great but it barely can hold up with ancient Microsoft Office 2003, let alone 2007 or newer. LibreOffice is even worse, as it's essentially a features whore (why finally getting these annoying bugs fixed when we can have skins!)."
Spoken like somebody who never uses OpenOffice or LibreOffice. In fact, OpenOffice and LibreOffice are horribly glitchy and slow. But they are legally free, and as long as you're aware of their limitations then you can avoid trouble.
The major difference between LibreOffice and OpenOffice is that LibreOffice actually has a community behind it, so it has bug fixes and new features. Apache OpenOffice is the result of Oracle throwing in the towel on any commercial ambitions for OpenOffice, but being unwilling to join a real open-source community. So, they're getting contributions from IBM, but that's about it.
Shortest Support Cycles ?
Ah, you must be one of those that think that Ubuntu=====Linux.
I have news for you, it is NOT the case.
There are other distros that don't throw all their toys out of the pram every 6 months.
A simple search will tell you what they are. I could tell you but it would be a waste of energy.
"Shortest Support Cycles ? Ah, you must be one of those that think that Ubuntu=====Linux. I have news for you, it is NOT the case. There are other distros that don't throw all their toys out of the pram every 6 months."
He said: "So people that complain that their OS is no longer supported after 13 years should switch to a walled garden platform with probably the shortest OS support cycles in the industry?"
Given that you would struggle to describe Linux as a walled garden, I suspect he was talking about MacOS, not Linux.
I forget now how many times I have said in these fora; Linux is not Ubuntu
As for upgrade cycles, yes. This can vary from distro to distro, though as an openSUSE user I normally expect the toys to be chucked about 18 months unless the version is earmarked for Evergreen support in which case it varies from 3 to 4 years (though the choice of version sometimes bugs the crap out of me!)
ISTR Ubuntu has a long term support setup for some versions too.
Well I've upgraded my Macs since pre OS X days, and brought all the data (and Applications, which worked great until Rosetta was dropped in Lion) with me each time. Usually program preferences too. So Microsoft's upgrade path from XP is a bit of a let down. (Do I have to go and find a copy of Vista to install?)
But it's not my friends who are needing my help, it's my Mum. How do I explain to her that all her files would have to be backed up and restored? To her, that would be a sign that she should have continued saving all her Word docs on floppies all these years... Oh well, she has an iPad now, the PC can be relegated to typewriter duties.
"You can't update-and-keep data from early versions of OSX like tiger to 10.9 without buying and installing intermediate OSs first."
Actually... you can. You do a clean install and then import the data (and apps) from your backup. Warning: a lot of the apps may have problems, thanks to Rosetta having been eaten by a Lion. A bunch more got flooded out by the waves of Mavericks. Your data, now, your data's good. And it's easily moved.
Yes, I have machines (two of them...) running Tiger right now. They're due to be retired shortly, as, well, they were never particularly fast (1.25 GHz eMacs) and now they're INCREDIBLY BLOODY SLOW. The data on them will be moved to either Mac minis or iMacs. Pity. I quite liked the eMac design, though apparently I was in a distinct minority.
Yes, but you can't upgrade without moving your data at all, the way you could by moving to the immediate next release.
Since Windows 7 wasn't that much different from Vista, not being able to do this when upgrading directly from XP to 7 was clearly a deliberate money grab by Microsoft. Whether or not there are valid technical reasons in the other cases, I don't know. But people should be free to skip releases - the operating systems should sell on their merits, and they're purchases, not rentals.
Davidoff: "if you do more than writing the occasional letter or doing a simple spreadsheet then there is nothing else than MS Office."
I use office exactly (and exclusively) for writing the occasional letter and for filling forms that arrive in my inbox in the wrong format. For serious work, there is Latex.
I also just migrated my better half from the stupid 'evaluation' MS office to libreoffice. That cut down my service calls greatly, the LO menu bloat seems to be much easier to navigate than the ribbons.
I commend you on the total disregard to your own safety!
Openly speaking such Heresy in these parts will get you bombed with down votes.
No, you must conform to the "fact" that anything MS, oops, I mean M$! is utter crap.
You know whats really odd though, all these people who have allegedly been converted by tech specialists to using Linux and LOVE it more than life its self, and there must be quite a few tech folk if the proportion of Windows haters / users here is anything to go by, all those family and friends now tapping away on a Linux based machine and yet none of them use the internet, its crazy!
Its a very odd situation, because basically the lack of internet usage of all those people means that Windows (as a whole) market share accounts for over 90% of the desktop market, give apple around ~7-8% and the remainder divided up in to others with Linux sitting in there between 1.5-2%
Instead of moaning about how crap windows is perhaps you should get all your friends and family to jump on the internet and become a statistic for Linux bolstering those market shares a bit.
As the commenter above more or less said, Linux has a place, it is useful in many ways, but its not for a huge proportion of people, forcing people in to it on principle is a complete abuse of your position and may bring the reputation down for the rest of us. As professionals you have to weigh up everything, you can not make decisions based on your opinion alone, what i see here on this website is open distaste for anything to do with MS, irrespective of anything else, I seriously hope you don't use such judgment in the real world or I pity your clients.
"You name it, *Nix has got it, and all of it is *Free*."
Two exceptions: games, and AutoCAD.
My single Redmond computing solution only exists to run AutoCAD2K on Win2K (I am not a gamer). That box is air-gapped, for what should be obvious reasons.
I'm a FOSS advocate, but I'm not blind to reality.
I'd say a combination of most of the commercial Unixes dying off, Linux being immature at the time, MS and Sun being the only real alternatives, Solaris being rather expensive and massive bribes from MS. I wouldn't be surprised if the barstewards at Autodesk had their greasy hands in it at well.
>I'd say a combination of most of the commercial Unixes dying off
? I'd said the issue was the end gaming of the PDP-11 and the massive amount of marketing effort MS did in the 90's to enter the embedded market. There were other OS's around that were widely used in the embedded market, but for various reasons the world largely decided to back MS, probably because of the ease of developing on effectively the same platform as the target.
"PLC development environments,"
I've been using PLCs since before microsoft existed. They are controlled via text commands. GUIs are pretty-much overhead, and an obvious point of attack.
"FPGA development software"
"VFD configuration software"
"Engineers are often prisoners of Redmond"
Only if they are idiots. HTH, HAND.
Whilst I avoid MS Windows OS and MS applications in general (my desktop(s) and others are Fedora Linux) I do take issue about PLC and FPGA, and PLA devices and programming. Yes they are 'text-driven', but that's fine as far as it goes. Once you've defined your states, rules and equations and written them all nicely into a (text) file, they have to be compiled - using a tool. The output of that tool is another recognised standard format file. Then you have your device programmer peripheral and its interface; these last two things are often only supplied as or with drivers and packages that are based to run on an MS Windows OS. I don't care much about a GUI for using these, but that's how they're supplied... and I spend enough time designing prototypes such that I don't particularly wish to chuck loads of stuff down the bog and scratch around endless forums to find a new set of tools that just might do what I'm already used to doing. That doesn't make me an idiot: it makes me one of many sensible hardworking Engineers.
VFD -variable frequency drive. Yes you /can/ enter basic parameters through the keypad, but debugging and tuning requires a monitor. And those run on windows.
And are you seriously telling me you can write programmes for a PLC5 or an S7 with some sort of text terminal? Because I doubt that very much.
There are more exceptions than that.
DTP ain't up to the Adobe/Quark level yet, and 2D and 3D CAD and creative drawing ain't up to Corel, Autocad, Rhino3D etc etc.
Then there are the millions of little apps that people use. Sage accounts for example.
If you are smart enough you use virtualisation or Wine, if not you buy windows.
How many home users need AutoCad? If I suggested 0.00001% I might be off by a few places right of the decimal point but not many. Even for business use I've not met anyone who needs CAD on their desktop for over 15 years.
For games there's PS3/4/Vita, Steam, mobile devices, even Mac games and any number of other companies looking to step in to that space with new hardware (Amazon and Samsung to name just 2). No need to pay MS anything for these platforms.
I was doing XP to Win7 rollout for a local council, and 90% of the work was the 10% of systems with AutoCAD, as the version they were using would not run without whole-system administrator privileges, and Eric The Pickle has insisted that councils not spend money on irrelevant fripperies like buying updated software.
Anon for obvious reasons.
1. If users are forced to buy a brand new PC, they will be far more likely to consider an alternative - a MAC or a tablet (not Win 8).
2. Users who do want to persist with Windows are likely to be doing so because they have invested a large amount of time, money and their lives in applications that run on the PC and data locked up in those applications. This forced transition to a new platform, which frequently does not support the original applications (and strongly discorages the use of the original data formats), is abuse of MS's monopoly position, as a means of attempting to shore up revenues from their proprietry technology.
3. MS is positively engendering a digital throaway society - not just gadgets, but data as well. We should be ashamed that old fashioned technologies such as pen and ink will far outlast the information sustainability of which their modern counterparts are capable.
4. The ethics of a product strategy that focuses on the new and shiny rather than on the maintenance and evolution of things that work are highly questionable. The disruption to business and personal users of moving to a new platform is hugely costly. It may generate huge turnover every few years for the IT industry, but the net benefit to the economy and to society of continually starting over, only to reach much the same functionality - a liitle more here, a little less there (albeit re-skinned) - after considerable effort, is minimal. And the industry cannot plead "consumer demand" as mitigation - the industry invests hugely in stimulating this demand.
"We should be ashamed that old fashioned technologies such as pen and ink will far outlast the information sustainability of which their modern counterparts are capable."
Oh no, no, no not at all, your data will be sustained FOREVER. But not on your device and it just... won't belong to you anymore.
First I have to say that I am not a fan of Microsoft - and even less a fan of Apple.
The first part of point 2 is absolutely spot on. The second part though is a complete load of rubbish. Current versions of Office allow almost ANY file data formats including the internationally accepted standards. Any ancient MS Office-saved file can be opened in any version of Office, and all accepted standard formats too.
As for point 3, I rather think that Apple leads the world in encouraging the digital throwaway society - they were among if not the first to install non-replaceable batteries for example.
Point 4 (the first sentence) is a rather concise description of Apple's ethics..
>Any ancient MS Office-saved file can be opened in any version of Office, and all accepted standard formats too.
Obviously haven't had to do this with versions of Office since Office 2003 SP3... otherwise you'd know you can't open say Powerpoint 95 files in Office 2007... And even pre-97 Word documents are problemmatic.
I'd go further and say that opening a MS file you saved five minutes ago can go wrong.
And yet I find MS products useful much of the time. Maybe it's because I am always skeptical of any tools I use. Any run of success just sets you up for a fall. It's always been the case with technology, as in "How do you get these new flint arrowheads to stay on?!"
Eeyore was an optimist.
If the version is too old, then you have to be careful the convertors are installed. (doesn't happen by default).
In my experience it isn't always perfect. In fact (with most files), openoffice does as good a job as the wrong office.
Is it common knowledge that word and powerpoint 97 can use the office 2007 compatibility pack? (excel doesn't work before 2003 sp3) (Never tried 95)
I completely agree, MS simply do not understand how large parts of the rest of the world work. The OS is an unseen tiny part of the ecosystem that either makes things work or breaks them. Printers, scanners, network hardware all add up to an excessive cost. M$ have seen fit, (as have too many stupid vendors) to use their new crappy implementation of an OS to break the relationship with both expensive hardware and software. They should not be surprised that real people who work to pay for things are NOT impressed by the heap of ,(it's unmentionable) that breaks carefully established set ups and delivers a demand for piles of 'learning experience'. Couple that with what is for many a degraded if not degrading experience and it is not surprising that the 'no thanks' club remains popular.
While flavours of UNIX have some appeal, they to would carry the same 'break too many things baggage' as windows H8.
Someone must have a shed load of appreciating Windows 7 copies, I wish I could find the key to the fault, at least most of my hardware can be hacked to work with that last of the line package.
Too many things would not work reliably when I tried to evaluate Win H8 one caused full system resets, while 7 has not missed a step. Mind you when they crippled WinH8 to only run under DEP, I lost the will to fight. I was not going to risk a production personal device on something already found worse than useless.
@Fuzzysteve: My experience is that some older printers work fine with 7 but the vendor couldn't be arsed to make the necessary tweaks (*) for 8 and so they flat out don't even get recognised. However ... my experience is also that those same vendors have a shit driver for Linux so perhaps it is just time for a new printer.
(* Heaven knows what those are, since Win8.1 is kernel version 6.3 and therefore almost the same beast as Win7 (kernel version 6.1), but they managed to break it somehow. Sigh!)
I hate to burst your bubble, but the easiest path to Windows 8.1 (specifically) from anything older than Vista often is a new device - with current hardware, warranty, etc.
Very few people I come across who are still running XP are running a machine that would be happy with Win 8.1 (we're talking single core - maybe with HT - with 1 or 2gb RAM - in the real world, very few people bought high spec XP machines - most normal people bought the cheapest thing they could) without a few choice upgrades. Priced up DDR RAM recently? It ain't cheap because no bugger is making it any more. Throw in a Win 8.1 license and your labour, and you're paying near (or north of in some cases) £200 for a machine that is well over five years old, won't run that nicely anyway, and might not end up being that reliable just down to it's age (yes, I know, depends on the hardware, environment etc - but an older machine will tend to be less reliable than a new one).
Or throw somewhere south of £400 at the problem and get a machine that has warranty, current hardware, better connectivity, and will draw half the power under full load of the old machine at idle.
So yes, new hardware is a better option for many XP diehards who want Windows 8.1
The big question is, do they want Windows 8.1? And that's a different debate entirely. Bang a Linux distro on there and you still have the same speculative hardware reliability problems down the line, but you gain base level stability and security of the OS for the most part, and at least at that point it's only cost them an hours labour/beer and pizza, rather than north of £100 for the OS alone...
My brother runs Ubuntu for interweb and document stuff, and he's fine with it. Means I don't have to be tweeking the machine every ten minutes to remove crapware...
*Pats Multi-install USB pen with Debian, Mint, Ubuntu*
Not a shill, but I do work in the real world with real people. I wish I was a shill, I might be able to afford a newer car. Or at least to fix the broken bits on my car...
"Very few people I come across who are still running XP are running a machine that would be happy with Win 8.1 (we're talking single core - maybe with HT - with 1 or 2gb RAM"
Maybe those that bought their systems in XP's early years, but the 13 years of XP cover a much wider hardware selection than those crappy Pentium4's. For example, most Core 2 Duo PCs probably came with XP, and they will generally run Windows 7 and even Windows 8.1 just fine.
Davidoff, survey of one and all that, but I can count on two hands the number of machines I've seen in the last year that have had a decent Core2Duo in them, are capable of taking more than 2gb of RAM, and also have XP on them. The sort of people who bought high end XP machines like that - and they were high end machines - have already upgraded years ago.
Yes, in the geekerati (IE us lot) there are plenty of holdouts, but in the general retail world, most people bought budget machines ten years ago and never upgraded them because MS kept on extending support and extending support.
Those machines now are no longer fit for purpose for current Windows OSs - and I'm not being hyperbolic in that; a Celeron with 1gb of RAM will not run Windows anything from Vista onwards in any meaningful sense - hence why if you still have XP, and you want to get off of it because of end of support, and you still want Windows, new hardware really is the most sensible way to go in, from what I see, around three quarters of all cases that cross my path.
There is no economically viable way to update a machine like that to run anything newer than XP from MS, period. Hell, bad blocks and XP SP3s larger footprint than SP0 means that even some of those machines are pretty much unusable as it stands for XP itself...there's more of that than you'd believe...!
Also, end of sale on XP was 2010, not 2014 - have a look at when systems with Core2 processors capable of maxing out at more than 2gb RAM started filtering down to the sub £500 price range (I was there, it was towards the end of the decade unless you were spending decent money) and you'll see why most machines still running XP in the retail space, where people spend sod all, need replacing, not upgrading.
I remember speccing machines (DC7800s) in 2008/9 with XP on them - getting a Core2Duo on that was still around £500 per box even then - unless you wanted a celeron or a single core P4 hyperthreading <spits> system, which was about all you could get for under £500, and that was buying 200 of them at a time through a distie for a high school.
And those won't run Win 8 very well either.
Again, survey of one, but believe me, I'm having to explain this to five people a week, and I'm not the only one doing that at my place. And trust me, we'd rather sell a cheap, usable upgrade than tell someone they have to fork over £400 for a new system...
I would disagree on both points. I think that telling someone that "while you are my friend, I can't act as your tech support at the drop of a hat every time you need something, just buy a new sodding computer." is pretty reasonable.
Also, you illustrate the problem with the "popular" Linux distributions - they change every six months. I'm not going to advise my semi-IT-literate friends to install Linux because I'll say install CentOS, then they'll read on the Internet that they should have installed Ubuntu, no Mint, no XYZ distro, etc. you then end up having to keep up to date with all the Linux distros there are and all the different windowing systems.
" I'll say install CentOS, then they'll read on the Internet that they should have installed Ubuntu, no Mint, no XYZ distro, etc."
But everyone here knows that those articles are written by people who *enjoy* the bleeding edge experience of using distro-du-jour, whereas the family and friends that we're speaking to are the exact opposite and would presumably be quite understanding if you explained, "I've chosen CentOS because I believe it will "just work" with no need for you or me to maintain it.".
For someone who needs more than a Chromebook can provide but doesn't need things like video editors, a RHEL clone like CentOS is definitely a great choice. XP users clearly don't embrace change so an ultra stable distro like CentOS is the perfect choice. It doesn't break and it will be supported for a very long time, Redhat intends to support RHEL 6.x for another six or seven years. The user interface of the 6 series is Gnome 2 which is menu based so XP users won't be confused. If they got their copies of MS Office at the same time as they got XP then they are going to be on Office 2K, 2003 or 2007. The UI of OpenOffice is very similar to the classic versions of MS Office, certainly much much closer than the current UI on MS Office is.
An old XP machine is likely to be a bit old and naff and unlikely to have the horsepower to run Windows 8 effectively.
I've tried converting people to Linux before but they always run into problems with propriety devices, media etc, compatibility etc so I usually just recommend a Mac when it comes to them getting a new machine, I help them get all their data across and after a little bit of handholding to get them started they never have to ask me for help again. My family members that are still using Windows plague me with 'can you look at my laptop?!' questions on a monthly basis.
Why are about 1/3 of desktops still on XP? Because the 3 OS releases since then do not offer enough value for people and organizations to upgrade. Especially considering that a lot of households and businesses are still cash-strapped after the "Great Recession".
If I could avoid MS' lawyers, I would happily help to start up an OS vendor that could produce a humane upgrade from XP. You could count on 20%-30% of the market and you would be the computing hero of the common man, and you would probably have a big future market in emerging and frontier markets.
>what that 20-30% want is continuing support for XP
This is where MS's chosen business model falls apart. MS decided to effectively bundle bug fixes and updates for 10+ years in the purchase price, rather than do as AV and other vendors do and charge an annual fee for the updates.
So actually what MS need to do is release an upgraded license key which replaces a user's existing licence key and so entitles them to continuing support for another n years, where n is a range of numbers, each with a price attached that is affordable to home users. However, I suspect this level of business thinking is beyond the abilities of TPTB in Redmond.
I always tell them I make websites for a living... if they want help with their website I will see what I can do but I can't help them with their rubbish laptop.
Luckily none of them have ever taken me up on the offer of helping with a website!
"I always tell them I make websites for a living... if they want help with their website I will see what I can do but I can't help them with their rubbish laptop."
I wish I could get away with something like that - but the problem is my mob (family in particular) have known me since long before computers were something the average Joe (i.e. they) could either afford or would even want. For me, they'd see it as the lie it is.
Funnily enough, though, on the subject of this slightly odd MS 'advice', I was fiddling with an XP machine yesterday, and I drew a somewhat cynical conclusion about something in the OS.
Specifically, the battery supporting the RTC had died - so whenever the computer started, XP would throw up an error about the clock not being set, and it was defaulting to 1/1/1980 (or 1/1/1980 for the benefit of any Overpuddlian readers).
The computer's owner (in fact my step dad, who I had let have the machine for a small sum when I resurrected it recently, when it seemed to be working fine) got a bit worried - understandably, given that he doesn't do technology at all - when he visited a website after the clock stopped working, and Firefox threw up a big scary warning about an invalid certificate.
I looked at the clock settings, and made sure it was set to synchronise with a time server - which I thought would solve the problem. It wouldn't do so, though, complaining that it couldn't synchronise the time, because the date was wrong.
My first thought? Piss poor programming: It should be setting the date as well as the time as part of that process. I then installed nettime, which does exactly that. So XP now throws up an error about the clock while booting, but once it's booted and connected to the internet, nettime puts the clock right.
My second, more cynical thought? I wondered if MS had deliberately opted not to only set the time, and fail to do even that if the date is wrong, so users of machines in that situation would go out and buy a new computer, which would (most likely) have a new copy of Windows on, thus equating to one more copy sold for them.
Meanwhile, the big scary warning has sufficiently frightened my step dad enough that he doesn't want the computer back, because I can't get it through to him that the big scary warning was the computer thinking there was something wrong with the website, rather than the website warning him that there was a security problem on the computer, which is what he thinks, so I've paid him back the sum he paid me for it.
Instead, he intends to look at second hand computers, and wants me to glance at any he might consider to see if they're okay - which means even more of my time. And I have to try to explain to him that the sort of once over I can give a computer in that situation isn't really sufficient, so I can't guarantee that a computer that I think seems to be okay after spending n minutes with it in someone's house, or a shop selling second hand tat, won't turn out to be a complete lemon when it's being used "properly".
"While 2nd hand used to be cost effective, right now with sub £300 laptops available, its barely worth the time if all you use it for is the internet."
Funnily enough, I've just got off the phone to him - he rang to ask me about a computer in a second hand shop: £150 for a Win7 machine, which comes with a free penny. He gave me some of the specs, as listed on the display, and I had to explain (not for the first time) that while they don't sound too bad, it doesn't mean a jot about what the computer is like, because you don't know where it's been, what it's been treated like, etc.
I suggested, as you rightly point out, that if you're going to pay that much, you may as well consider new. He can't really afford to go to £300, but I took a quick look online at his local Currys (I know, I know - but he'd rather buy and have now than wait for something to be delivered) and found a couple of Chromebooks at just under £200. A Chromebook is probably ideal for his needs - which is nothing more than a bit of browsing.
Whether he'll actually go for one, I don't know, but I've managed to persuade him to at least wait until I've finished work, and I'll pop over to look at them with him.
No, you're not. I try to generally avoid getting involved into tech support for consumers, no matter if it's for friends or not (the exception being my close family of course). Giving some advice is fine, but the time lost on 'support tasks' and the headaches involved are just not worth it.
Don't know about anyone else, but I find the fact that my friends and family think that because I can code, I can sort out all their computer woes...
... or at least, they used to - until I "accidentally" bricked a couple of their machines after strenuously protesting that "I don't do hardware/OSes" and continually being rebuffed with "but it can't be that hard, can it?"
Nowadays, most of them have got wise. I still have to brick a machine every couple of years, but most of the time, I don't get any grief. Repeated reading of BOFH has taught me well...
.... nasty for what you have suggested. A real friend would just get them a new HD, install what ever they want on the new HD, put the XP drive in the second HD slot/caddy and VirtualBox/VM the apps off the XP install.
If you aren't that fond of them then thats when you tell them to buy a new pc no matter the issue.
I tell my friends to migrate over to Linux instead? Converted three people to Ubuntu and will happily convert more. The only reason I still have one or two Windows PC (and even then running Win7, I refuse to touch Win8 especially after it's racist side reared it's ugly head in the form of region locking on the XBox Games folder) is because some game companies won't develop for Linux and put in all sorts of stupid DRM to make their game fail in Wine (I'm looking at you, EA!). Will happily dump Win7 for good once M$ discontinues Win7 support. As for game companies like ActiBlizz and EA, well, if you want to continue receiving my monies, support Linux!
During the Vista era.
So of course it is on XP Pro.
Still pretty good PC.
1TB of data on it roughly (mainly AVI)
Can't go backwards due to NTFS
Can't go forwards due to application compatability
If I have to lose the ability to run quite a few things, I may as well lose a couple more and go for a free OS.
Main thing stopping me moving would be video editing and BluRay burning.
Assuming everyone here is like me (Big assumption, I know) When I am at work, or at a conference I wear my "Professional" hat. I don't slag off on companies or products. I will, at most, offer an opinion of features or aspects of a product.
With friends or on El Reg Fora, I am wearing my "informal" hat, and can vent spleen, wax hyperbolic, and condemn the developers of a product to the eternal flames for missing a trivial feature that I happen to like.
Most of my friends that really need a full-blown desktop or laptop are perfectly capable of their own support and have trodden the path from XP to 7 and then applied the brakes. The rest are just occasional browsers, e-mailers, and online shoppers and only got desktops/laptops because that was all there was at the time. They have mostly now got Nexus 7s and require less hand-holding than they did with XP. One got persuaded by a shop to get an iPad, so I've told her to go back to the shop to sort out her lost e-mails or any other problems as I don't speak the language. Just over half of the tech savvy group on 7 also dual boot Mint, with a lone Ubuntu holdout (actually likes the default colour scheme!!!).
I wouldn't inflict 8.1 on any family and friends, I'd only have to do more support anyway. For those already with 8, I updated them to 8.1, put Classic Shell on, changed the file types to the desktop programs and told them to grin and bear it.
For those already with 7, I said stick with 7. The message seems to have stuck.
For those with XP, I keep them updated and install Firefox and LibreOffice. When the plug is finally pulled, Linux Mint is there waiting for them to carry on where XP left off (unless they go mad and do an Ubuntu, which I doubt).
For the new shiny kit there are Android tablets and iDevices.
Redmond seems to be staring over the edge of a precipice. They can't force people to go their way when the only choice they give is Windows 8.
I had to downgrade windows 8.1 from windows 8's 'painful' to a 'mildly annoying'. Once set to boot to desktop and you have your files associated with decent applications it's pretty good, very similar to 7, but faster. I love the 5-10 second boot.
A proper start menu would make it great, but the search seems to work quite well. I just hate having to use the search for everything when logically laid out menus would make it easier to just go straight to things.
I do have a touchscreen laptop, but i still hate the 'start' screen.
Yeh for most of us it will continue
XP is a known and well supported OS
Friends and Family tech Support is usually paid for with Beer/free Drugs ( definitely not TAX Reportable)
Now Microsuck want to remove this valuable undeclared perk.
don't they realize that we are still in recession cash is tight we have to pay tax (most of us don't have the offshore double dutch Irish sandwich option for avoiding tax)
There is NO CORPORATE CASH AVAILABLE( with the usual tax write off) FOR upgrading family computers
its all about the beer
Got to say there's absolutely no way I'll be helping anybody upgrade from XP to 8.1. MS are right, if something came with XP originally then it's probably going to be 8 years old or more and isn't going to be too happy running Windows 8.1. However I won't be advising them to buy new hardware. If they want their OS upgrading I'm much more likely to point them at Windows 7.
Despite Microsoft's best efforts you can still pick up a valid Windows 7 licence from ebay or elsewhere. Used one recently. And the advantage of 7 for most users is that the experience is close enough to that of XP that they won't find it a wrench. And Vista licences are even cheaper. Actually it's no so bad, certainly no worse than XP.
But even Windows 7 is likely to be hard work for some older hardware. So unless the user has some Windows specific applications they can't give up (games maybe) I'm likely to gently point them down a Linux route.
Look at my two alternatives and you'll note that neither of them shove a single penny in Microsoft's direction. It's not that I'm deliberately trying to deprive MS of income, more that no XP user actually *needs* to upgrade to 8.1 (or 8). What they need to do in the next couple of months is move away from XP.
For the amount of time I spent attempting to get my Dad's old laptop working, it would have been cheaper for me to buy him a new laptop.
He bought it on a car-boot sale for £100. It was a Fujitsu Pentium 4 (yes, the desktop processor) running on a really obscure chipset with no up-to-date drivers. XP barely ran properly on it.
I eventually persuaded him to fork out for a new laptop, which I sourced for him. It's been a lot quieter on the support front since.
...except that because he insists on using Windows, and he clicks 'yes' on any prompt which pops up, the amount of crap installed on there after a month of me not clearing it out for him is unbelievable. He's installed programs which install other programs as part of their uninstall procedure! His windows explorer tool bar takes up half the screen with plug-ins he's inadvertently installed.
What can you do though when it's one of your parents...? :/
What can you do though when it's one of your parents...? :/
Recommend they let you have an admin account on the computer, and that they run it only as a user.
It means they'll need you to install/update any software, but IME that's a whole lot less hassle than sorting out the mess they make otherwise.
so pre windows95 (19 years ago) WFWG on floppy? same computer just upgraded/replaced motherboard/ram/processor/cards/optical drives/storage/case and PSU
reminds me of Trigger and his 20 year old brush, had 7 new handles and 5 new heads but still the same broom.
The reality of things is that if you have friends/family that are still running XP it's because the computer they have is running things perfectly fine.
The reality of things is that you probably have zero friends/family that have ever had a need to call up Microsoft for support on anything so they really don't see what the big deal about official support for XP ending in the first place, and they'll happily keep on going as long as they can find an anti-virus program that runs on XP. (But the secret reality of that is most of your friends/family are use a free anti-virus that is more than three years old already, and the truth is simply that they don't do anything so exciting as to even need bother with it.)
The reality of things is that even if that old XP machine isn't running so hot anymore, all you really need to do is reinstall XP, probably just a simple factory restore, and don't do the Service Pack upgrades unless their other software demands it. Without the newer service packs the hardware requirements for XP go way down. Remember how when XP came out only serious gamers used even 128MB of memory? But with Service Pack 3 256MB will barely let you boot up?
The final reality of things is that if your friends/family are still running XP the odds are really, really good that they would be much happier with any sort of tablet. As for me, two of my six gaming PCs still run XP and I'm quite happy with them; though I'm contemplating upgrading them to Windows 7 while it's still available.
"But the secret reality of that is most of your friends/family are use a free anti-virus that is more than three years old already, and the truth is simply that they don't do anything so exciting as to even need bother with it."
I like it. It's amazing how many PCs out there are riddled with badware without their user's knowledge. The sad thing however is how many people think they are protected. Go onto the interwebs and look for reviews of free AV. How many of them say "This is the best AV on the market. I haven't had a single virus since I installed it*." When what they mean is "it hasn't detected a single virus since I installed it."
Only last month I had to deal with a new buid PC that had Avast free installed and in one week had amassed seven samples of badware in total. The user spotted it because their homepage had changed and wouldn't change back.
* Actually the grammar and spelling is usually a lot worse than that and it usually contains more upper case.
...don't do the Service Pack upgrades unless their other software demands it. Without the newer service packs the hardware requirements for XP go way down.
Now that's what I call ignoring reality... Why not make sure you're running IE5 as well?
Remember how when XP came out only serious gamers used even 128MB of memory? But with Service Pack 3 256MB will barely let you boot up?
128Mb? Come on, I was using more RAM than that with Windows 98.
DDR and DDR2 isn't exactly expensive - there's no excuse for any XP user not to have maxed out on RAM.
"Remember how when XP came out only serious gamers used even 128MB of memory? But with Service Pack 3 256MB will barely let you boot up?
128Mb? Come on, I was using more RAM than that with Windows 98."
When first released, Windows XP Professional had a minimum RAM requirement of 64MB, with 128MB recommended. And 64MB of RAM was a couple hundred dollars so 64MB was all most home computers had. Service Pack One basically doubled those requirements and by Service Pack 3 anything less than 256MB was basically unusable, and 256MB was not usable for much.
"If clearly one reader has already stated it was still on sale 4 years ago ergo its quite a different animal than the 13 year old version in much the same sense as the difference between 8 and 8.1."
It doesn't matter how long it was up for sale, the fact is that Windows XP is on the market for now almost 13 years with very little change under the hood (the updates were mostly bug fixes and security patches, with few feature updates). Even with all the updates and Service Packs it still represents 2001 technology.
OK I'll shamefacedly admit to a machine running XP. It's my media server which is my excuse. Most of the time I don't even think of it as a computer, it's just a domestic appliance. It sits upstairs serving up music and video when called upon to do so and nothing else.
The reason it runs XP is simple. It's an old Intel SE720TP1-E server board and has run XP from new. I never had need to upgrade to Vista, 7 or 8 because it still does the job. Likewise I see no need to upgrade to XP. It's has 4GB of RAM and a 3GHz Prescott so the hardware is more than up to the task at hand, so there's absolutely no need to replace it.
So finally there's a need to replace the OS. However it puzzles me that MS think there are only two ways to proceed; to upgrade the OS to 8.1; or replace the hardware with something running 8.1. There are at least two others; upgrade to a version of Windows other than 8.1; or replace Windows with something else altogether. I'll be choosing the latter. Luckilly for me Plex is available for Linux and will even just pick up my existing media folders.
I've never had any problems with XP. But then, that's could be because I have seperate Admin and normal users, and only ever log on as Admin once in a blue moon to do Admin stuff.
When I bought the PC it came set as Admin-All-Areas, and I had to spend the first few hours with it fixing it to a proper system. Since then, no problems.
... to Win7. I actively, verbally and rather aggressively tell them not to go anywhere near Win 8.
One family member decided to buy a surface 2 (I know, I know). I haven't spoken to her about it since, despite it having all kinds of problems and her hatred of the UI.
"I told you so." Didn't help the initial request for help.
I saw a few "upgrade to Linux" posts here - I'm a graphics programmer, but recently our company had to set up some cloud networking type stuff. We decided to try Linux, as its instances were cheaper than those running Windows Server, and I'm always hearing how much better it is.
We couldn't make it work for love nor money. We used the default ubuntu 12 distro supplied by the cloud vendor, enabled nfs, and shared a few directories. We followed the instructions, and it all worked, but the fileserver machine kept running out of ram. Its ram usage would just shoot up, for no good reason that I could see until the machine gave up and hung. We had a swap partition, and 4GB of ram. And it wasn't under anything like a heavy load, and the only other thing it was running was an ftp client. Asked the cloud company's tech. support about it, and their best guess was a kernel bug. What a pile of arse.
Switched to Windows server in the end. I know, I know, Micro$oft blah blah. But at least it worked. At least it didn't run out of ram every 10 minutes. As I mentioned previously, what a pile of arse.
A lot of that post sounds like the unfounded rants you hear about Windows.
The problem with this sort of anecdotal evidence is that it's no evidence at all. So you had problems installing and running a particular Linux distro running particular application. Does that tell us that there are problems with Linux? It just tell us that you had problems.
Could be you. Could be the hardware. Could be a driver. Could be the vendor.
The vendor blamed an unspecified and undocumented kernel bug and you just took their word for it? That just shows that neither you nor the vendor knows the first thing about Linux. Sounds like the sort of vendor that blames antivirus software whenever their application won't run properly on Windows.
The vendor recommended a particular distro of Linux, but doesn't actually bother offering any support for it? Sounds like a real professional setup you're dealing with there.
You say you used "the default install of Ubuntu 12"? Interesting since there was never a Ubuntu 12. There's a 12.04 and a 12.10, they're not version numbers but the dates from Ubuntu's 6 month release cycle. Do you even know if you installed 12.04 or 12.10? And with such limited knowledge should you really be installing an OS for business use?
The thing is that I've heard people tell similar stories about Windows when 99% of the time there ware nothing wrong with Windows, the problem usually lay with the application(s), a driver or the numpty doing the installation.
The thing is that operating systems, like cars, domestic appliances and most other things just work these days. That applies to Windows, Linux and virtually everything else.
Hi Grease Monkey
Firstly, as you say, I am relatively uninformed about Linux - I think it was version 12.04. We were very aware of the details at the time, but having moved on I couldn't swear to it now. I don't think that ought to matter though. It's version 12.x not version 0.x, and it should've worked. And believe it or not, we're not idiots - we tried lots of different things, and worked with the Cloud providers tech guys.
"with such limited knowledge should you really be installing* an OS for business use?"
Apparently not. Apparently on Linux, it requires specialist knowledge to stably share some files over a network, without the server running out of ram every 10 minutes. Windows Server seems to be able to manage it though - and I don't have any special knowledge of Windows networking either.
It seems to me that there's a tendency to glory in Linux's arcane ins and outs. Good geeky fun, no doubt - but sometimes one just wants it to work.
*For the record, we never installed Linux, it was a preexisting VM image, which had been set up by the cloud provider. As I said, all we did was share a few directories via nfs.
I see two things here to point out. First off, Ubuntu's a turd. It always has been. They pull the experimental branch of Debian (one step below the 'unstable' branch in the stability tree) to create a new version every six months or so and hack the heck out of it trying to fix the bugs (or rather that's what they did last time I cared enough to check. They may have changed their process by now, but it certainly hasn't improved the end product). This doesn't make for a good choice of distro for any kind of enterprise application. RHEL or SUSE Enterprise edition are the go-to distros for that sort of thing, with CentOS being not far behind. If you have experience with Linux there are other distros that work well for it, but I would never recommend Ubuntu in a corporate setting. Honestly how it got the following it has is beyond me.
That said, the bug you're describing was not a problem with Ubuntu itself. It's bad, but not that bad. Since you were using a pre-generated image from your vendor I'm guessing they screwed up either the image or the VM settings.
Disclaimer: Yes, I'm a Linux geek, but I tell people to use what works for them. If Windows works for you, use Windows. You're set up and running with it now, so don't take this post as a suggestion that you should give Linux another go. All I ask of anyone is that they make an informed choice, and I try to help people with that.
It properly wasn't Linux eating your memory, it very well could be a bug in the server software which has a memory leak, or an infinite loop, or more likely you've set something up wrong by accident. When I first used linux I had to re-install it a bunch of times because I'd mess something up.
On a tech website its not surprising that your seeing a lot of people saying Linux is better than Windows, because from their point of view it is. I love linux and I think its better than Windows, but my main OS is Windows 7, why? because its easier to set things up at the push of a button, and also most of my games are still only native to Windows.
I'm sure you're right. Although there was literally NO software on there, that wasn't in the existing installation - we hadn't changed a thing.
I agree with you about techies on sites such as this enjoying getting their hands dirty with the inticacies of Linux - I'm the same with different tech areas - but from an outsider's perspective it was frustratingly (and surprisingly) hard to do something really quite basic!
"Its ram usage would just shoot up, for no good reason that I could see until the machine gave up and hung"
Can't imagine what this was. I've used Linux versions for file/print/media serving purposes since the mid-90s and never seen anything like that. In fact my file/print server has only failed once in all that time and that was hardware (MB capacitor). The current physical machine is a dual-core Atom (for low power as it runs all the time) with 2GB memory - apart from a little hardware upgrade and reboots for new kernels/OS versions it's been running non-stop for 3+ years. I've never even heard of nfsd behaving like this - anyone else ?
As for arcane installation requirements I've just upgraded 1 netbook, 2laptops, a desktop and the fileserver to OpenSUSE 13.1 without any issues apart from a systemd related issue with CUPS (now solved). The install to one laptop was to a new quad core i7 from a USBLive pendrive and took 7-8 mins.
Now I'm not an IT prof. and I can understand a business wanting a prof. supplied solution but I can't imagine what sort of cowboys supplied your system.
It's been my policy for something like a decade that I'm happy to support peoples' PCs, provided that they are bought from Apple and run a recent version of OS X. I'll support as far back as 10.6. OS X on Apple hardware "just works", without having to worry about hardware compatibility or arsing about with obscure configuration parameters, which is good from the support point of view. And all the applications that a normal person would want are available, which is good from a user's point of view.
No, I don't give a toss about video games on a PC. The iPhone and iPad are much better gaming platforms, and if you must have FIFA Call of Grand Theft Halo LVII then get a Playstation 360 or whatever it's called this week.
This doesn't tell us anything about PCs or operating systems, it tells us about you. You are a grumpy self important arse.
The thing about doing tech support for your friends or family is that you're doing it out of love and/or friendship. If you dictate to your friends and family like that then I doubt you have any concept of love or friendship. I'd also be surprised if you have any friends.
Somebody says to me "I've just bought this set top box and I'm having trouble getting to to work with my TV." I reply that I'll pop round and see what I can do, because I'm a nice guy. I don't tell them to take it back to the shop and buy my preferred brand. Or refuse to do it because I don't like the brand.
And your insistence on not helping people out with gaming PCs because you don't like games on PCs? That's like me refusing to help a neighbour set up a series record for Eastenders because I don't like soap operas.
If one of my friends went round telling me what I could and could not buy and still rely upon their friendship then they wouldn't be my friend any longer. A friend in need and all that.* Friendship should not come with terms and conditions.
We help people because we're nice people who like to help. We'll even help out with stuff we've never seen before, just to be nice. And attitude like yours only goes to show that you're not a nice or sociable person.
*BTW the point of that maxim is that if you are still somebody's friend when they are in need of your help then you must be true friends. Or indeed somebody who remains your friend when you are in need must be a true friend. So let's not have any of that "a friend in need is a pain in the arse" stuff. Anybody who says that is a true pain in the arse.
I'm a bit of the opposite. For Friends & family, I'll try to help with *NIX, Windows, set-top Boxes, phones, robotic sheep, etc. But Nothing with a fruity logo. Friends with Apple gear get picked on, family with apple gear get referred to my sister, who does work on Apple stuff professionally.
In a workplace environment I will give Apple support my best shot, but like with the Robotic sheep, I am not an expert and most of my efforts follow the XKCD Tech Support Cheat Sheet
> BTW anyone advocating using Ubuntu, should think about Linux Mint instead, it's how Ubuntu
> should be.
Whatever Mint should be that Ubuntu isn't is only an apt-get away...
I really don't understand why people continue to think the gui and the OS are one. I suspect this is a result of being milk-fed Windows at an early age. I personally use Xmonad, but would use Unity more if not for the low spec of the netbook I have Ubuntu on. It has been more usable with each recent release.
See, this is the sort of post that confuses the hell out of me. My 8+ year old XP PC has been dying for months so yesterday I ordered a new Win7 PC. I'm not an IT pro but I would love to partition it and install some sort of Linux on a dual boot (for normal, non-gaming home use, so the other current article on dual-booting is u/s) in order to learn it - and who knows, move over to it wholesale once I'm comfortable with it. But comments like this (and I've read thousands on El Reg) are disheartening - I find it very much like music fan snobbery or real ale geekiness (I've been guilty of both, so hold the downvotes) which just go to put off enthusiastic amateurs. I haven't got a clue where to start, who to believe, what to download, or what half of it means.
Why not buy a spare hard drive (I get mine at NewEgg), swap out your Windows drive and install Linux on the new.drive. You can always go back to Windows by swapping drives again. It's really quite easy -- I'd suggest Mint 15 Mate, just download the CD image and burn to a CD, then power down, swap out the hard drive and boot from the CD.
You could even try it on the old XP machine first...
I can understand your frustration, hope the below steps can help.
Get a USB data pen, 4gb if possible but 2gb will do at a pinch
download http://www.linuxliveusb.com/ and install on windows
You can run LiLi and select a distro to download and install direct to usb or download your own and use LiLi to create a boot usb pen drive, some examples distros in no particular order
Boot from USB & play for a bit, try a few different distros and see if any of them suite you, if so then you can think about going dual boot. It's a bit like real ale, you have to try a few to find the ones you really like and every F*&^er is an expert once they have tried a few :-)
Hope that helps a bit
>> See, this is the sort of post that confuses the hell out of me.
If you install one of the *Buntu variants (Xubuntu, Mint, Ubuntu, Kubuntu) the install will take care of all dual boot partitioning for you automatically. The only thing you need to do is put the downloaded iso image of the distro on a cd or pen drive and boot to it. Can't get any easier than that.
Who is actually advising there friends and family to upgrade to windows 8? I'll ask another question, who's telling people to get new computers with windows 8 on them?
Anyone who is tech savvy, and has friends and family asking them to look at their computer, or asking advice about operating systems will always (or at least I hope everyone is) recommending Windows 7, or Linux.
I don't think he gets that some of the people haven't upgraded for one simple reason, they know how to use what they've got... I have a granddad who still uses a 233mhz thinkpad running windows 3.5 and not office but lotus 1-2-3.
From a technician stand point as well, who wants spend their time trying to explain to people how to use Windows 8, not only do we not have the time but we don't want to.
>> Who is actually advising there friends and family to upgrade to windows 8? I'll ask another question, who's telling people to get new computers with windows 8 on them?
No one, that's why M$ is bemoaning us ;) No techy worth his salt would recommend Windozze 8 (double z because it's even worse than previous incarnations).
>>Anyone who is tech savvy, and has friends and family asking them to look at their computer, or asking advice about operating systems will always (or at least I hope everyone is) recommending Windows 7, or Linux.
I don't recommend WIndows 7 for an XP PC because of the system requirements. Something like Xubuntu or Lubuntu would probably be better if an upgrade is desired. But I agree with the Linux bit. It also seems silly to go out and waste a load of money on a new PC with Windoze, when Linux runs great on older hardware.
>> From a technician stand point as well, who wants spend their time trying to explain to people how to use Windows 8, not only do we not have the time but we don't want to.
I fixed a PC for a family friend recently who got infected with malware. He had bought a brand new high end laptop with Windoze 8, and was infected with rootkits and other nasties within 2 weeks. Not only that, but even after purging all the crap, it runs slow as hell. Windows is just bloated and slow. He wanted something faster, so I installed Xubuntu for him. Safe to say he's extremely pleased with the result. Malware is a thing of the past for him. He can now safely do his banking online without worrying about keyloggers or other nasty stuff.
"If your mates want an upgrade, get 'em to buy a new PC says Microsoft..."
... which definitely doesn't get a cut of the price of every new PC sold. So entirely disinterested then.
Microsoft are just admitting that their newest OSes won't run very nicely on old hardware from the beginning of the XP era.
Microsoft licenses Windows relatively cheaply to mass-market OEMs, and so makes less money on each of these licences than on an end-user upgrade licence -- and if someone buys a new PC rather than upgrading they might buy a Mac or a Chromebook instead of a Windows box -- so Microsoft are certainly not giving this advice to maximize their chances of profit.
Well ... they may think they are, but if so they haven't thought it through very well.
So, I actually had to do this the other day, a friend used some High Street shopping vouchers to buy a new PC from Argos. It came with Windows 8, obviously he wanted as much as possible copying across from his XP machine. I turned to File Transfer Wizard, it wan on Windows 8, asked me where I wanted to transfer from, I created a share on the old PC and dumped the XP version of the program there, and ran it - the machines spoke to each other and Windows 8 eventually said there was 12.1GB it would transfer from the old machine, on a gigabit network - I thought great that'll do nicely. 6 Hours later it had only transferred 11% and the progress bar hadn't moved for about an hour. I thought fine, I'll do it manually. Pulling the files from the old computer to the new the copying dialog said it was calculating the remaining time, the network graph in the copying dialog said 22.1kbs and it didn't seem to be doing anything, even after 20 minutes. I tried doing it the other way around PUSHING the files from the old computer to the new and it took 6 minutes.
In between setting up the computer for him, it of course downloaded a ridiculous amount of updates and I told it download Windows 8.1 as well, I thought there was no point in teaching him how to use the computer with Windows 8 if Windows 8.1 was going to change things enough that I would have to teach him again. 3.2GB?! Are you kidding me?! Has Microsoft ever heard of Delta Updates?!
Anyway 48 hours later the machine was (almost) ready to use. Now we just had to fill in a captcha and wait for a verification code on his mobile before we could even log in to the machine?! Yes Microsoft, this is REALLY making it very very easy for people to use the computer :/
I've done plenty of upgrades and transferring of data to a new machine in my time, but this.... this was the most backward, hellish experience I have ever had - thank god I haven't given up smoking yet or that machine would of been thrown out of the nearest window.
As for hardware, a philips spc230nc webcam is detected by Windows 8.1 and it does attempt to install it, but the light never goes off and the Windows "issues" center says an updated driver is available and we should click to install it, and it downloads the bloody same driver we have already downloaded!
......and Microsoft wonders why people don't want to leave Windows XP.
My 8 year old daughter surfs the Web, plays Minecraft, and also plays a couple of old Windows PC games. XP is the perfect OS for her. I took an older motherboard (but it beat the Pentium III processor she had previously), threw it in, formatted the hard drive, and had it up and running in an hour. Great driver support, she's used to the GUI, and everybody is happy.
Prior to that, she was running XP with no anti-virus software. I did a USB-boot virus scan prior to me formatting the drive just to see what I would find, and she had no malware of any kind. And if her current system did get hacked, all they'd find is her saved games from My Little Pony and Minecraft. Not a big deal.
" And if her current system did get hacked, all they'd find is her saved games from My Little Pony and Minecraft. Not a big deal."
Just one point. The problem is not what *they* find on her system. The problem is what *she* (or the local plod) finds on her system after *they* have been using it for a few weeks.
She did run in admin mode. Though this weekend when I did the reinstall I made her a limited user. So far so good, she used to play a game that had to run with her as admin, but she doesn't play that game anymore. Her other games seem to be behaving so far.
There's this weird Y2K panic happening with XP. As long as you stick to well known web sites, don't open e-mails from people you don't know, and run an anti-virus and maybe firewall software, it's extremely unlikely you're going to get infected.
This is a bit of a crap thing to say. So according to Microsoft, because they didn't make an upgrade path possible due to market reasons, so that the channel can sell more PC's and devices basically, they don't want you to waste your time backing files up (surely best practice would dictate they are already backed up!!??) and then helping your friend move to windows 8.1 and presumably hate Microsoft for a situation that they themselves have forced you to go through by not making an upgrade path. Surely the simpler option is to help your friend, and just be pissed off Microsoft made it so hard.
They seem to want you to screw your friends over to avoid you wasting your time in a situation they created, all so that you don't hate them too much.
Apologies if this point has been made - I did skim through all four pages of responses of switch to Linux, switch to Mac (both might be valid arguments, but not the point I'm making) etc without seeing it...
Fair enough, I can understand 'get a new PC' because one that was sold running XP (assuming a home machine, not a business machine and therefore likely to have been provided with XP for as long as possible) is at least 5 years old (probably 7 since resellers starting shipping consumer PCs with Vista) may not be up to the job. Seems wasteful if the hardware works but I accept that the argument can be made.
However, I can't accept the argument as a reason for buying a new PC, that if you upgrade you'd need to find your application install disks and license codes, that you'd need to backup your files and restore them. Surely you'd need to do this if you went and bought a new PC anyway - it won't magically have your applications or data.
So maybe they're advocating that you go and buy new copies of Office and other applications too - and presumably just throw away your old photos, files etc rather than transfer them as clearly they're old and useless?
Or that you buy a new PC, but that you keep using your old XP one rather than upgrade it as that's the one that has your applications and files...
Or that you buy a new one, but then have to do exactly the same steps to install your applications and transfer your data that you'd have to do if you upgraded.
That is the thing, a 5 year old or 7 year old computer is likely to fail at any time.
And when it fails it will probably be the hard drive that fails.
Most home users and SOHOs do not have through complete backups.
And the unplanned emergency installation and configuration of a new computer with a new OS is going to take 2 working days minimum.
So from the consumer point of view it makes sense to buy a new computer if the old computer is more than 3, maybe 5 years old.
New hard drives are cheap. Why buy a whole computer if it just nees a new hard drive? Many of the computers I support are over 3 years old. They do the job just fine. You don't need a quad-core with 16G of RAM to surf the web and send emails.
I buy off-lease commercial-grade machines from resellers ($200-$400) and install Linux. Sure, not everyone's cup of tea, but it beats getting consumer-grade cr@p from Best Buy.
I have several friend who have been quite happy with the Linux upgrades I helped them with. In fact the few I have who've taken that route are happier with Linux than the one who ran out and bought a Windows 8 machine against my advice (which was "I'll help you upgrade to 7 or set up Linux for you if you don't want to spend the money, but for the love of all that's holy stay away from Windows 8") I found the article on the subject (linked in this article) to be very uninformed about Linux. (The bit about Ubuntu 'missing Minecraft' was particularly jarring. You install Minecraft on Linux the exact same way you do on Windows: log into your account on minecraft.com, download it, and run it. The fact that it's a paid-for product keeps it out of repositories like Ubuntu's Software Centre that lack a mechanism to pay for apps, something I would expect any tech literate parent to understand immediately.)
>> But Redmond doesn't want you spending weekends or evenings doing XP-to-Windows-8.1 upgrades. “The easiest path to Windows 8.1 is with new devices,” the post intones.
I won't. I'll be installing Xubuntu/Mint etc instead. Users don't have to worry about increasing system requirements, or costly upgrades, and I don't have to worry about malware or Winrot then, so Win-Win, or Loss-Loss for Microsoft.
What about WIN 95 support? Will I be able to play my copy of Keef the Thief on Win 8?
Just kidding, but it makes the point. We are talking about computer OS's here - not game consoles. When the latest hot console comes out, and you find out it won't play the old games, you have to buy new games. No business wants to replace their WIN XP dedicated software, just to get MS's new shiny OS.
I would love to see a all-versions version of Windows, with versions of 7, XP, even 95, that run in a sandbox, with perfect emulation of the old OS's. Why is the phrase "backward compatability" such a taboo subject at MS?
And about WIN8 - touch screens and fried chicken are a bad combination.
Why is the phrase "backward compatability" such a taboo subject at MS?
It's rare that I come to the defense of MS, but it is my believe that anyone who asks that particular question has never tried to implement backward compatibility. If you think Windows is bloated now just wait till they start trying to support everything that ever ran on any version of Windows.
Once REAL users (not the geeky types who "must" have the latest gizmos) are forced onto a new operating system, new applications, new version of Office, etc. they will be flocking in droves to their friends (or family) with questions such as how do I ... open this file that I coould open before / run this application that is no longer supported / find where the button / menu item to do X has been moved / etc.
We, who DO provide support for friends and family, are the ones who will bear the brunt of forced and unwanted change to new hardware, operating system and software.
And many, many users, not having a smooth evolutionary path from XP to the latest stuff, will look elsewhere.
You need this book, "When I say no I feel guilty". You can borrow it at your local public library too.
And if that doesn't work take a course in assertiveness training.
That is the problem we IT people have, we are not assertive. We think we have to do things just because someone asks us or someone expects it of us.
>> Suggesting Linux to someone unable to wean themselves off XP would probably strain the friendship to a greater degree than breaking the news that it's time to shell out for a new PC.
Implying that XP users will be right at home on that new Windoze 8 PC? Because that new fangled metrosexual UI is so similar to a traditional desktop paradigm...
Not really, since the new "Start Screen" has decided that the whole "structured menu hierarchy" thing was a communist plot to help us find our apps and consequently if you have more than half a dozen things installed then the only practical way to find them is to drop the mouse and start typing their names.
Oi, Microsoft, if I wanted a command line interface I'd be running Linux. Oh, hang on...
When asked about getting a new PC, I give them four options (I know, I'm quite generous for a BOFH):
- Buy a iPad or Andriod tablet
- Buy a Chromebook
- Buy a Mac
- Install a Linux distro
If the user does one of these, my life continues as is with minimal impact, if however, they did not listen to me, the have likely bought into Windows 8 in which I reply:
- Downgrade to Windows 7
You see, I can find my way around Win8 to solve problems (its fucked up mostly, but dicking around poor development decisions seems to be part of my gig). I don't really have to bitch about windows 8 at all, the entire time I'm fixing thier problem, the user will happliy tell me how much they hate the product, upon which the time comes where I feel the need to iterate over the former options again.
"The problem is infections can come in on the internet connection even if nobody is using it."
That hasn't been true for many years. The Black Hat conference actually gave up on their "Can you hack the bare OS?" contest around the middle of the last decade because none of the major OSes were vulnerable out of the box. You had to be running a bad app (usually from Adobe) or persuade the end-user to do something
Someone correct me if I'm wrong (again ;)).
MS makes more money selling a retail Windows 7 or Windows 8 license than they do selling an OEM license.
And they make much more money selling individual OEM licenses than OEM licenses to Dell, HP, and so on.
And when someone buys a computer there is a chance they won't even select Windows but might select a computer with a totally different operating system.
So isn't MS reducing its own profits and risking loss of market share with this advise?
From the customer point of view, I have a brother who wants to keep running a 7 year old XP machine in his SOHO.
The thing is it is much easier and cheaper to replace a computer on a planned basis than as an emergency.
Getting maybe 3 more years out of a 7 year old machine is false economy.
An emergency computer replacement is going to take at least 2 business days (get the computer and initial software, get the remaining software, do conversions).
Then there is training on the new software packages (Quickbooks, etc.).
Then there is discovering at tax time that key files are in an obscure directory on that old failed disk drive and he must now manually recreate them.
Boom $1200 lost billings right there. All to prevent tossing out a cheap business computer 3 years early.
Much better to do the replacement while the old machine is still working.
If he had an XP machine that was less than 3 years old, or if he had a high end XP machine that was less than 5 years old, I would probably just install Windows 7, a mere $120 at amazon.ca.
We don't want to do tech support for anyone else at all really.. aged parents excepted - maybe. Friends/siblings (AKA "friblings"), unless seriously broke and/or desperate, should always be pointed elsewhere for anything other than vague mutterings about IT stuff. Play the mug once, and you get the hat for life and will forever be wasting your time (and theirs often) tinkering with and fixing their cerappy old virus ridden kit for free when they just need to hand over the readies and bloody well pay for something, commercially, with money!.
I'm not a great fan of capitalism generally, but professionally, it just makes life a lot more straight forward.
If you pay for something you have a right to expect a service, if not you don't.
If fribling gets a new PC, no matter how cheap and rubbish, well it should be covered under warantee/sale of goods act etc, and someone else will be responsible (i.e can be blamed).
If they have the dough, fribling should just be pointed towards a Mac.
They will know / recognise Apple kit, and while expensive, will accept that Macs do look nice, are a feel good buy. Best of all, there are places called "Apple Stores". And while Macs are still much less likely to suffer effects of virus stuff etc than Microsofts, if and when things do go wrong, I can say truthfully I don't really know too much about fixing them and point fribling to the Apple shop - job done! Currys-PC World just doesn't have the same associations with "knowing about IT stuff".
I've done this before over several years (only since OSX mind) and I have yet to get a "fribling" support call (about software / OS issues anyhow) from those who went down the Mac path.
Although used to dealing with Linux & Unix systems as part of the day job, and have them myself, I really,really don't want to be a Linux/BSD or wotnot evangelist and be lumbered with fribling wingeing about things that are different/don't work the same as Windows blah blah blah...
Sorry El Reg, but suggesting Linux has *not* put a strain on my relationships with people whose machines I help out with. Far from it.
I moved my Dad to it from Vista, years ago. He hates anything else now, to the point he didn't even want Windows 7.
In fact, there's two basement level DSGi group pushed crapboxes belonging to my inlaws, that I wiped and refreshed with Ubuntu and have been merrily trundling away for the last four years through multiple OS upgrades. An epoch in MS world, in which the aforementioned MicroSofties would have have had me toss perfectly adequate boxes onto the scrapheap and swell the pocket of a 'hardware partner'. This is, IMHO, an immoral thing to do - those electronic waste piles are citadels now, and I'd wager a staggering amount of kit could have had a much longer service life but for profiteering marketing messages leading the unaware to think they have no choice but replacement.
Granted, one box is struggling now - but it hasn't even occurred to me to suggest they need new kit. I shall kill off the weaker of the pair, cannibalise it for bits, and pimp-up the survivor with the inclusion of a cheapie SSD. That'll run a Linux distro too, maybe U/Xubuntu, maybe not.
Windows 8 presents such a slap on the kisser, that the idea of a learning curve is all moot. If they're going to have to learn new stuff, take the chance to break 'em out of the racket.
Linux distros all have their quirks and annoyances, and they're far from perfect. But I'll take 'em over Windows 8, thanks.
Part way solution to removing vunerable XP installations. MS could give away free the Windows 7 Starter Edition (subject to a registration process). It will run on older hardware allbeit slowly but its better that then a compromised PC. This would cut down piracy and hacked versions, if legitimate downloads & product keys could be aquired from MS directly. This seems a better solution to me than the advice from MS to buy a new PC, as not everyone can afford to do so.
It's a noble idea, but MS will never give away any version of Windows 7.
The party-line is Win8 adoption, and nothing will stop that juggernaut. It took the threat of MSless netbooks to prompt a 'regression' to XP during Vista times, and even that was at the OEM / preinstalled level.
I think MS know full well that free or cheap Win7 starter would be a threat to nascent Win8 adoption levels. Those would be SKUs that would positively levitate above the 'shelves' against the upper-level wishes for that sort of sales performance with 8. I don't think we'll ever see that.
Spend hours on here saying Office is much better than LibreOffice because LibreOffice doesnt import things quite right?
Tell you what upgrade your systems to Linux then spend the money you saved on converting your documents to LibreOffice so Bloat Office doesnt import them well and you will end up much freer and you will have CONTROL of your IT infrastructure instead of whining every few years because you got your sorry arses stuck in a Microsoft hell hole!
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