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The Slow, Lingering Death Of Win98

In This Issue:

1. Editor's Note: The Slow, Lingering Death Of Win98
2. Today's Top Story
     - Ex-UBS Sys Admin Found Guilty, Prosecutors To Seek Maximum Sentence
3. Breaking News
     - The State Of Spam
     - Texas AG: Laptop Computers Not Equivalent To Textbooks
     - Accenture Unveils $450 Million SOA Initiative
     - Oracle Patches 65 Vulnerabilities
     - Symantec Finds Flaws In Vista's Network Stack
     - Experts Tell Congress U.S. E-Voting Security Is Flawed
     - Brief: Lojack Now Locates Mac Notebooks
     - White House Tightens Breach Rules For Federal Agencies
     - Bloggers: Apple Preparing Digital Movie Rental Biz
     - Parallels' Mac Virtualization Software Now In Stores
     - Journalist Sues YouTube For Copyright Infringement
4. Grab Bag
     - Hands On With The First Blu-Ray Disc Player (PC World)
     - Wal-Mart Tries To Be MySpace. Seriously (Advertising Age)
     - OpenOffice.org Does A Drive-By On Microsoft (The New Marketing)
     - Pew Study On Bloggers (Boing Boing)
5. In Depth: Intel
     - Despite Setbacks, Intel Says Itanium Is Here To Stay
     - Intel Launches Next Itanium With New Price-Performance Pitch
     - Review: Intel's Conroe Vs. AMD's Dual-Core Athlon
     - Supercomputers Get A Speed Boost From Specialized Chips
     - Intel Cans 1,000 Managers
     - Intel, AMD Seen Set For Bleak Quarterly Reports
6. Voice Of Authority
     - India's Government Takes Its Lumps
7. White Papers
     - Change Governance Series: Making Sense Of Regulations And Best Practices
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription

Quote Of The Day:
"Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly." — Francis Bacon


1. Editor's Note: The Slow, Lingering Death Of Win98

Pretty much anything about Vista makes for a surefire hit with InformationWeek readers. Take "Top 10 Windows Vista Hits And Misses." Or "20 Questions About Windows Vista." People can't seem to get enough of Vista, Vista, Vista. Which bodes well for Microsoft's next-generation operating system, right?

Well, maybe.

Because despite all the Vista buildup, stories about not moving to Vista seem to do well also. To take one example, there was Fred Langa's terrific article showing how to completely rebuild, repair, or refresh an existing XP installation without losing data. And then there was Preston Gralla's recent—and very popular—piece entitled "Hate The Vista Hype? How To Stay Happy With Windows XP." (Among other reasons to do so, you'll save money.)

But how many people are still pre-XP? Not many that I know—at least in the business world. Okay, I admit it, there's a creaky old Gateway still running Windows 98 in my daughter's bedroom. But it's not connected to the Internet. And she only needs it to do the most rudimentary word processing.

So it surprised me that one of the most popular stories for the last week has been about Microsoft's release of its Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs software, which can be used to turn aging PCs into thin clients that can run legacy software. After all, this product had been anticipated since fall 2005 and was in fact four months later than promised. Are there really so many older Windows 98 and Me (and even Windows 95) computers running in enterprises to justify this attention?

I use the word "enterprise" deliberately. This software isn't going to be available to consumers, or indeed to anyone who doesn't subscribe to Microsoft's much ballyhooed Software Assurance maintenance program. You want access to Windows Fundamentals? Pay a hefty fee for what is widely considered to be dubious value.

In his blog, Peter Coffee has some interesting hypotheses of why Win98 machines in particular are still alive and kicking (he apparently got a strong reaction when he labeled the end of Win98 support a "train wreck").

First of all, it's frequently impossible to upgrade proprietary legacy software written specifically to solve one company's business issues to new platforms. Either the source code isn't available or there aren't the funds to do the rewrite. Secondly, industrial applications often run on highly specialized equipment that depends on older machines—and it would be prohibitively expensive to replace that equipment. Next, highly regulated industries often have systems that need to be validated for compliance purposes. The last thing companies in such industries want to do is tinker with machines that have been validated at tremendous effort and cost.

I think it's all these things, plus the fact that there are pockets of older systems still chugging away quite productively using either Windows 98 or Me. IDC estimates that there are currently more than 70 million systems running Windows 98 and Me worldwide. Not an insignificant number.

Although most of those are consumers or small businesses, there are bound to be larger companies that have fully amortized their investment in the machines, yet see no reason to get rid of systems that are working perfectly well given their needs. My guess is that people eager to see how they can prolong the life of these PCs eagerly clicked on the link. (Unfortunately, once they read the fine print, they'll be horribly disappointed.)

I personally would worry about the security aspects of running Win98 or Me, especially when Internet connectivity is involved. And support would be a major concern now that Microsoft has made its last call. Windows Fundamentals would solve these problems—at least for companies needing thin clients.

What do you think? Do you have any older machines that could benefit from Windows Fundamentals? Or do you have ancient systems that you still depend on that will continue to run the Win98 or Me operating systems? Perhaps you think that's a crazy notion and would warn companies against persisting with this path? Let me know by responding to my blog.

Alice LaPlante
Alice.laplante@gmail.com


2. Today's Top Story

Ex-UBS Sys Admin Found Guilty, Prosecutors To Seek Maximum Sentence
Prosecutors will seek an eight-year prison sentence for 63-year-old Roger Duronio, once a systems administrator for UBS PaineWebber, convicted Wednesday of launching an attack that brought down the company network.


3. Breaking News

The State Of Spam
Filters have gotten so effective at keeping junk e-mail away from users that there's little public outcry against spam today. But behind the scenes, the problem is worse than ever—and it could mask a serious, real-world threat.

Texas AG: Laptop Computers Not Equivalent To Textbooks
Money set aside for books can't be used to buy hardware or other equipment, the state attorney general ruled.

Accenture Unveils $450 Million SOA Initiative
That money will be used in part to fund a new service-oriented architecture lab, which will focus on accelerating the development of custom applications in specific industries, beginning with health care and financial services.

Oracle Patches 65 Vulnerabilities
Oracle rolled out its second-quarter bug fixes, including more than two dozen that affect its flagship database software.

Symantec Finds Flaws In Vista's Network Stack
Researchers with Symantec's advanced threat team said some of the flaws have been fixed, but they also claim that the rewrite of the networking code could cause problems.

Experts Tell Congress U.S. E-Voting Security Is Flawed
Security experts expressed "grave reservations" about the current state of electronic voting and offered a list of steps Congress should take to ensure an accurate and secure process.

Brief: Lojack Now Locates Mac Notebooks
The software works by contacting Absolute Software's monitoring center when the computer connects to the Internet. If the laptop is reported stolen, it also sends in its current IP address and other networking data.

White House Tightens Breach Rules For Federal Agencies
Government agencies must now alert US-CERT within an hour of any actual or suspected data breach involving personal information. But Gartner analysts say while the rule is a good PR move, it's too murky to be effective.

Bloggers: Apple Preparing Digital Movie Rental Biz
The buzz is that Apple will launch the download service with a new video iPod, some say as early as the company's upcoming developers conference on Aug. 7.

Parallels' Mac Virtualization Software Now In Stores
The software, now available in retail stores around the country, allows Mac users to simultaneously run Windows XP, as well as applications built for the operating system, in isolated "virtual machines" that run alongside OS X.

Journalist Sues YouTube For Copyright Infringement
Robert Tur, a reporter and owner of the Los Angeles News Service, argues that YouTube is encouraging copyright infringement by hosting his footage, including the beating of trucker Reginald Denny, on YouTube servers.

All Our Latest News

Watch The News Show

In the current episode:

John Soat With 'Breaking News'
The IT industry welcomes more summer interns, back-to-school gadget spending is on the rise, Whirlpool tests smart household appliances, and more.

Alex Wolfe With 'Vista Hits And Misses'
Alex reviews Windows Vista Beta 2.

Curtis Franklin With 'Quiet Tech'
Curtis reviews the new Bose Quiet Comfort 3 noise cancellation headphones.

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4. Grab Bag

Hands On With The First Blu-Ray Disc Player (PC World)
The debut of Samsung's BD-P1000 is the latest salvo in the DVD format wars. How will it tip the balance?

Wal-Mart Tries To Be MySpace. Seriously (Advertising Age)
The retail giant has launched a semi-social networking site for teenagers that "proves how painfully uncool it is to try to be cool."

OpenOffice.org Does A Drive-By On Microsoft (The New Marketing)
Sun is advertising OpenOffice, its free office software suite, on buses in and around Microsoft's home base in Seattle. The anti-Microsoft ad copy includes "Stop giving a bully your lunch money," "Compatible with expensive, closed, memory loving software," and "Prehistoric reptilians welcome."

Pew Study On Bloggers (Boing Boing)
The Pew Internet Life project just published a blogging study that reveals some fascinating statistics on blogger demographics and motivations.


5. In Depth: Intel

Despite Setbacks, Intel Says Itanium Is Here To Stay
Five years after Intel delivered its first Itanium chips to high expectations, initially poor reviews, and large sunk costs, the company is still working to recoup its research and development investment.

Intel Launches Next Itanium With New Price-Performance Pitch
The new Itanium 2s are expected to perform better and be priced at about two-thirds the cost of the older Itanium architecture.

Review: Intel's Conroe Vs. AMD's Dual-Core Athlon
In a head-to-head comparison, the CRN Test Center pits Intel's soon-to-be-released Conroe, the Core 2 Extreme processor, against AMD's top-of-the-line Athlon FX62 dual-core processor. See which one comes out on top.

Supercomputers Get A Speed Boost From Specialized Chips
Computer engineers are increasingly using hardware accelerators to break through the limitations of all-purpose microprocessors.

Intel Cans 1,000 Managers
Intel is starting job cuts. The company told employees last week that it will lay off 1,000 managers in a matter of days across business divisions as the start of an effort to cut $1 billion in costs.

Intel, AMD Seen Set For Bleak Quarterly Reports
Has Intel hit bottom? Has upstart AMD peaked?


6. Voice Of Authority

India's Government Takes Its Lumps
Matt McKenzie talks about the mystery of why exactly the Indian government has been trying to censor several blogging-related Web sites.


7. White Papers

Change Governance Series: Making Sense Of Regulations And Best Practices
Need a better understanding of how corporate governance regulations such as HIPAA, SOX, and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act differ from IT industry best practices? This white paper will help you comply with those mandates.


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