Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, January 16, 2003 2:14 pm

Already got a Savior, thanks

Filed under: Geek-related issues — Lex @ 2:14 pm

As a computer consumer, I put up with Microsoft because I kind of have to; as a former neighbor of mine who’s also a software developer once said, it’s not good business to bet against Bill. But that doesn’t mean I have to like MS, and here’s yet another reason why: The company will end technical support for Windows 98 (which I run at home) and NT4 (which a few of our office machines still run, I think) on June 30.

ABC’s Web site casts this news accordingly: “Microsoft to the Rescue: The End of Support for Older Windows Versions Could Spur PC Upgrades.” (Or, as the page in question says in its header, “Microsoft Bails Out the PC Market.”

This just annoys the bejeebers outta me. I’m currently running a used PII 200MHz HP at home, and it’s perfectly satisfactory for what I do there: spreadsheets, word processing, e-mail, blogging, Web surfing, a few educational CD-ROMs for the kids. If I had the time to rip ‘n’ burn music, I might need or want an upgrade, but I don’t, so I’d be just as happy to keep this machine pretty much as is for at least the next couple of years. This might or might not be an option, however. True, the lack of tech support doesn’t mean per se that my computer is no longer useful. But lack of tech support also means a lack of patches and upgrades, which would be particularly worrisome in the area of security, something at which Microsoft does not excel to begin with.

ABC decides this is good news for business –which, you can argue, it certainly is if it means lots of people will be out buying new computers. Indeed, an analyst quoted in the article suggests that 17 percent of home PC users will be replacing their now-outdated machines by June 30. But that’s only good news for some businesses. The same analyst estimates there are 150 million users of older versions of Microsoft’s Office software package that won’t run well with newer versions of Windows … and would thus have to be upgraded as well. And Office, kids, is not cheap.

Moreover, the decision, although consistent with Microsoft’s past behavior, is freakin’ lousy news for consumers like me: Why should I be forced to buy a new computer (and new, more intrusive operating system) I neither need nor want?

And cuz I’m all about the journalism, a journalism-related question: Why doesn’t ABC at least acknowledge that there are winners and losers in this scenario?

And — last question, I promise — would this be happening if Microsoft had serious competition in the OS market?

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