Tag Archives | Windows XP

Eight Years Ago Today

Would you pardon me if I shared some wholly personal memories? I think about them every year, but I don’t think I’ve ever recorded them. Don’t worry–there’s some tech stuff in here (even a Windows XP reference).

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I arrived at PC World’s Boston office a bit earlier than usual and got to work on whatever I happened to be working on that morning. I hadn’t been at my desk for long when my San Francisco colleague Denny Arar pinged me on IM: She’d received an e-mail from the organizers of a wireless conference that was going to be held at the World Trade Center, saying that there was a fire at one of the towers, but not to worry–the conference would be rescheduled or relocated if necessary.

That’s how I heard something was amiss in New York.

Denny told me there was something on the news about an airplane striking one of the towers. I assumed it was a small plane under the control of an incompetent pilot.

I went to CNN.com and it wouldn’t load. Neither would other news sites. Instant sinking feeling.

Eventually, we figured how to to get news about what was going on (I think a Boston coworker had a tiny TV) and I spent the first couple of hours of September 11th worried about my sister, who had plans to fly from Boston’s Logan Airport to New York that morning. (It wasn’t yet clear that the hijacked planes were all supposed to be flying to the west coast–or that other hijacked planes wouldn’t be smashing into other buildings all day long.) Once I reached her, I learned that when she arrived at Logan they told her the airport was shut down, but didn’t explain why; she then tried to take Amtrak before learning just what was going on. (When she got home, her answering machine had reached capacity with messages from friends telling her not to go to New York.)

We spent the rest of the day at the office following the news, and trying to work. Everybody else anywhere near Copley Square apparently went home early; by the end of the day, the only people in the vicinity seemed to be me, my coworker Tom Spring, and one bartender at the one restaurant in our office building which hadn’t closed early.

Mark BinghamLater, at home, I was watching TV when a list of names of passengers aboard Flight 93, the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, scrolled across the screen. One of the names was Mark Bingham. I knew a Mark Bingham–a PR person who I talked with frequently and who had sent me e-mail that was still sitting in my inbox. At first I thought the odds were against it being the same Mark Bingham, but then it dawned on me that while the world might have a lot of Mark Binghams, relatively few of them were likely to be aboard a New York-San Francisco flight. I started Googling around and learned that the Mark Bingham on Flight 93 was, indeed, a PR person.

My colleague Bud McLeod noted that Mark might have been involved in a passenger uprising against the Flight 93 hijackers and suggested that we publish a story about him on PCWorld.com, which we did. I had my first moments of mild cheerfulness since the morning of 9/11 when e-mails from folks who knew Mark a lot better than I did started to roll in thanking us for the story.

(Most of my encounters with Mark were on the phone, and I can still hear his rich, distinctive voice: “Hi, Harry, this is Mark Bingham.” That Flight 93 movie wasn’t bad, but they shoulda cast someone who sounded like Mark rather than an actor who looked sort of  like him.)

Rudy GiulianiFlash forward to October 25th, 2001. I’m in New York City for the first time since the events of 9/11, for the Windows XP launch. (Rudy Giuliani joined Bill Gates onstage, unannounced; it was easily the most electrifying moment I’ve ever witnessed as a tech journalist.) I still hadn’t been on an airplane–I took the train to New York, as I’d planned to do all along. But after the XP launch, I was flying to San Francisco. From Newark Airport. On United. Which was the same route and carrier as Flight 93.

When I’d booked my flight in early September it had seemed unremarkable. But if you’re going to get back on the horse, you might as well get back on the horse…

I was a trifle skittish; the flight attendants were maybe the most skittish people I’d ever encountered. The plane, as you might guess, wasn’t very crowded. So I got an upgrade. To seat 1A.

After we’d reached cruising altitude, I decided to visit the restroom. There were two doors in front of me at the front of the plane, and for a moment I couldn’t tell which was the cockpit and which was the lavatory. I decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to rattle the handle on either of them to see if it would open, and went back to my seat.

I hope it goes without saying that I also spent a lot of time during this period reflecting about those far more directly impacted than I by the events of 9/11 and all the events that followed–and that I still do. May we never forget.

Those are my 9/11 memories–what are yours?


Windows XP to Live On Through 2011

Windows XP LogoXP is like that houseguest you can never get to leave.  Microsoft is now giving computer manufacturers up to 18 months — or until April 2011 — to offer “downgrade” options from Windows 7 for customers. The concession by Redmond is a victory for companies who had been pushing for the extension to minimize the pain of upgrading to the newest operating system.

Many of these companies are not expected to be ready to make the upgrade until 2010 or even 2011. Thus, any computers bought during this period would still need XP installed.  Microsoft had said it would only give a six month grace period before, but this was criticized as too short.

It also would increase upgrade costs. After the deadline, companies would have to buy a new PC with Vista Business or Ultimate, and then downgrade to XP (these two versions have downgrade rights). From there, it would have to purchase Windows 7 to upgrade, and it would end up paying twice over for this process.

This seems like a fair method to handle any possible upgrading issues. After all, XP is now eight years old — so it’s time for companies to start thinking about upgrading. At the same time, there’s a lot of mission critical programs that need to be updated themselves to handle Windows 7, so it gives those developers some extra time to work.


Windows Expensive to Put on Netbooks? Not Really

In what is definitely a defensive move, sources for the Wall Street Journal indicate that the company has only been asking for $15 per copy of XP intended to be installed on netbook computers. That is as little as 25% of its typical fee for notebooks and desktops.

With Linux a popular choice for those looking to avoid Microsoft’s high royalty fees, Redmond apparently felt the window of opportunity closing. Thus it has begun an agressive push to remain dominant in this space as well, and it meant taking a hit on profit margins for its Windows software.

Netbooks may have conribute to the 8 percent decline in revenues in the division, although to be fair that may include customers deciding to pass over Vista and deciding to wait it out for Windows 7.

Speaking of Win 7, how will that handle netbooks? Microsoft is considering a policy of only allowing three concurrent applications. While it may seem unreasonable for them to do so, consider the fact that these devices for the most part do not contain top-of-the-line hardware.


Windows XP: I'm Not Dead Yet(?)

Windows XP LogoWell, Microsoft just can’t seem to quit Windows XP. It is now being reported that the company has given HP an extension to continue selling the aging OS until April 10, 2010.

The rumor’s source is fairly dubious — it comes from AppleInsider, which typically only reports on Apple rumors, and even there its accuracy rate has not been the best. In any case, it claims the information comes from a source within HP.

If true, it would mean that Microsoft would essentially offer XP and Windows 7 side by side with at least one manufacturer for possibly as long as six months. While no firm date has been announced for Windows 7’s launch, it is expected to debut later this year.

Support for XP officially from Microsoft will end on April 14, save for important security updates. If this rumor is true, it may be worthwhile to watch Redmond over the next week to see if they go ahead and push the support cut-off for the OS once more.

I always thought Microsoft would end up doing this, especially with the number of netbooks still coming out preloaded with XP.

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Want XP? Dell will Give It to You…for $150

dellscreengrab1Dell has reintroduced the option for Windows XP for its consumer PCs. But if you really, really want Microsoft’s aging OS, you’re gonna pay for it. $150 to be exact–which is up from previous fees to downgrade.

The Texas-based computer maker had been charging up to $50 as late as June of this year, increasing that to a $100 premium around October. Now, the company apparently thinks users nonplussed by Vista will pay even more.

Call me crazy (and possibly slightly biased), but if people hate Vista that much, and are in the market for a new computer, why don’t they just make the switch and buy a Mac? These days more and more applications are getting the port over to Mac OS X, so it’s not like these folks will be missing much.

Anyways, back to the matter at hand. The option, as shown in the screenshot I’ve included, is available on both Inspiron notebooks and laptops. According to press reports, this surcharge covers a downgrade loophole that is available to business customers.

I’m not exactly sure how they’re legally doing this when these are obviously consumer purchases, but I’m guessing this somehow has Microsoft’s blessing or it would not be happening. Essentially how it works is the customer prepays for an upgrade to Vista Ultimate in exchange for a preinstalled copy of Windows XP Professional.

Yet more evidence that Microsoft needs to get Windows 7 out sooner rather than later, don’t you think?