Dumbing down Windows 9x workstations

Last week, I mentioned that Microsoft was finally dropping

support for Windows 98

and posed the question about whether or not

Microsoft really intended organizations to make the jump to Windows XP as a

result. Apparently it does – at least partially. Microsoft wants to turn

Windows 9x-class workstations into dumb terminals.

Microsoft is releasing a new program called "Windows

Fundamentals for Legacy PCs"

. Microsoft understands that many Windows

9x workstations are still in use in business. It’s also aware that these

workstations are underpowered to run XP full blown and that many organizations

don’t want to spend the money necessary to replace this equipment. At the same

time, by abandoning support for Windows 9x, businesses are now left vulnerable

to attacks that may appear in 9x. WFLPC is meant to address all of those needs.

WFLPC is built on Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 2 code.

As such, it’s supposed to have the smaller footprint necessary to make it run

on older Windows 9x workstations. To use WFLPC, the workstation will need as

little as 64MB of RAM, a Pentium processor and 500MB of hard drive space. It

will also need a network card, because essentially what WFLPC does is turn the

workstation into a dumb terminal.

WFLPC gives businesses the ability to continue to use

Windows 9x-class machines while maintaining security on the system. Because of

the terminal aspect, the systems can be even more secure because you’ll be able

to centralize control over them in ways not possible in Windows 9x.

Unfortunately, your run of the mill small business or home

owner won’t the get the chance to use WFLPC. 

You can’t just buy if off the shelf. Instead, it’s included as part of

Microsoft’s Software

Assurance program. Plus, naturally you have to have Microsoft software

running on the back end for the WFLPC workstation to talk to.

So is Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs the

way to go with old workstations?  It’s

hard to tell. With Windows 9x remaining unpatched in the future, continuing to

use it will be a gamble. I’ve always thought terminal-based machines can make a

lot of sense from both a security and a management standpoint. What’s your


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