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Windows XP versus 98 SE

By jardinier ·
I have a computer installed with XP Pro, and have Office 2000 installed.

However I am reluctant to make the effort to learn XP because I am quite happy with 98 SE running Office 97.

Can anyone give me some convincing arguments as to why I should make the effort to learn XP?

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OS preferences

by apotheon In reply to Slick

There are, indeed, cases where XP is a better option than 2k, but they aren't the reasons most people think they are. There are some extremely limited niche uses for which WinXP Pro is more functional than Win2k Pro. It's more likely that an upgrade will be "forced" by dropped support for the older OS, "forced" by third-party products dropping support for the older OS, or mindless succumbing to marketing hype. The only functionality benefit to XP that I've run across so far is that the 64-bit ported versions will actually take some advantage of 64-bit processors (though not bloody much, since they're still 32-bit OSes that are simply communicating with the 64-bit processors through what amounts to a United Nations interpreter, with all the attendant waste of resources). The fact that there's a net performance gain with 64-bit processors, even on kludged support for them like in the compatible versions of XP, is something that Win2k can't replicate.

Of course, it's hardly worth the expense, considering how little additional performance you can eke out of the things. One can only hope things will get better on that score next year when the next 64-bit version of XP (hopefully a "true" 64-bit OS this time, though I'm not holding my breath) is released.

I have yet to recommend an upgrade to XP from 2k, under any circumstances. If the need arises, I won't hesitate to make the recommendation, though I will make all caveats abundantly clear.

As for preferring a lean, mean, and clean OS, it boggles my mind that you seem so opposed to use of Linux. The most bloated Linux installation I've ever seen had about half the fat of the most lean, stripped-down Windows NT 4.0 or Windows 2000 system possible. Even though it was still built on 16-bit DOS (without the subsequent broken 32-bit implementation), Windows 95's first release was a monument to bloat and cruft in comparison to a fully-featured Linux.

I don't begrudge anyone the decision to use Windows, in terms of comfort with the OS, but if you're looking for lean, mean, clean, stable, secure, functional, and featureful, Linux will put any Windows OS to shame. Windows is good for exactly one thing, in functional terms: running Windows-only software. More and more of that is becoming easily used within Windows emulation environments in Linux, of course.

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Linux & such...

by dafe2 In reply to OS preferences

You usually don't have a whole lot of choice in corporate environments - You know the ones - Theres the technical decision, the sound decision and then the political decison. The political decision just read PC Magazine or something so guess what?....Anyway you can't buy a box nowadays without XP (Pro in this case) so we've just produced an XP image based on team feedback and run with it....service packs & patches are just slipstreamed to a RIS server and updated.

As for a 64 BIT OS I've not been aquainted with more than marketing materials. Seems a little reckless at this stage though. Nice to see the 64 BIT CPU's..............Hopefully more than a kludged Operating System shows next year.

I can't imagine anyone wanting to buy the CPU and throwing a compatible OS at it. Kind of like buying a **1 and putting K-Mart rubber on the wheels.

My jibes at Linux are as you suspect - Without foundation. My only "experience" with Linux was a temporary employee I caught (Maliciously) reading an NTFS partition with a Linux boot disk.

So any information I've gathered with regards to Linux is from that point of view ONLY.
Any remarks (or isinuations) are for humour. I have a great deal of respect for those that have taken the time to learn & use any OS Professionally. I still use OS/2 and continue to maintain a large client base in that area as well.

My jibes at Linux AKA "the Penguin" are made in jest and with respect.

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re: OS perceptions

by apotheon In reply to Linux & such...

"I can't imagine anyone wanting to buy the CPU and throwing a compatible OS at it. Kind of like buying a **1 and putting K-Mart rubber on the wheels.": That's pretty much exactly how I see it. Many people do it, though, based on marketing. If K-Mart had a high-dollar national ad campaign for crappy K-Mart "high performance" tires running, there would be people buying K-Mart tires for their Porsches.

There are, after all, people that buy Goodyear "high performance" tires for expensive, high-performance cars.

"My only 'experience' with Linux was a temporary employee I caught (Maliciously) reading an NTFS partition with a Linux boot disk.": Heh. That should prove the usefulness of Linux-based OSes to you, at least for network audits. Ahem. Guerilla marketing, I tell ya.

"My jibes at Linux AKA "the Penguin" are made in jest and with respect.": Good to hear.

Obviously, I don't have much bad to say about people that have developed the skills of dealing with the Windows platform in all its troublesome glory. Managing such systems requires a lot of dedication and self-education to remain at the top of one's game. In fact, I spend a lot more time supporting Windows systems than Linux systems in my line of work (although, to be fair, much of the reason for that is that the Linux systems aren't crashing like the Windows systems). As a Windows support professional myself, I can't really cast stones at those others who do the same.

As my peer listing here at TR suggests, however, a real professional in the IT industry is someone who works to make his job obsolete by developing solutions to the problems his job addresses. That's not to say he puts himself out of business, of course: there'll always be a new set of problems, which will require someone like him to do a new job. The more stable, secure, and capable Linux platform is simply the answer to a lot of the problems the IT industry is attempting to solve with the latest version of Windows, in my estimation. I make more money from Windows, but that's something like a mechanic using faulty parts when fixing a car so that its owner will have to come back to the garage again.

A planned obsolescence profit model doesn't sit well with me.

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Much the same

by dafe2 In reply to re: OS perceptions

Hehehe. You just can't help yourself...

Re Linux:

Curious though, The guy went to the trouble of creating this "fancy" Linux boot disk when so many other tools & utils would've been much less stressful.
Gave him points for creativity & persistance though.

Many would say my lack of attention to Linux is due to my constant attention to learning & re-learning Microsoft products.

Without question, I share your views with regards to those that excel in this or any other game. A great deal of effort & dedication goes into keeping skills sharp.

In the end, our goals appear the same. Your skills and dare I say "reluctant" appreciation of MS product are clear. No doubt you eat as well (and sleep as soundly) as I do at the end of the day.

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re: Much the same

by apotheon In reply to re: OS perceptions

Indeed, I suspect that, at the end of the day, we're both in pretty much the same place.

obligatory advocacy:
Of course, when I go home, I don't have to restart my computer because of the standard Windows memory leaks. Ahem.

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Security, Stability, Hardware

by TheChas In reply to Windows XP versus 98 SE

Hi Julian,

Here's my take on XP.

If you have the hardware to run XP, (at least 2X Microsoft's minimum) go with it.

For a new system, go with XP over W98, hands down.

First, even though W98 is still supported, that support is minimal at best. Patches will only be produced for issues that Microsoft determines to be critical!

Reading through the security bulletins from Microsoft, I have the impression that W98 has most of the security flaws being fixed in W2K and XP. But, by some secret formula, Microsoft determines that the flaw in the W98 is not "critical" enough to warrant the effort to fix it.

Some of the security fixes for W98 actually break W98 on some older systems.

Both IE6 and DirectX 9 are in part security fixes. Each will cause some systems with older video cards to become very unstable.
Despite the security risks, I am hesitant to upgrade W98 systems to either IE6 or DirectX 9.

Even for those on a dial-up connection, I now recommend installing a software firewall along with anti-virus software.

Second, with the exception of older hardware, XP is a LOT more stable than W98 ever has been.
My personal XP system has been running since 2002 without a re-load of Windows. I can't think of a W98 system that has run that long without developing crashes or slowdowns.

Finally, hardware is becoming an issue for W98. I have thumb drives and hard drives that will not work on a W98 system.

VIA recommends using an older revision of their chip-set drivers for W98 and Me.

Microsoft has stopped certifying drivers for W98. That means that manufactures either have to offer an old and out of date driver for W98, or offer an unsigned driver.

Bottom line:

New hardware, Windows 2000 or XP.

Old hardware not connecting to a network or the Internet, stick with the OS that came with the system.

Old hardware being used on-line or networked, replace / upgrade as needed and switch to Windows 2000 or XP.

Chas

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Critical updates and SP2

by jardinier In reply to Windows XP versus 98 SE

I went to the MS website to search for critical updates for my XP Pro.

I was informed that 77 MB of updates were needed.

However Colin told me that this was merely the components of SP2 that were relevant to my particular computer.

So SP2 is likely to stuff up my computer, but I can't get critical updates without selecting the lot.

Now I could be wrong about this as I did not look at the list of patches that were nominated.

Naturally I cannot download 77 MB with a dial-up connection, and I have no intention of installing SP2 from one of the disks which come with computer magazines.

What options are left for me, then?

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Try this link

by dafe2 In reply to Critical updates and SP2

You can have the CD delivered to you here:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/winxppro/maintain/winxpsp2.mspx

For once, they aren't charging S&H :-)

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Thanks, but ...

by jardinier In reply to Try this link

Perhaps I didn't make myself clear. I already have two legitimate copies of SP2 on CD.

The point is that I don't want to install it all, because of reports I have heard that it will clash with some software.

A good friend of mine who owns a computer business will ONLY install SP2 on brand new machines which no other software loaded.

Here is an item about the potential problems with SP2:

XP SP 2 WILL CAUSE PROBLEMS WITH 10 PER CENT OF COMPUTERS
[TechWeb News, September 1, 2004]

Upgrading to Service Pack 2 (SP2) will cause problems with about one out of every 10 PCs running Windows XP, according to research published this week by a Canadian asset-monitoring service provider.

Ottawa-based AssetMetrix probed over 44,000 Windows XP systems housed in nearly 350 companies to come up with its numbers, matching what it found on the PCs against various lists that Microsoft has posted of programs that have, or may have, compatibility issues with the massive SP2 update.

?On average, 10.3 percent of the Windows XP-based machines will have an issue of some degree with SP2,? said Steve O'Halloran, the managing director of AssetMetrix Research Labs. ?Or better put, they have the 'opportunity' for an issue to arise.? AssetMetrix used Microsoft-made lists -- including one that identifies applications that have an issue with the now-on-by-default Windows Firewall, and another that names applications known to experience a 'loss of functionality' when SP2 is installed -- to come up with its figures.

The 10 percent rate didn't come as a shock, said O'Halloran, but a new-found correlation between company size and XP usage did. ?Actually, I was assuming [the percentage] would be higher, but I didn't expect to spot a statistical difference between large and small companies.?

Business with fewer than 100 XP machines, for instance, can anticipate problems with 11.9 percent of their systems, said O'Halloran, while those with more than 100 XP PCs can figure on issues with just 6.2 percent of their desktops. Smaller companies will have a tougher time with SP2 for a variety of reasons, including a higher concentration of Windows XP PCs. According to AssetMetrix's data, the smaller the company -- as measured by the number of PCs it operates -- the more likely it's a 100 percent XP shop.

Other factors play to the increased chance that smaller businesses will be affected by SP2, said O'Halloran, including their use of older software -- which in some cases has issues with SP2 while newer versions do not -- and use of second- or third-tier programs, like Corel's WordPerfect, one of the titles on the 'loss of functionality' list.

A lack of standardisation also plays to a bigger-than-average impact of SP2 on small business. Several FTP programs are on the Windows Firewall list, for example, and where an enterprise would likely force all users to deploy just one of those, small businesses are much looser, and tend to have different programs on different machines. ?It's like the lottery,? said O'Halloran. ?The more programs you use the better chance you'll be a winner.?

While small companies will probably have it tougher than enterprises today, that will change as larger firms update systems to XP (and thus XP2) in 2005 in anticipation of Longhorn and to refresh aging hardware. ?Larger companies will have to resolve this tomorrow,? said O'Halloran, ?because they'll find it's a continual process to insure that this affected software is remedied [when XP SP2 is added to the mix].?

By his estimate, compatibility issues with SP2 will last a year to a year and a half, based on previous Windows migrations. And in his mind, as well as many analysts, SP2 is as much a new OS as a major security update. ?Users should understand software compatibility from that perspective, that [Sp2] is really a new operating system.?

?But don't let the one-in-ten PC with compatibility problems spook you,? he said. ?Even through you're seeing this quantified, don't use that as an excuse to skirt the issue. Deploy SP2 now. It's for the greater good of the organisation, even if some systems and applications won't work without work.?

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10+

by apotheon In reply to Thanks, but ...

I understand your reluctance to install SP2, particularly if it's on a personal (in the proprietary sense, rather than the technology architecture sense) computer. On the other hand, I learned a long time ago that with Windows one must plan for the occasional, inevitable necessity of a reinstall. That's life.

This has prompted me to learn better habits in how I organize data on the hard drive (never letting Windows decide where my saved files go, for instance). This makes the process of keeping backups (or making them, if you are too lazy to do the smart thing and keep them current) much easier. Thus, when it comes time to reinstall, you won't lose any data. By the way, I never use the My Documents folder and similar default directories on Windows machines for anything non-temporary or non-disposable.

It's also a good idea to keep A) all software CDs, floppies, manuals, and so on for applications installed on a system with, or very near, that system, in an organized manner, B) a list with or near the computer (again organized) of all installed applications, configurations, and settings, and C) diligent backups (just had to reiterate the importance of that).

These are lessons I learned primarily from dealing with Windows. I know these things by rote because of professional training and formal education, of course, but I really LEARNED it by dealing with Windows' little instabilities and other surprises. They're still good practice, though, even when using other (more stable) OSes like the various Unices (Linux, BSD, Solaris, OS X). This stuff is all just very, very good practice.

You can start learning such lessons now. Start by backing everything up. Make sure you've got all of your software paraphernalia handy. When that's done, consider whether you want to reinstall everything from scratch, including SP2. If you can afford the downtime, you might as well learn what you can about SP2, and try installing it. If it wipes out your system or otherwise screws things up beyond repair, you'll at least be prepared to reinstall.

If everything goes smoothly, you'll be in business.

If this was a production-environment critical system, there's no way in **** I'd recommend installing SP2 without prototyping on an "identical" system or six. By the way, the following three links are a good place to start in learning about downloading and installing patches without using the IE-driven Windows Update and Automatic Update tools:

http://www.theeldergeek.com/slipstream_06.htm
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en&categoryid=7
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/desktopdeployment/securitypatching/securitysus.mspx

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