You’re not really using Windows XP yet, are you? – Computer world

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You’re not really using Windows XP yet, are you?  – Computer world

I don’t know whether to be surprised or horrified by the amount of outdated technology we still use. Maybe both. Both are good.

It’s been 10 years since Windows XP support expired. It’s been a whole decade, folks! But when I recently posted a meme “celebrating” the occasion, I started hearing from people who – God help them – are still using XP.

One person told me they thought XP still lived at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on older systems still running Windows XP Embedded (XPe). For what? Because their manufacturers wouldn’t (couldn’t?) update their systems. Sure, NASA could replace them… but with a six-figure price tag for new equipment, no one has the budget to do that.

I can believe it – I was working at Goddard in the late 1980s and one of my projects was managing an online system for tracking the real-time status of NASA’s Space Shuttle communications links. Among the systems I ran the herd on was a shuttle tertiary data connection which was a 110 baud telex line to Bermuda dating back to the 1950s. It worked, but that’s all the we could say that.

Then as now, we kept it going because NASA didn’t have the money to replace it. (NASA, by the way, has never had the budget it needed since the 1960s and the Apollo moon landings.)

But I digress.

NASA isn’t the only one that needs to run XP. Several people have told me that their medical facilities still use XPe systems. Yet another tells me his engineering lab does the same thing. The reason? Again, it works and there is no money to replace the hardware.

But, you say, these are special cases, bizarre situations. Nobody really uses XP on a PC, do they? ARE THEY?

Yes, actually they are.

According to StatCounter, as of March 2024, 0.39% of desktop computers were still running Windows XP. Let’s do a little math. Microsoft says there are 1.4 billion Windows PCs in the world, which means we still don’t have 5.5 million XP computers up and running somewhere. And since StatCounter gets its numbers from Internet-connected systems, that means we have about 5.5 million compromised PCs worldwide.

Eek!

The classic justification is: “It works very well! Why should I spend money on this! » My 1991 Toyota MR-2 also ran great for decades, but I still wouldn’t drive in a demolition derby without brakes or a seat belt.

It’s not just XP. There are still many archaic systems in production.

For example, if you think XP is way too old to be used for work, consider the German railway company that was recently looking for a Windows administrator for Workgroups 3.11! It turns out that this software manages the “driver’s cabin display system on high-speed and regional trains”. [which] shows the driver the most important technical data in real time.

I love trains, but I think I might avoid German trains.

There is another old system that still “drives” public transport. In San Francisco, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) still uses the 5.25-inch format. floppy disks to operate the city’s Muni Metro light rail. Each morning, the system boots three floppy disks to load the Automatic Train Control System (ATCS) software. ATCS allows human train operators to supervise while the train runs on its own.

This takes the principle of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to scary new levels.

At least San Francisco is modernizing its system – if they can get the budget.

Now I use old technology all the time. Under my main work desk, I keep my vintage 1982 KayPro II computer. It always boots from its floppy drives. But I haven’t used it for work this century. I keep it out of pure nostalgia since it was my first PC.

But I’m reasonable about it. I keep all other computers on hand up to date with the latest patches and updates. You should too. To do otherwise is just to invite trouble.

But before you leave, color me curious. What is the oldest system that you still use for your actual work?

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