July 12, 2006 10:47 AM PDT

Microsoft extends lifeline for older PCs

Microsoft on Wednesday revealed software that turns older PCs into more modern and secure systems, but in the process also makes them less than full-fledged computers.

The software, known as Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs, is designed as a stopgap measure for companies with a significant number of older Windows PCs that they aren't ready to replace and that can't be easily upgraded to Windows XP.

Formerly known by its Eiger code name, Windows Fundamentals gives those PCs some of the security benefits of XP but essentially turns the machines into thin clients, able to run only a few programs locally, with most software needing to run remotely from a server.

As Microsoft announced in September, Windows Fundamentals is being made available as part of Microsoft's Software Assurance licensing program. It's one of several changes the company is making to the program.

"Software Assurance is certainly more than upgrades," said Mike Oldham, a general manager in Microsoft's licensing group. "We see it as a full offering that we are incoprorating more value into all the time."

Oldham said that Microsoft developed Windows Fundamentals because corporate customers were looking for a way to get more years out of their PCs. "This gave them a key tool for expanding those life spans."

Turning PCs into thin clients is something new, Oldham said. "Typically we have not delved into that area."

The company also announced that it is making Virtual PC 2004 Service Pack 1 available free to customers. Volume-licensing customers who adopt Windows Vista will be able to install up to four copies of the operating system in each machine, provided that they are all for use by a single user.

Microsoft has been working hard to sway customers away from the notion that Software Assurance is primarily a way to buy its products on a subscription basis. Under the program, customers pay an additional fee when they license a program and get the rights to any updates issued during a specific period, usually three years. In some cases, though, Microsoft has taken more than three years to prepare an update--the recent release of SQL Server took five years; and Windows Vista is expected to debut early next year, more than five years after Windows XP.

Also on the virtualization front, Microsoft said that effective Oct. 1, companies using Windows Server 2003 R2 Datacenter Edition will be able to run any number of virtualized Windows Server instances. By licensing the Datacenter version, customers will be able to run an unlimited number of virtual versions of the standard, enterprise or Datacenter editions of the operating system.

Meanwhile, VMware, whose virtualization software competes with Virtual PC, said on Wednesday that it is ready with the free version of its GSX Server, for which it once charged up to $2,800. VMware, which is a subsidiary of storage giant EMC, said in February that it would make the software available for free.

Microsoft also announced on Wednesday a new "buy now, pay later" financing promotion, under which business customers can get Windows Vista, Office 2007 and other products by paying $50 a month for six months and then spreading the rest of the cost over 36 equal payments.

The announcements came as Microsoft continues its annual partner conference in Boston.

See more CNET content tagged:
Software Assurance, thin client, Microsoft Virtual PC, data center, virtualization

30 comments

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Trash those older boxes
Geez, my company just tossed some PIII boxes for crying out loud. It's about time.
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trashed P3s?
Give them to somebody that needs them. The P3
was a great processor. Better than the P4s wrt
price-performance and performance-per-watt.
Those machines would make great general-use
machines or thin-clients (maybe a little
overpowered).

Most businesses or schools haven't any use for
tricked-out gaming rigs at each seat.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Give them to me!
I grabbed a P3 a business was tossing, put Linux on it and am running the latest stable and secure versions of software avaialable (for Ubuntu).

It's faster than it was with Windows 98 even before you add Zonealarm (which no longer supports 98) for firewall, Antivirus and Anti-spyware.

Plus I can have it run a FULL webserver instead of PWS.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Link Flag
Trash those older boxes
Geez, my company just tossed some PIII boxes for crying out loud. It's about time.
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Trashed P3s?
Give them to somebody that needs them. The P3
was a great processor. Better than the P4s wrt
price-performance and performance-per-watt.
Those machines would make great general-use
machines or thin-clients (maybe a little
overpowered).

Most businesses or schools haven't any use for
tricked-out gaming rigs at each seat.
Posted by Zymurgist (397 comments )
Link Flag
Give them to me!
I grabbed a P3 a business was tossing, put Linux on it and am running the latest stable and secure versions of software avaialable (for Ubuntu).

It's faster than it was with Windows 98 even before you add Zonealarm (which no longer supports 98) for firewall, Antivirus and Anti-spyware.

Plus I can have it run a FULL webserver instead of PWS.
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Link Flag
No thanks, W98 still works
We have several W98 machines still in use in our customer
support department. Their users only need a web browser and
email and 98 run Thunderbird and Mozilla just like our Windows
XP machines.

The fact that MS no longer issues security updates for 98 isn't an
issue. IMO, no version of Windows is secure so we limit the
websites our Wintel users can reach and block almost every type
of email attachment.

When a w98 machine's hardware fails we replace most of them
with a new XP machine. However, we are finding that a Mac Mini
is an excellent replacement for many of our users and requires
much less support than Windows.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No thanks, W98 still works
We have several W98 machines still in use in our customer
support department. Their users only need a web browser and
email and 98 run Thunderbird and Mozilla just like our Windows
XP machines.

The fact that MS no longer issues security updates for 98 isn't an
issue. IMO, no version of Windows is secure so we limit the
websites our Wintel users can reach and block almost every type
of email attachment.

When a w98 machine's hardware fails we replace most of them
with a new XP machine. However, we are finding that a Mac Mini
is an excellent replacement for many of our users and requires
much less support than Windows.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why go against the standard?
According to a report at The Register ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://" target="_newWindow">http://</a>
www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/11/
ms_ends_windows98_support/ ) that Win98 has 70 million users
out about a worldwide total of 100 million "modern" computers
(I don't count many Third World nations using who knows what
for computing), why not continue support for it. It's like leaving
VHS in the mid-'90s for DVDs just because it's there with a
decent base.

Nah, I'm sure XP is good for games, but everybody I know likes
there crappy Celeron PCs running Win98 just fine.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/" target="_newWindow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/</a>

Programmer #A-5 of www.totallyparanoia.com
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
because it's technologically obsolete
Windows 98 was designed at a time when the Internet was not even populas, and every computer was an island. The scenario has changed too much, the threats, problems and needs of users have changed too much. Windows 98 cannot be made secure, functional and stable without too much effort that would be better spent elsewhere. If you want to keep using 98, it's your computer. Well, that's unless it's already 0wned, in that case it is somebody else's computer.
And the number of 98 machines connected to the Internet are way lower, as any site admin can tell you. The ones not connected to the Internet don't need/use much support anyway.
Posted by herby67 (144 comments )
Link Flag
Why go against the standard?
According to a report at The Register ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://" target="_newWindow">http://</a>
www.theregister.co.uk/2006/07/11/
ms_ends_windows98_support/ ) that Win98 has 70 million users
out about a worldwide total of 100 million "modern" computers
(I don't count many Third World nations using who knows what
for computing), why not continue support for it. It's like leaving
VHS in the mid-'90s for DVDs just because it's there with a
decent base.

Nah, I'm sure XP is good for games, but everybody I know likes
there crappy Celeron PCs running Win98 just fine.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/" target="_newWindow">http://www.network54.com/Forum/7505/</a>

Programmer #A-5 of www.totallyparanoia.com
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
because it's technologically obsolete
Windows 98 was designed at a time when the Internet was not even populas, and every computer was an island. The scenario has changed too much, the threats, problems and needs of users have changed too much. Windows 98 cannot be made secure, functional and stable without too much effort that would be better spent elsewhere. If you want to keep using 98, it's your computer. Well, that's unless it's already 0wned, in that case it is somebody else's computer.
And the number of 98 machines connected to the Internet are way lower, as any site admin can tell you. The ones not connected to the Internet don't need/use much support anyway.
Posted by herby67 (144 comments )
Link Flag
This is part of Microsofts larger "Road-mapped" agenda...
Microsofts stated eventual-goal is that ALL PCs essentially become "thin-clients" (Microsoft-controlled "Services Delivery Devices"), tethered to Microsoft, and perpetually-paying Microsoft for the privilege of being allowed to run, at all.

Additionally, this will allow Microsoft to move to a more restrictive (and costly) "licensing model", such as Microsofts plan to move to perpetual-payment "Individual-User Licensing", instead of perpetual-use "individual-machine licenses".

I dont think most people would voluntarily move directly to that model. So, this kills two birds with one stone...

First, it eliminates a lot of the "older" PCs that people stubbornly refuse to "upgrade" to a more Microsoft-controllable OS (an OS which, for example, would allow Microsoft to "de-activate" the PC, or otherwise render it useless, at Microsofts discretion). This would also allow Microsoft to change, or simply eliminate, any previous "functionality" that Microsoft finds inconvenient, or decides to start charging extra for.

And, second, this will slowly condition consumers to the idea of perpetual-payment, for PC-use, ...Microsofts "holy-grail" of "software as a service".

All in all, this should be a pretty scary development for anyone in the PC Industry...
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is part of Microsofts larger "Road-mapped" agenda...
Microsofts stated eventual-goal is that ALL PCs essentially become "thin-clients" (Microsoft-controlled "Services Delivery Devices"), tethered to Microsoft, and perpetually-paying Microsoft for the privilege of being allowed to run, at all.

Additionally, this will allow Microsoft to move to a more restrictive (and costly) "licensing model", such as Microsofts plan to move to perpetual-payment "Individual-User Licensing", instead of perpetual-use "individual-machine licenses".

I dont think most people would voluntarily move directly to that model. So, this kills two birds with one stone...

First, it eliminates a lot of the "older" PCs that people stubbornly refuse to "upgrade" to a more Microsoft-controllable OS (an OS which, for example, would allow Microsoft to "de-activate" the PC, or otherwise render it useless, at Microsofts discretion). This would also allow Microsoft to change, or simply eliminate, any previous "functionality" that Microsoft finds inconvenient, or decides to start charging extra for.

And, second, this will slowly condition consumers to the idea of perpetual-payment, for PC-use, ...Microsofts "holy-grail" of "software as a service".

All in all, this should be a pretty scary development for anyone in the PC Industry...
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac OS 8.5 it's the better OS
Nah& Back in the day I was happy with my Mac OS 8.5 machine. It was more stable and it had fewer viruses than Windows 98.

For Windows 98 SE there was Mac OS 8.6, which it was even better!
Posted by d4rkn1ght (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mac OS 8.5 it's the better OS
Nah& Back in the day I was happy with my Mac OS 8.5 machine. It was more stable and it had fewer viruses than Windows 98.

For Windows 98 SE there was Mac OS 8.6, which it was even better!
Posted by d4rkn1ght (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Let 98 rest in peace
Win 98 was a great OS for its day. Most will say it was better even, than its decendent, Win ME. I used it for many years, and it served me well. But its time to let go, people. Upgrade already. Join the rest of us in the new milennium. Allow programmers to shift their efforts in keeping their applications Win9x compatible into cooler, more interesting areas of development.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Let 98 rest in peace
Win 98 was a great OS for its day. Most will say it was better even, than its decendent, Win ME. I used it for many years, and it served me well. But its time to let go, people. Upgrade already. Join the rest of us in the new milennium. Allow programmers to shift their efforts in keeping their applications Win9x compatible into cooler, more interesting areas of development.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lifeline or money grab
I think this has to be the number one M$ scam next to Windows Vista. Both are based on fear or hype.
Win98 must be usefull still or it wouldn't be an issue, and it's need for security isn't any worse then WinXP or what Vista will require. Windows anything is an internet target for malware because they are all linked at the core of the OS and only patched to prohibit the most easily to fix holes. Yes, Vista is pretty, but IS IT A NEW OS? No one has yet explained just how new it is beyond it's resourse heavy GUI. It has a few new built in apps, but does that qualify as a new OS? I personally think MS has taken the easy way out and needs to sit down and create a new OS from the ground up. Surely they must have learned something with the Windows experience that would allow for a completely new invention.
Posted by aqvarivs (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Lifeline or money grab
I think this has to be the number one M$ scam next to Windows Vista. Both are based on fear or hype.
Win98 must be usefull still or it wouldn't be an issue, and it's need for security isn't any worse then WinXP or what Vista will require. Windows anything is an internet target for malware because they are all linked at the core of the OS and only patched to prohibit the most easily to fix holes. Yes, Vista is pretty, but IS IT A NEW OS? No one has yet explained just how new it is beyond it's resourse heavy GUI. It has a few new built in apps, but does that qualify as a new OS? I personally think MS has taken the easy way out and needs to sit down and create a new OS from the ground up. Surely they must have learned something with the Windows experience that would allow for a completely new invention.
Posted by aqvarivs (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is part of Microsofts larger, already "Road-mapped", agenda...
Microsofts stated eventual-goal is that ALL PCs essentially become "thin-clients" (effectively, Microsoft-controlled "Services Delivery Devices"), tethered to Microsoft-servers. Among other things, this would strengthen Microsofts numerous, HIGHLY-QUESTIONABLE, "End -user licensing" claims about "software ownership", and "user" control-issues. Eventually, "users" could effectively be required to, "ask permission" from Microsoft, simply for the privilege of being allowed to operate their computer, at all.

This, small, first-step will also allow Microsoft to move toward more restrictive (and costly) "licensing models", such as Microsofts indicated plan to move to a, perpetual-payment, "Individual-User Licensing" scheme, instead of the current, purchase-once, perpetual-use "individual-machine licenses" (where the customer still has "physical" control of the software that they purchase).

I dont think most people would voluntarily move directly to such "models". So, this move, kills two birds with one stone...

First... it eliminates a lot of the "older" PCs that people stubbornly refuse to "upgrade" to a more "modern OS" (I.E. a Microsoft-controllable OS which, for example, would allow Microsoft to "de-activate" the PC, or otherwise render it useless, at Microsofts discretion). This "approach" would also allow Microsoft to change, or simply eliminate, any previous "functionality" that Microsoft finds inconvenient (or later decides to start charging extra for).

And, second... this will slowly condition consumers to the idea of perpetual-payment, for PC-use, ...Microsofts "holy-grail" of "software as a service".

All in all, in my opinion, this should be a pretty SCARY development for ALL consumers, and especially, anyone in the PC Industry...
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's just M$ being greedy like usual :/
More or less, this sort of thing would be the perfect model for controlling computer systems, and raking in the dough. Problem is that something like that would either A) cause M$ to be hated, and drop in popularity sharply, or B) cause a court to get mad and say they can't do that because it's creating a monopoly, or even possibly changing M$ into a cartel, if they chose to control the access to data, and such, as you suggested. I'm sure if M$ really tries something liek this, they'd fail completely. I for one would INSTANTLY switch over to Linux, in a case like that.
Posted by Bobbias (55 comments )
Link Flag
This is part of Microsofts larger, already "Road-mapped", agenda...
Microsofts stated eventual-goal is that ALL PCs essentially become "thin-clients" (effectively, Microsoft-controlled "Services Delivery Devices"), tethered to Microsoft-servers. Among other things, this would strengthen Microsofts numerous, HIGHLY-QUESTIONABLE, "End -user licensing" claims about "software ownership", and "user" control-issues. Eventually, "users" could effectively be required to, "ask permission" from Microsoft, simply for the privilege of being allowed to operate their computer, at all.

This, small, first-step will also allow Microsoft to move toward more restrictive (and costly) "licensing models", such as Microsofts indicated plan to move to a, perpetual-payment, "Individual-User Licensing" scheme, instead of the current, purchase-once, perpetual-use "individual-machine licenses" (where the customer still has "physical" control of the software that they purchase).

I dont think most people would voluntarily move directly to such "models". So, this move, kills two birds with one stone...

First... it eliminates a lot of the "older" PCs that people stubbornly refuse to "upgrade" to a more "modern OS" (I.E. a Microsoft-controllable OS which, for example, would allow Microsoft to "de-activate" the PC, or otherwise render it useless, at Microsofts discretion). This "approach" would also allow Microsoft to change, or simply eliminate, any previous "functionality" that Microsoft finds inconvenient (or later decides to start charging extra for).

And, second... this will slowly condition consumers to the idea of perpetual-payment, for PC-use, ...Microsofts "holy-grail" of "software as a service".

All in all, in my opinion, this should be a pretty SCARY development for ALL consumers, and especially, anyone in the PC Industry...
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's just M$ being greedy like usual :/
More or less, this sort of thing would be the perfect model for controlling computer systems, and raking in the dough. Problem is that something like that would either A) cause M$ to be hated, and drop in popularity sharply, or B) cause a court to get mad and say they can't do that because it's creating a monopoly, or even possibly changing M$ into a cartel, if they chose to control the access to data, and such, as you suggested. I'm sure if M$ really tries something liek this, they'd fail completely. I for one would INSTANTLY switch over to Linux, in a case like that.
Posted by Bobbias (55 comments )
Link Flag
In this case Microsoft has been more than patient
Lets face it...
Windows 98 is very old and archaic. It was fine during its day but its now obsolete. Microsoft has been more than reasonable and far too patient by supporting it this long already. The fact that they are introducing an operating system designed to work with older hardware further shows their commitment to be patient with people.
In the electronics industry computer become outdated within a few years and lets face it windows 98 has been around for alot longer. It is only reasonable to expect themn to let windows 98 die. (Would you expect any auto makers or any other industry to support their products as long as Microsoft has)???
Posted by dogger596 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually, "auto makers" are required BY LAW to do so...
I believe Federal-Law requires "auto makers" to be able to provide spare parts for automobiles for a LOT longer than 9-years. This was done, QUITE SPECIFICALLY, to prevent EXACTLY THIS TYPE of artificially-imposed obsolescence, which would allow the "...UNFAIR market-manipulation of consumers".

So, the example of "Auto makers" is completely flawed from the outset.

Furthermore, Microsoft DOES have a reasonable-responsibility to FIX, the DEFECTIVE-PRODUCTS that they sold to consumers. Microsoft, in their "support", is NOT providing "new" features or "help" in using the product. They are primarily "patching", and otherwise STILL REPAIRING, FLAWS that are still present (in an, apparently, rather large consumer-base) since the original-purchase of the Microsoft-product.

Also, I am NOT just talking about Microsoft deciding when Microsoft should be allowed to "end support" for previous products. I am pointing out that consumers should not be PRESSURED into buying new-products, and services, because a company has simply decided it wants more revenue, which is the CRUX of this matter.

So, Microsoft is NOT "...being reasonable". They are doing, as they have always done, attempting to mis-use their power to further their OWN ENDS, ...to the, in my opinion, SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE of CONSUMERS.

Finally, in response to the seemingly-perpetual RED-HERRING ARGUMENT that "Windows 98 is obsolete"... true or not... NOT you, NOT I, NOR Microsoft, has any right what-so-ever, to tell ANYONE ELSE when they just HAVE to stop using THEIR OWN PROPERTY. ...And, that includes such flagrant attempts at COERCION.
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
In this case Microsoft has been more than patient
Lets face it...
Windows 98 is very old and archaic. It was fine during its day but its now obsolete. Microsoft has been more than reasonable and far too patient by supporting it this long already. The fact that they are introducing an operating system designed to work with older hardware further shows their commitment to be patient with people.
In the electronics industry computer become outdated within a few years and lets face it windows 98 has been around for alot longer. It is only reasonable to expect themn to let windows 98 die. (Would you expect any auto makers or any other industry to support their products as long as Microsoft has)???
Posted by dogger596 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually, "auto makers" are required BY LAW to do so...
I believe Federal-Law requires "auto makers" to be able to provide spare parts for automobiles for a LOT longer than 9-years. This was done, QUITE SPECIFICALLY, to prevent EXACTLY THIS TYPE of artificially-imposed obsolescence, which would allow the "...UNFAIR market-manipulation of consumers".

So, the example of "Auto makers" is completely flawed from the outset.

Furthermore, Microsoft DOES have a reasonable-responsibility to FIX, the DEFECTIVE-PRODUCTS that they sold to consumers. Microsoft, in their "support", is NOT providing "new" features or "help" in using the product. They are primarily "patching", and otherwise STILL REPAIRING, FLAWS that are still present (in an, apparently, rather large consumer-base) since the original-purchase of the Microsoft-product.

Also, I am NOT just talking about Microsoft deciding when Microsoft should be allowed to "end support" for previous products. I am pointing out that consumers should not be PRESSURED into buying new-products, and services, because a company has simply decided it wants more revenue, which is the CRUX of this matter.

So, Microsoft is NOT "...being reasonable". They are doing, as they have always done, attempting to mis-use their power to further their OWN ENDS, ...to the, in my opinion, SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE of CONSUMERS.

Finally, in response to the seemingly-perpetual RED-HERRING ARGUMENT that "Windows 98 is obsolete"... true or not... NOT you, NOT I, NOR Microsoft, has any right what-so-ever, to tell ANYONE ELSE when they just HAVE to stop using THEIR OWN PROPERTY. ...And, that includes such flagrant attempts at COERCION.
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
 

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