The end for Windows 98 may be a boost to linux?



There are articles out about the demise of official Windows 98 and ME support would be a boost to linux uptake. Realistically, I suppose it may, but I personally am not holding my breath. Here’s why. 1) The people still running Windows 98/ME are likely doing so because that’s what came with their PC. There is a common perception that ~6 is a point where they might replace it anyway with a new pc. 2) IF you’re running Windows98 on original equipment (as opposed to someone that opted for 98 instead of xp on a slightly newer system, or has upgraded from the original equipment.) You might be frustrated with the performance of MOST linux distributions on your equipment. Let’s face it, linux can run on most anything, but most of the distributions that people HEAR about focus on newer hardware….


Of course, there is Xubuntu a desktop from the Ubuntu project for lighter hardware. There are many livecd’s that are slimmer and suitable for older hardware, so I suspect there is some hope there. 3) Most of the people I know still running Windows 98/ME are doing so, in part, because of a resistance to change… the “if it’s not broken, why fix it” approach. 4) I would like to think that without security updates people would be concerned and move to an OS that has updates forthcoming. Unfortunately, for many of the Windows 98 systems I’ve seen, the only updates have been installed when I’ve visited it for maintenance.

So, to sum up, inertia is a powerful thing. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. IF there were a sudden horrible vulnerability discovered (and targeted) for Windows 98/ME that might change the dynamic, or realistically, the typical “degredation of a windows install” might be enough to push some people over. I think linux is a good alternative to windows for MANY things. There are still some areas that it doesn’t compete well, but those are constantly improving.

The BIGGEST problem though that I see with the way updates are distributed currently (Windows or Linux)…. is the assumption that everyone has a broadband connection. There are MANY that do not have the kind of bandwidth required to pull 50 MB of updates a month off the internet and I don’t know numbers directly, but statistally I would suspect dialup users would tend to be more likely to have Windows 98/ME than broadband users. Especially when you take into account the need to keep antivirus signatures up to date, these days a broadband connection is almost necessary to keep a current pc running in top form.

On the topic of the Windows 98 /ME end of life…. Brian Krebs is accumulating a list of 98/ME friendly security software for those that aren’t planning on abandoning those versions of the OS. He has a good list of free antivirus, trial antivirus, web browsers, free firewalls, and free and trial anti-spyware tools.

So…. if you’re not giving up your Windows 98/ME pc until it gives up thhe ghost, you definitely want to see his article.

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