Should you buy Windows XP now?

by Tom Adelstein

One of the concerns system administrators might consider involves the upcoming release of Vista. You may not consider it a concern for a number of reasons, especially if you only focus on Linux and avoid Windows. At some point we generally have to deal with the Windows desktop.

Like previous versions of Windows, the older version goes off the shelves immediately. Microsoft will recall Windows XP. At that time, your choice becomes a desktop OS that will take some years to gain general adoption in business.

Windows 98SE, for example, has a significant user base today. It runs fairly well on Pentium III slot 1 450-550 Mhz processors. Most of those machines had maximum memory limitations of 384 MB. Ten years after the release of Win 98SE, it continues to run on those machines. And, many of those machines haven't quit. Why the Intel 845 chip set and its slot 1 processor performed so well and for so long is a mystery, But it did and does.

What about the installed base of Windows XP Professional? Many companies will continue using it and if you need to use it for whatever reason, a legal copy will become a difficult acquisition,

So, why am I concerned about Windows desktops? In the US, the Linux desktop is not gaining market share. Some say that Apple's Mac OS X hasn't gained much either. In art and production departments, education and with media companies the Mac still has a solid following. But, the salesman on the go, the worker in the office and the executive writing his next report or creating his next presentation all use Windows. You'll also find Windows in the small market where devices like the Treo 650 live in places like hospitals running diagnostic applications. Hey, I've seen them and they're popular.

Linux continues to gain market share in the server arena and data center. But, it will not replace Windows servers completely. One example to consider, Cingular cell phones now come with an Exchange email client. Predictions have come true - the Windows device coupled with Exchange may become the Blackberry killer especially when the low price, easily replaceable cell phone runs Redmond's mail client by default.

Recently, I had to run a simulated environment with Mac OS X 10.3, Windows 98SE & XP and Linux desktops. The Local network server ran Fedora Core 5 and Fedora Directory Server. The Linux desktop ran Ubuntu 6.06 because they needed to run on Pentium III slot 1 boxes. SUSE 10.1 and Fedora barely installed on the old hardware. That put a scare in my argument for replacing Win 98 with Linux. Ubuntu did install easily but couldn't keep up with Win 98 on the same equipment.

The Mac ran well on the old PPCs. So, they aren't going anywhere. The client needs to run software you won't find optimum on anything Windows and not at all on Linux.

I usually auction off software I use for pilots. Once I'm finished with simulations, I typically put the hardware and software on eBay, But not this time, We'll see more requests for simulations and the test environment will include a new entry called Vista. I'm betting that Vista adoption will take a long, long time.

If you have to do this sort of thing (and I think we'll see an uptake in people wanting to test alternatives), then get yourself a copy of XP Pro now before they leave the shelves forever. I'm giving my trial copy a rest and going for the retail version.

Finally, I'm starting to tire of the comment clowns. While I like solid feedback from professionals, the last bean head who recommended that I start taking meds and fade off into the sunset put an end to the interactive mode. I found the guy at If you know him say hello for me and tell him he can find the type of people he wants to engage over at slashdot or digg. Those 14 year olds will welcome him with open arms.