Dead in the Water

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-08-17 Print this article Print

Neither event would make me feel all warm and fuzzy about installing the latest patches without a lot of testing. Would I want to explain to my boss why an application that worked on Friday was dead in the water on Monday? No, I dont think I would.
So, when you look at the big picture, you can understand why W2K administrators were reluctant to push Microsofts latest patches to their users.
Still, that last warning, and the news that exploits were prowling around, would have had me patching my systems anyway. But, lets take a long, hard look at an even bigger picture: using Windows period in a business. Keeping up on the endless stream of critical Windows fixes, even with Windows patch management tools like my personal favorite, is hard work. And thats before you even consider having to test your applications for interoperability over and over again as the new patches keep coming. Many of the businesses still using W2K are doing so for the pragmatic reason that their older hardware could no more support XP than it could Mac OS Tiger. Its neither easy nor cheap to switch to a new operating system. So, if youre in a company thats just been Zotobed, what should you do? Get ready to move to Microsoft Vista? Please, who knows when it will actually show up, and Im still waiting for someone to explain to me whats in it thats really worthwhile. Click here to read more from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols about Microsofts Vista. Oh, and you do have a big, fat hardware budget dont you? As it happens, Laura DiDio, Yankee Group research fellow, can help you find some of the answers. She just wrote in an interesting piece on Linux vs. Windows that I think many of you will find very helpful. "If you do not know what is on your network, if you cannot at least estimate the hourly, monthly or yearly cost of downtime, if you do not know how long it takes to recover from a security outage, if you cannot answer questions about the extent of your companys license compliance, then you cannot truly evaluate whether Linux, Windows or Unix is right for your business," DiDio wrote. Now, DiDio, for those of you who dont know, is usually seen as being anti-Linux. I, as most of you probably know, am often seen as being pro-Linux. What we both really are, I think, is were pro-what works. So, read DiDios article, analyze what your real costs are now and what theyre going to be. Id just like to point out, as you start that exercise that in all the years Ive been running both Windows and Linux, Ive seen about five times as many failures on Windows that I have on Linux. I havent gotten a virus on either one, but then I spend a lot of time and money on making sure that my Windows machines are close to untouchable. At the same time, Ive seen many peoples personal machines and corporate networks go down to Zotob, Sasser, Sober, Blaster, and so on and so on and... You do the math. After you do that, heres a little guide I did on picking out the right Linux desktop for you or your business. Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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