Major Windows update

I decided to run Windows Update for the first time since I installed Windows 2000 on This Old PC. At the time of install, I went up to Service Pack 4, and I didn’t think it had been long enough to need 44 updates.

But that’s what happened.

So I downloaded them, and they’re installing right now.

Did I mention that I never put in a new CMOS battery? Well, the CMOS settings are holding, except that the clock loses whole days at a time when the box is turned off. I’ll have to get a battery and crack the case soon.

I’m doing the Windows Update process because I’ve been troubled by IE 5.0 crashes, and I figured I’d get things right before either going to 5.5 or IE 6. I’m thinking the system can handle IE 6, but why not give 5.5 a try first — If I can find it. From Microsoft.com, you can only get IE 6 or 7 .

Of course, IE 7 only works on XP and the not-yet-released Vista. And the only other IE still available on Microsoft.com is IE 6, which supposedly will work on everything back to Windows 98. IE 5 and 5.5 don’t seem to be available, and support for them has ceased. So even if you have an old PC, or a very old one, Microsoft will not help you. Even unsupported, older browsers are not available from Microsoft. I think they want to give you every reason in the world to think you absolutely need to buy a new version of Windows and, naturally, the hardware on which to run it.

This kind of thinking works. But I don’t like it one bit. What if I had an old PC running Windows 95 or 98, and I wanted to upgrade to Windows 2000? Could I buy it from Microsoft? No. They only sell XP, no matter what the needs of your hardware. If you’ve got an old PC that can’t handle XP, there’s no help for you. They won’t even take your money. That’s where eBay and other networks of swappers come in. There’s quite a market in used software out there. Everything from operating systems to office suites, graphics programs, utilities packages, etc., for every era of computing, is pretty much out there and out for bid. So if you want Windows 2000 on CD, Microsoft won’t get a penny — and some guy with a deep shelf full of obsolete crap is more than willing to sell it to you. If you need it, I suggest you buy it. For the Macintosh, Low End Mac‘s swap list is invaluable. I don’t know if the same thing exists for PCs, but if it doesn’t, it very well should.

I’ve gotta tell you, if you need old Microsoft software, and MS will only sell you versions that won’t run on your old hardware, there’s no harm in buying it used — or using someone else’s ancient discs to install it on your PC. If Microsoft is orphaning this stuff (with Apple doing the same thing, albeit to a lesser extent), why should they care what happens to it? It seems to be a dilemma for them. If they continued to sell and support older versions, they’d be admitting that their users might not need the latest update. But by disavowing these older editions of software, they are giving the message that they don’t care what happens to those products, or what people are doing with them.

Shifting gears, but keeping the above in mind, I still have to say, in the race between 1998 PC (Pentium II MMX 333 MHz) and 1996 Mac (Powerbook 1400cs 117 MHz), the PC by far offers the better longevity for the sole reason that it runs modern browsers — Firefox and IE 6 — and provides a better online experience.

And getting back to the Windows update, since I do have Firefox on this box (and am using it now on Blogger), a working IE isn’t as critical as if I hadn’t installed the browser everybody else is using. But if I do need this computer to post to the Daily News Web site, I’ll need a working, stable IE, since the Web-posting system requires it and won’t work on anything else.