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What to do with machines running WinXP that CANNOT be upgraded to Win7 (critical software issues) ? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,

    I start this thread although I know there is a lot of discussions about the end of support to WinXP and the problems it creates, but I wish addressing a very specific point and avoiding to get lost in a lot of general discussions about the end of support to WinXP.

    The specific problem is this one.

    We have several WinXP machines that are mainly used for piloting scientific instruments.  Three problems here:

    1. the corresponding softwares are very specific and most of them run only on "real" WinXP (i.e. they do not work on Win7 even under WinXP compatibility mode) because they use specific instructions that are not recognized in Win7 AND/OR need specific drivers that cannot be installed under Win7 (compatibility issues).  For some of these softwares, the vendor may offer an upgrade, but the cost is often VERY high (we often speak about 1,000 to 5,000 euros !) because those softwares are often "custom-built". Also, sometimes the software has been discontinued and the company simply proposes a migration to their new software, but this requires an upgrade of the instrument, which makes the whole cost even more prohibitive. 

    2. Many of these machines serve only to pilot the instrument and, therefore, are not affected by the "software obesity syndrome" that cripples other machines over time (i.e. difficulties for handling more and more complex and obese programs).  Apart from the specific software that pilot the instrument, all we often need is just an EXCEL program (and EXCEL 97 will work) to export the data.  Therefore, everything may work fine with older CPUs and low amounts of RAM, but this makes upgrade to Win7 impossible unless upgrading the machine it-self.      

    3. While some of these machines can be disconnected from Internet (and run as isolated computers), several cannot because they must either collect validation keys for their software to run (which is one way the software vendor knows who does what with his/her program and prevents unauthorized [aka unpaid] use of the software) and/or they musts access remote servers and data bases to get or send the necessary information.  

    So, to make the point here, there are several compelling reasons to keep those machines under WinXP after support is being discontinued.

    What would be the most practical, and if possible, as safe as possible way to do this.

    My personal option would be

    - to place these machines in a private LAN that connects to Internet through a router that only allows outbound traffic (inbound traffic could be allowed only through specific ports and for specific softwares [i.e., for collecting data]) ;

    - to have their common softwares (such as FireFox to access Internet or EXCEL to collect data) working in a protected environment (such as what is possible with "Deep Freeze", where nothing is written on the disk and the machine can be restored to its original configuration upon reboot).

    But, will this be sufficient or are they other, better options ?

    Sunday, January 26, 2014 10:03 AM

Answers

    • Marked as answer by bornival Sunday, February 2, 2014 9:43 AM
    Monday, January 27, 2014 5:58 AM
    Moderator
  • I feel that the solution you proposed with the private LAN would be sufficient as long as the DVD drive and USB ports were access controlled to where you could be confident that no one would place disks or drives into them that might be infected with viruses or malware.

     

    Being that you are running scientific equipment with the PCs I can surely understand the cost of upgrades, and that it should be relatively easy to control what gets connected to the PCs.  But while this solution is in place, I would be researching any way possible to accomplish the upgrade ultimately.


    Please do not read this sentence. Please ignore the previous sentence.

    • Marked as answer by bornival Sunday, February 2, 2014 9:28 AM
    Monday, January 27, 2014 4:20 PM

All replies

  • Your systems would be at risk even if you are not connected to internet, for example , if you insert an infected CD/DVD or USB to your PC. In this case, the best option would be contact Microsoft Office in your country and ask them for help. The best thing is start plan for upgrade to new operating system and take a list of your programs and look for alternative solutions.

    Sunday, January 26, 2014 10:48 AM
    • Marked as answer by bornival Sunday, February 2, 2014 9:43 AM
    Monday, January 27, 2014 5:58 AM
    Moderator
  • I feel that the solution you proposed with the private LAN would be sufficient as long as the DVD drive and USB ports were access controlled to where you could be confident that no one would place disks or drives into them that might be infected with viruses or malware.

     

    Being that you are running scientific equipment with the PCs I can surely understand the cost of upgrades, and that it should be relatively easy to control what gets connected to the PCs.  But while this solution is in place, I would be researching any way possible to accomplish the upgrade ultimately.


    Please do not read this sentence. Please ignore the previous sentence.

    • Marked as answer by bornival Sunday, February 2, 2014 9:28 AM
    Monday, January 27, 2014 4:20 PM