Ahh the Good Old Days…Wait a Sec…Any Last Words For XP?

A couple of weeks ago, I visited a systems integrator in Montreal, Canada and saw a great piece of artwork in one of their conference rooms. See pic below.

kyle 1

As a controls/IT guy-turned-project manager then product marketer, I loved this for it’s a great fusion between technology and art (a bit of sarcasm here for real art lovers). It made me think of the good old days, 15-ish years ago for me, when I started doing PLC/SCADA stuff and ran around a plant backing up SCADA systems. I remember amazing customers on how I did it so efficiently via dos commands (anyone remember xcopy??) spanning the backups over a number of 3.5’’ floppies…then we got an iOmega zip drive so the annoyance of spanning went away. Then we got the all mighty external HP CD-Writer, and life was great.

Fast forward 15 years and as the amazing piece of art that I saw reminded me of how we’ve continued to adopt new storage technology relatively fast for its vastly improved. I might be sounding old here, but we all take things like a 32gb USB disk retailing for $19.99 for granted. In the last couple of years, we’re now seeing massive growth of cloud-based companies like dropbox.com, google drive, and box.com, which allow you to easily store 10GB+ for free. BTW – Side note on Dropbox’s current market valuation, estimated at $10B! Yeah that’s a “B”…and it simply stores files.

Anyways, after Montreal, I then went onto Denver for more meetings and while waiting for my flight, I caught a tweet on how there is an estimated 500 million active users of Windows® XP® and that the official “death of XP” is just days away (April 8th, 2014 in fact). I thought, “Why haven’t operating systems been adopted as quickly as new storage technologies?”

kyle 2The scary part is, shortly after I read that tweet, I saw that the operator screen at the end of the jetway, where they have that human machine interface (HMI) so technicians can line it up to the entrance of the airplane, had its screen saver up and guess what was on it? Yup…that one screen saver we all know and love – the XP one!

Why are they sitting on a decade old operating system? I’d bet it hasn’t been patched for years because it simply works! Now people can endlessly debate the effects of keeping systems on XP and the potential negative impact it could have on your business. But the argument I always hear is that there is no worry because the systems are not connected to the internet.

Perhaps the better question is, “What am I missing by keeping on old dog XP?” I believe it’s just narrow minded to think you can keep that system on XP forever….but I realize industry needs quantifiable drivers to act. There are many drivers for industry to keep up with modern operating systems, as the software (no matter the vendor) running on these systems have had many improvements, additions and enhancements.  It’s not about new OS features driving an upgrade; it’s about all the new HMI/SCADA software features and components that could drive you to update these old dogs.

New “core” innovations from all the market leaders have occurred in graphics, networking, storage, security, project updating/managing, health monitoring and more. Not to mention if you upgrade the OS and HMI/SCADA, you’ll have that support for new hardware in case of catastrophic failure.

So just like the evolution of storage media, I believe we as an industry need to keep up with OS’s, and that’s driven by innovations in the software that’s on top of it. As a realist, I understand it’s more complicated and harder to do than moving from a zip drive to a USB stick. But the death of XP is a great wake up call to just consider an upgrade project that’s justified by the latest HMI/SCADA innovations.

To explore what’s new with our HMI/SCADA products, visit Industrial Automation (HMI/SCADA) Software Solutions. Or contact us and we’ll fill you in.

Kyle Reissner

Kyle believes that we’re on the cusp of an industrial mobile revolution. As a member of the Global Product Management team at GE, Kyle focuses on mobile real-time operational intelligence (RtOI) solutions that enable all levels of the industrial workforce to be connected anywhere with the right information at the right time.

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