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Windows Businesses Medicine Software The Almighty Buck Upgrades

Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade 953

Posted by samzenpus
from the high-cost-of-upgrading dept.
colinneagle writes "During a recent trip to an eye doctor, I noticed that she was still using Windows XP. After I suggested that she might need to upgrade soon, she said she couldn't because she couldn't afford the $10,000 fee involved with the specialty medical software that has been upgraded for Windows 7. Software written for medical professionals is not like mass market software. They have a limited market and can't make back their money in volume because there isn't the volume for an eye doctor's database product like there is for Office or Quicken. With many expecting Microsoft's upcoming end-of-support for XP to cause a security nightmare of unsupported Windows devices in the wild, it seems a good time to ask how many users may fall into the category of wanting an upgrade, but being priced out by expensive but necessary third-party software. More importantly, can anything be done about it?"
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Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade

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  • I'm gonna say... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:16PM (#43519117)

    VMWare.

    • by HaeMaker (221642) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:18PM (#43519141) Homepage

      That helps with hardware incompatibility but not security.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#43519161)

      It's possible that the machine is actually more of an embedded system, acting as a front-end for a device whose drivers won't work in a VM.

      dom

      • It's possible that the machine is actually more of an embedded system, acting as a front-end for a device whose drivers won't work in a VM.

        dom

        If it's a really embedded system, upgrading it is going to happen with a forklift or with not-inexpensive cooperation from the vendor.

        If it's just an unsupported peripheral, contemporary virtualization software can(with an IOMMU) actually attach a physical device to a VM's bus. Very cute.

      • Re:I'm gonna say... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by HideyoshiJP (1392619) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:13PM (#43519863)
        This is potentially the case, but I've also seen numerous products in the medical field that won't run on Windows 7 because of poor decisions made during development. As an example, there is a piece of software (that's nearly up to date) that requires a specific version of Microsoft Forms Controls 2.0 (fm20.dll) and will encounter a memory error even on an up to date Windows XP example. Their tech support actually instructs you to replace the library in the Windows directory. Luckily, we're not complete tools and simply used redirection to an older copy in the executable's directory. Luckily, this is one case where we were able to find a workaround. There are so many poorly coded or managed pieces of software in the medical field it's difficult to stay up to date and not go broke. I've seen products developed by some amateur in VB without thought to which control he/she should be using (Hey! Forms 1.0, .net and an IE frame with an embedded apache page all in the same application form - why not!?). I've also seen those with MSI installers improperly coded that will fail to install on a 64-bit OS, requiring repackaging or extensive modification. Then there's the products managers purchased that rely on MS Office macros (my favorite!). These things are far more common than they should be, especially when Microsoft has entire documentation libraries and communities that can help developers/product managers adhere to best practices, even in advance of new product releases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:18PM (#43519137)

    They have a limited market and can't make back their money in volume because there isn't the volume for an eye doctor's database product like there is for Office or Quicken.

    Kind of like college textbooks?

    *ducks*

    • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday April 22, 2013 @07:54PM (#43520805)

      Some industrial stuff is still on ISA cards.

      It's just that to go to new stuff needs lot's of change to work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:19PM (#43519149)

    Who cares if XP is unpatched?
    Special dental application to track intervention history, show X-rays associated, etc should not communicate with the internet.
    Same goes to timetables / reservations.
    If they need machines connected for mobility : make an internal network.

    I don't see such a problem here.

    • The sibling post made the point about finding replacement parts for when things die. That was always my motivation for a complete system upgrade - something dieing and needing to be replaced without me digging deep enough to find something that would work with the old system.

      Secondly, some things do need to be connected to the internet. Sure you can make an internal network, but what if you need to connect to another doctor's office? What if you need to connect to any other doctor using the same software?

    • by DerekLyons (302214) <`fairwater' `at' `gmail.com'> on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:52PM (#43519577) Homepage

      I don't see such a problem here.

      Since you have no experience with the software - of course you don't see a problem. You just wave your magic wand from your ivory tower and state that it "should not connect to the internet", and *poof* problem solved.

    • It is not easy to segregate networks like this. Remember that the receptionist might need the reservations app, and will probably need Internet access as well. So you're looking at two separate computers on his or her desk. Same with some of the accounting people - they still need to pull documents from the web.

      The military already does this. It's common to have three different computers with different security levels on one desk, all of them air gapped from each other. But you're looking at three switches,
    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:58PM (#43519661)

      Special dental application to track intervention history, show X-rays associated, etc should not communicate with the internet.

      See this is just plain nonsense.

      I'm working with these sorts of customers, and the bottom line is that air-gapping the internal network is absurd. They need things like internet access and email in the various exam rooms at the front desk, in their offices etc. They also need to be able to review exam data in many of these places.

      For example, the front receptionist needs to be able to send and receive email, send out email reminders, email invoices, track shipments online, and other stuff like that. So that computer needs to be online. But they also need to be able to access the patient management system, pull up patient history for invoicing, etc.

      The patient management system is also tied into the medical equipment, as many instruments will submit the captured exams to the patient management system via DICOM and so forth. So that computer also needs to be on the so-called "internal network".

      You want support for a medical instrument / software -- you can't even theoretically take that to futureshop's geeksquad to sort out... but remote support via teamviewer/gotomypc/etc now saves shipping expensive equipment around or flying expensive technicians around in many cases. The equipment has to be online for that. Nevermind that they usually outsource IT because they're pretty small shops that can't support in-house IT, and remote admin / support for routine maintenance is a lot cheaper than onsite.

      Meanwhile doctors want to be able to send exams to partners, manufacturers, consultants, and so forth. Doctors want to back up the data to the cloud. Two computers at every desk, separate networks, and moving the data across an airgap each time would be a major hassle and expense.

      And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

      The software itself has started moving towards cloud storage and cloud backup integration, and there are even patient management systems now that are SaaS. The new and the old collide... people are using 10 year old instruments with new practice management systems and a lot of the new stuff available either outright has to be online, or at best you lose a lot of functionality if it is not.

      I don't see such a problem here.

      That's because you obviously haven't tried to solve it for a real practice in the real world.

      Special dental application to track intervention history, show X-rays associated, etc should not communicate with the internet.

      In the real world it does. Patients like email reminders of their appointments, they like to get emailed copies of their invoices for insurance claims and so forth. Doctors routinely need to send patient records to other doctors, specialists, consultants and so forth. Things need to be backed up offsite -- and online backup is the most practical solution by far for that.

      Many doctors work in mutiple practices, Tuesdays here, Thursday's there... and they want to be able to review and analyze on patients cross-sites so the in some cases mutiple offices are linked via VPNs etc.

      Nobody today would tolerate having all the exams from a particular instrument available only on a single air gapped unit or even an air gapped network.

      • by Lothsahn (221388) <Lothsahn@@@SPAM_ ... u_bastardsyahocm> on Monday April 22, 2013 @07:16PM (#43520493)
        As a small business consultant who has run into this problem a number of times, as you said, airgapping doesn't always work. However, I have one customer who is security conscious and would rather alter his way of doing business than expose customer data and infrastructure to viruses.

        Two separate networks run on two separate switches (yes, VLAN's could have been used, but the switches didn't support them). Each port in the building can be configured to the internal or external network. Wireless is only available on the external network.

        To this end:
        1) The ultrasound computer is airgapped because it's running Windows XP. Specifically, the software for the US machine is very old and only runs on XP, and upgrading would be a $10,000+ purchase (new US machine, not just the software cost).

        2) The records keeping and accounting is separate from the internet. Customer records are only available on the internal network, and not connected directly to the internet. These computers are thin clients with USB mass storage support disabled.

        3) The internet computer is a disposable kiosk computer, which has no access to customer records. If someone wants to look something up (ie. rare disease), that computer is available for that. It's also accessible for emails.

        This has worked remarkably well. In the (extremely rare) event that an US picture needs to be emailed, the US computer is briefly connected to the internet behind a NAT firewall. We've had zero viruses or known intrusions on the internal network in 10 years.

        The doctors at this office are accustomed to the inconveniences that this brings, but they work around those issues. They did business for over 30 years with paper records, and they see no need to switch. The idea that some sensitive data gets leaked or hacked is more important than the minor efficiency gains they could achieve. However, this is a rare case. Most of my customers demand all their computers be internet-connected.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Problem is if that machine breaks it is pretty hard to buy a replacement running XP as new. It would have to be a custom build. It will only get harder as driver support dries up for new hardware and second hand machines become increasingly likely to be running Vista (which is six years old now).

      At least in Windows 7 there was XP mode which worked very well. It was removed from Windows 8.

      This has all happened before of course. Years ago I had a customer who owned a vinyl sign cutting machine with a parallel

  • Certification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:20PM (#43519159) Journal

    I bet a lot of that $10k fee is due to the software requiring FDA certification.

    • Re:Certification (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nadaka (224565) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:24PM (#43519215)

      Yea, its not like medical software errors ever killed anybody. Eh Therac-25?

      • Re:Certification (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nametaken (610866) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:09PM (#43519795)

        You can probably count on one hand all the directly life critical software running as a regular app on XP, in the whole world.

        It's very unlikely there's anything at the eye doctor's office that falls in that category. This is a case of simple vendor lock-in. That's all.

        • Re:Certification (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Holi (250190) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:31PM (#43520051)

          Your right, it's probably running on NT4 or something like that. I have seen many instances of embedded NT or 2000 still in use in the medical field. (Radiology labs is where I see it but I would guess that maturity and stability of the software and drivers negates the need for upgrades in many medical devices)

        • Re:Certification (Score:5, Interesting)

          by geoskd (321194) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:46PM (#43520205)

          You can probably count on one hand all the directly life critical software running as a regular app on XP, in the whole world.

          It's very unlikely there's anything at the eye doctor's office that falls in that category. This is a case of simple vendor lock-in. That's all.

          The problem is that the software takes significant time to write. Lets say it takes a team of three programmers 1 year to write. Now, say that its a blockbuster, and 1/3 of all opticians use it. You're only talking about a couple thousand copies total. Maybe a thousand copies a year. Now, you also have to have someone do tech support and maintenance. So, You paid $300,000 to develop the software, and are paying $100,000 per year in maintenance. to sell 1000 copies per year. (Thats a very high estimate btw). So, at break even, with no other company overhead, your product costs $400. Now if you take a more realistic view that most opticians already have the software they need, your annual sales expectation is probably more like 100 units, not 1000, and now you're looking at a $4000 price tag.

          Before you start talking open source, blah blah, lets not forget that this is a highly specialized application with very little general appeal, and no geek factor. The best you could hope for would be a project that somewhat resembles what you want and pay (by the hour I might add) to have someone adapt it to your needs. This quickly adds up too.

          All that having been said, the solution is actually simpler than it sounds. Good XP emulation is not that hard to find. WINE already does a pretty good job of it, and is unlikely to be end-of-lifed any time soon. It is likely that the best alternative for these boutique operations is to switch to Ubuntu or Debian with WINE, and be reasonably certain that they can survive the next hardware upgrade. It wont be cheap, but it will be better than $10k for a new copy of xyz opticiansoft, and it will be M$ proof.

    • Re:Certification (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@gmail. c o m> on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:27PM (#43519233) Homepage

      I bet a lot of that $10k fee is due to the software requiring FDA certification.

      Oh that wouldn't surprise me, back oh 15 years ago I helped due a transition from paper to electronic. It was right up along the lines of $38k here in Canada for the software. And my family doctor just dumped their old version of Wolf Medical to a new version, total cost for 6 computers? $118k.

    • Re:Certification (Score:5, Informative)

      by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:27PM (#43519235)

      On the off chance you're not trolling:

      Just because the example in the summary is a medical example doesn't mean that they're the only types of software that are expansive. I use some $20k/seat engineering software that isn't certified by anybody except me knowing what it's doing and putting my own name to it. Stop looking for big-government boogey men under every bed.

      • Re:Certification (Score:5, Informative)

        by Synerg1y (2169962) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:43PM (#43519455)

        Coincidentally, you've never worked in the medical industry. The software itself may cost $5-$10k, then the SEPARATE cost of validation tacks on that 20k.

        • Re:Certification (Score:4, Interesting)

          by puto (533470) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:58PM (#43519647) Homepage
          I used to sell practice management.billing software in the 1990s, and what I found out, that a doctor who was clearing 30k a month in his practice, after all expenses paid, including his salary, was loath to spend 25k to modernize his office, and increase his billing revenue by 10%. Doctors are cheap. An ophthalmologist who cannot afford 10k is probably not one I would go to. One thing Windows did for the medical billing world was force traditional Unix vendors of billing software was to lower their price and up their game.
          • by amiga3D (567632) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:40PM (#43520155)

            Most of the Doctors I know have 2 or 3 ex wives and several child support payments that eat up a lot of their money. Then there is the current wife and mistress.

          • Re:Certification (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nonameisgood2 (2661533) on Monday April 22, 2013 @07:28PM (#43520591)
            But doctors in small towns (population 10k or less), barely scraping by because half of the population is at or below poverty level, are paying the same as those in this big city. They all have to meet the same federal mandate to bill electronically (which requires internet access to a clearinghouse) and provide electronic medical records to insurers and other doctors as needed. And I do the IT from 400 miles away, also requiring that I have remote access. I found an excellent package for about $5k, for my wife's practice, but it is tailored to the small to mid-sized practice. We also pay $2k/yr for maintenance and updates. But it's on MacOS, an OS which is now mature enough to avoid software-shaking changes from year to year. (macpractice.com)
    • Re:Certification (Score:5, Informative)

      by tftp (111690) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:30PM (#43519259) Homepage

      No, I don't think that a housekeeping database that doesn't ever touch the patient needs an FDA approval. Not any more than MS Windows or MS Office do, at least.

      A $10K price is a common sight in niche markets. Even in non-niche markets specialty s/w, especially with lock-in, command prices of $20K and above. Have this here CNC milling center? Then you need SolidWorks and MasterCAM (or whatever CAM you pick.) That may easily cost you about half the price of the machine.

      The price is driven by the need and the opportunity. The need lies in fact that a very complex piece of software has to be designed for sale to a handful of customers. A smaller ISV may see tens of sales per YEAR, and each of those customers will bitch and moan about economic downturn, trolling for a discount. The ISV needs the high price to stay afloat, and to survive periods between orders.

      The opportunity lies in fact that the customer has to have this software - if not yours then one from your two competitors; and you know how to play that game. The prices will be set to the maximum that the customer can afford.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      I bet a lot of that $10k fee is due to the software requiring FDA certification.

      Not really, although FDA, Health Canada, EMEA (Europe), TGA (Australia), SFDA (China), etc... do definitely take a toll.

      But quite simply a lot of that $10k fee comes from having to pay people qualified to write the interface software for medical devices which frequently sell fewer than a 1000 copies a year.

      And to develop, support, and write a Windows Vista/7/8 update for a 10 year old medical instrument. That's targeting an even

  • Disable Networking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jacobsm (661831) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:22PM (#43519189)

    Prevent those few computers that are running the program from touching the Internet in anyway. No networking services, web, email, ... or anything else. Make them strictly one function standalone devices.

  • Specialty Software (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jasnw (1913892) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:26PM (#43519223)
    A lot of "professional" users of computers (doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc) seem to think that they gotta have really special software to handle everything they do, because everything they do is so special. Much of this is due to people who think they're smart being duped by people who are smarter into thinking they need special software. Is the solution here that these professionals need to do a better job of buying their IT support in the first place? Admittedly, there is certainly some software that has to be written for very narrow and specialized needs, but a lot of these needs can be met by pretty much off-the-shelf solutions implemented by people who know what they're doing. I think these professionals start off by trying to do it themselves (because they are smart, you know?), find that it's not as easy as they thought, and then buy into the pitch that they need REALLY smart IT people doing specialized stuff for them. I'd laugh at all this, but it's part of why our health care costs so damn much.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:40PM (#43519401)

      A lot of "professional" users of computers (doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc) seem to think that they gotta have really special software to handle everything they do, because everything they do is so special. Much of this is due to people who think they're smart being duped by people who are smarter into thinking they need special software. Is the solution here that these professionals need to do a better job of buying their IT support in the first place? Admittedly, there is certainly some software that has to be written for very narrow and specialized needs, but a lot of these needs can be met by pretty much off-the-shelf solutions implemented by people who know what they're doing. I think these professionals start off by trying to do it themselves (because they are smart, you know?), find that it's not as easy as they thought, and then buy into the pitch that they need REALLY smart IT people doing specialized stuff for them. I'd laugh at all this, but it's part of why our health care costs so damn much.

      Well I can certainly tell that you're not a physician, as a physician I can tell you that you have no idea how many limitations, restrictions, and compliance requirements exist in medical software. The issue isn't that you need these things, sure you could host your patient information on Google docs, but when someone breaks into that it can cost you 250K per patient that is lost, there isn't an upper limit on that either, I don't see that many doctors with that kind of cash willing to take those risks. I am not saying it is better to be running on unsupported systems, but it isn't like you can go download some mysql database and front-end designed to organize your DVD collection and safely store patient information. Also most doctors don't have the time or knowledge to do it well themselves so they are stuck with what is 1) out there, and 2) compliant.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fredprado (2569351)
        If the financial risk for data disclosure is so great you shouldn't be running windows at all.
    • Specialty software is necessary for doctors, lawyers, and bankers because of all the applicable regulations. Doctors have to deal with HIPAA, which sets strict rules for the protection of privacy of patient information. Have you noticed that when you fill a prescription at Costco's pharmacy, the receipt doesn't say what it's for, and the pharmacist simply staples the bag shut? That's HIPAA compliance. Similarly, doctors can't just use Dropbox to store information because it might get hacked. Lawyers have to

  • Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BetterSense (1398915) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:31PM (#43519281)
    I work in a very large semiconductor fab that is full of dozens, probably hundreds, of DOS, Windows 2000, Windows 98, Windows ME, and Windows XP machines. They will never be upgraded or patched.

    Is this stupid? Yes. Is there anything I can do about it? No.

    I just got done negotiating the purchase of a 2-million-dollar piece of equipment that comes with Windows. We actually have a purchasing requirement that all software be provided with patches as necessary, including OS upgrades, and that all source code be held in escrow in case the company goes under. However, when we negotiate the purchase specs, those lines get crossed out, because the vendor refuses to comply and we have no leverage, so we buckle.

    Personally I think that anyone who uses something like Windows (a desktop OS with known, SHORT service lifetime, suitable for desktop computing in non-critical applications) in an industrial tool with 10+ year lifetime, should be fired immediately, and this should have been the case from the very beginning, but I was not around back then, and it became acceptable. Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft, even when it's an idiotic thing to do.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Personally I think that anyone who uses something like Windows (a desktop OS with known, SHORT service lifetime, suitable for desktop computing in non-critical applications) in an industrial tool with 10+ year lifetime, should be fired immediately

      What is your alternative? Unix? You might get 10+ years service life if you are willing to provide that service yourself, back-porting security patches to an ancient version of the kernel or re-certifying your app on a new one.

      Any device with an OS, in fact any device that has a network port or USB socket is going to be vulnerable and need a constant and endless supply of patches for decades. The only sensible thing is to isolate it.

  • Yes, something can be done about it. Not overnight, but it can be done.

    What?

    Use Open Source.

    Your either need to pay 10.000 because it really costs 10.000 in which case you wouldn't be making a case out of it, you would just pay for it as part as your making business costs, or it doesn't costs 10.000 but you end paying 10.000 because third parties controlling your business instead of you.

    If you think you are in the second case, just ally with other "eye doctors" and make a software factory to produce the software in your behalf as open sourced. On one hand, you'll pay the real cost; on the other, the old producers will be forced to either down their prices to the new market standard or fold down. Any case, a win-win situation.

    • If you think you are in the second case, just ally with other "eye doctors" and make a software factory to produce the software in your behalf as open sourced. On one hand, you'll pay the real cost; on the other, the old producers will be forced to either down their prices to the new market standard or fold down. Any case, a win-win situation.

      This is what I was thinking as well; just get together with peers in a similar situation, and 'Kickstart' an OSS version of the program, thus forever freeing yourselves from the shackles of proprietary software.

      Plus, if you do it right and the software is good stuff, you might even be able make a few extra bucks on the side selling an enterprise version or support.

    • And if the software fails or does nasty things to your medical data... who are you going to sue? Have you even looked at F/OSS EULAs? I have seen a few EULAs for Windows-based medical software and upon buying the software, there's actually some (not perfect but some) accountability from the vendor. You can sue them if they mess up.

  • Very common (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:32PM (#43519297)

    My old hospital was hit by this already. They couldn't afford an enterprise license from Microsoft that allows them to pick which version of windows to install on their PC's, (hundreds of thousands of dollars), some of our critical EMR software was only XP compatibe and would not work on WIndows7. When Microsoft quit selling XP and wouldn't allow us to downgrade our Windows 7 systems, we were in a bind. We were able to find some XP licenses in the wild but still are between a rock and a hard place. FDA certification for our EMR vendors is a pain and moving to the new version of windows is hard. I have no idea how we will overcome the sunsetting of XP.
     

  • by dhavleak (912889) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:34PM (#43519321)

    In the linked article, the doctor couldn't afford to upgrade her specialty medical software.

    1. It's unlikely that the version she currently uses does not run on Win7
    2. It's unlikely that the version she would upgrade to does not run on XP
    3. It's likely that the upgrade would cost $10,000 even if she wasn't changing OS versions

    So what does this have to do with Windows? Nothing. The only information in the article is that specialty software can be very expensive. That fact stands alone and would do so on any OS and any version.

    Has Slashdot become this gullible??

    • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:50PM (#43519557)

      1. It's unlikely that the version she currently uses does not run on Win7

      If she tried firing it up on Windows 7, it would probably run, yes, although having it fail is more likely than you might think. But it's not *certified* on Windows 7, so she can't do that. She likely would be legally liable if she did.

      2. It's unlikely that the version she would upgrade to does not run on XP

      Same deal as #1. It's not certified, you can't do that.

      3. It's likely that the upgrade would cost $10,000 even if she wasn't changing OS versions

      Yes, but she doesn't need to upgrade unless she changes the OS.

      • by dhavleak (912889)

        1. It's unlikely that the version she currently uses does not run on Win7

        If she tried firing it up on Windows 7, it would probably run, yes, although having it fail is more likely than you might think. But it's not *certified* on Windows 7, so she can't do that. She likely would be legally liable if she did.

        You simply do not know that. The guy that wrote the linked article doesn't know that. He in fact, doesn't even state that it isn't the case. It seems like important information don't you think? He could have erased any doubt by simply stating the name of the software and the version. But that would be counter-productive since it would probably demolish the premise of his idiotic article.

        2. It's unlikely that the version she would upgrade to does not run on XP

        Same deal as #1. It's not certified, you can't do that.

        You're stating with so much confidence something that you simply do not know. It's absolutely not unheard of to

        3. It's likely that the upgrade would cost $10,000 even if she wasn't changing OS versions

        Yes, but she doesn't need to upgrade unless she changes the OS.

        You don

  • Bad example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxrubyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:36PM (#43519341)

    This is a really bad example to make your case. She has HIPAA data and needs to upgrade as her computer can't be patched anymore next year. No sympathy for someone with HIPAA data trying to get out of patching their system.

    Now, if you had picked an example of someone who didn't have HIPAA data I'd point to options that could be done. However to be frank I am all out of sympathy for anyone in this situation. Microsoft announced end of life on this a very long time ago and frankly gave a lot longer on the EOL and support for the OS than Mac or any of the Linux variants.

    This reminds me of the gas station owners put out of business by the new standards for underground tanks. They had years of advanced notice, yet they still refused to modernize something critical to their business that they knew they needed to. Time came that they could no longer be grandfathered in and all of a sudden a bunch of stations went out of business.

    Why, because they didn't want to spend money for tanks that were resistant to leaks that could ruin the environment? A doctor that doesn't want to spend money to help prevent leaks (patient data) is no better than the gas station owner. It's a business expense just like any other and a business owner that refuses to give IT it's due as they should. Quit supporting IT neglect by helping people like this out.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:06PM (#43519767)

      They announced their end of life date on the day of release. MS sets EOL 10 years from day of release on their OSes. Now, in the case of XP, it was extended. They do that sometimes. However 10 years is the norm, it is what you can count on, so it is what you plan for. Like with Windows 8 we already know the end of support date: 10/1/2023. It is always possible that will get extended, but it very well may not. So if you put an 8 system in place now, you know when you need to start thinking upgrade (at the latest).

      MS is real, real, good with the support lifecycle thing. They have a standard policy, and current information is always available on their site. So planning for when upgrades need to happen is not hard.

      The XP drop dead date has been a long time in coming, and is still over a year out. There has been, and still is, plenty of time to deal with it.

  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:37PM (#43519351)

    Just because a piece of software needs to run on an obsolete operating system, it doesn't mean that should be their main operating system. Stick it in a VM and don't attach it to the network unless necessary.

  • A Dickhead's Idiom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:44PM (#43519473) Homepage Journal

    You made your bed, now lie in it.

  • by reallocate (142797) on Monday April 22, 2013 @05:59PM (#43519667)

    The problem is not XP. The problem is speciality software vendors charging ten grand for a software update.

    This kind of stuff is why it costs the rest of us $2120.14 to have a hangnail treated at our MD.

  • by Udo Schmitz (738216) on Monday April 22, 2013 @06:03PM (#43519733) Journal
    Very often I noticed that the industry software some small businesses use could be replaced with more standard solutions. I recently had to deal with a stonemason and his software. These days they plot stencils and sandblast the letters. I didn’t like the few fonts he offered for tombstones and there was no way to make a file for him he could import. As it turned out he would have had to buy an additional (very expensive) module for the program he uses to import other fonts or any vector graphic format at all. During my research I discovered that his “special stone mason software” was more or less a repackaged plotter software which would be more powerful and cheaper if bought directly from the source.
  • by cmholm (69081) <cmholm@NOSPaM.mauiholm.org> on Monday April 22, 2013 @07:21PM (#43520537) Homepage Journal

    TFA was fine, until the writer threw this in:

    And you have to remember that medical professionals are already reeling from a huge medical equipment tax courtesy of ObamaCare. One physical therapist told me of 14 medical centers that shut down because they couldn't handle the tax. And that's in Orange County. This area isn't exactly poor.

    I call BS. That huge tax is 2.3%. The "14 medical centers" is an offhand rumor that doesn't pass the sniff test. In related news, a number of medical device manufacturers are blaming the device tax for their decisions to move existing and/or new plants overseas.... a tax that falls on all devices, regardless of where they're made. If Mr. Patrizio (or his Network World editor) don't like the PPACA, they can go to town. But, some research would have been nice.

  • by ikhider (2837593) on Monday April 22, 2013 @09:54PM (#43521471)
    Windows had its time and place and it has now passed. Now the medical community ought to embrace GNU opensource and use this Windows experience as a lesson. Proprietary systems are not there for public benefit.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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