Windows XP - a two-in-one story

Yesterday, I had posted about how England is paying Microsoft £5.5m to keep the security patches for Windows XP up to date for one more year.

As a reminder, the NHS is their National Health Service -- what Obamacare wants to be when it grows up.

This story was picked up today at Slashdot and one of the commenters had this to say:

Re:... really 13 years to update? (Score:5, Insightful)
Okay, smartarse.
You have a lab microscope that costs £100,000. It's been working for 10 years and does exactly what you need. Attached to it is a PC to do image processing. That PC is supplied as part of the machine and includes one-off software to operate the microscope.

Now you say, of course, just ask how much it costs to get the equivalent software for 7, eh? Simple. But the microscope manufacturer hasn't sold anything to you in ten years. So they'll sell you a Windows 7 version. They'll charge you £90,000 for it. Or for £95,000 they'll sell you it attached to a new microscope worth £90,000 on it's own.

What do you do?

Well, actually you work for the NHS. Which had fuck-all money as it pisses it away on management consultants. So instead of either option, you get fuck-all. Now when the attached PC dies, you need to hope your IT guys have an image. When your IT guys move to Windows 7 for the central system, you better hope it can connect to it to store the images. You can't virtualise it because the DRM on the interface cost the manufacturer at least £10,000 to implement to stop you doing precisely that.

Now you're screwed. You can't put your lab slides into the national health system without a lot of manual pissing about. You can't justify buying just the Windows 7 version of the software / drivers (because you might as well just buy a new microscope, and that would come under buildings budget or medical equipment, not IT upgrades). You can't negotiate them down anywhere near sense. You can't replace the machine and - eventually - it's going to die.

And every year the microscope manufacturer puts up their prices by £10,000.

Now multiply by every hospital in the country.

Now multiply by every piece of large equipment (genetics machines, blood samplers, X-Ray machines, ECG's, MRI's, etc.).

Soon, it just becomes better to leave it the fuck alone and wait until you NEED to do something. Then you can justify it, now that it's broken and you need it. And then you can get the government to step in and negotiate a deal. That's what's happened. And the government have said "For fuck's sake!" and gone to MICROSOFT rather than the multitude of equipment manufacturers.

Think I'm exaggerating? My girlfriend is a geneticist in an NHS hospital. The machine she works on is 15 years old, dog-slow compared to the state of the art, and runs off Windows XP embedded. When it dies, the IT team has to track down an old IDE hard drive to fit into it and image it back. And she has to manually transfer images to the "real" integrated system to put them on patient records.

And the NHS haven't even BEGUN to get off Windows XP on the desktop where she works. Precisely because of, and a contributing factor to, this shit.

This is a two-in-one story.

First -- this is exactly the case. Many other fields are having the same problem. Some of the computer controlled machining tools are running XP as an embedded system -- you never see email or a browser but it is Windows XP controlling your machine and their proprietary software. Are you going to junk a ten year old $300,000 Haas vertical mill that is about half-way paid off so you can do an operating system upgrade? There are ways to isolate these machines from the internet so there is no security risk but the machinist who is sitting at his desk surfing pron emailing clients will also want to log into their machine to see how the job is going or to upload a new job.

I play keyboards and there are some applications that require XP or earlier for operation and there was never any good replacement for them - specifically Sound Diver which was published in 2001, developed a strong fan base. The parent company (EMagic) was purchased by Apple around 2005 and Sound Diver was promptly dropped. I can name a couple others off the top of my head.

Second -- the author makes a telling statement:

Well, actually you work for the NHS. Which had fuck-all money as it pisses it away on management consultants.

I have not been able to find hard numbers (what a surprise) but this 26 Dec 2009 article in the UK Telegraph paints a dismal general picture:

Spending on NHS bureaucracy up 50 per cent
The increases include a 43 per cent rise in the costs of managers, while spending on clerical staff rose by 78 per cent at Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), which decide how NHS funds should be used. Meanwhile, their expenditure on management consultants and temporary staff more than doubled.

Patients' groups accused the Government of wasting "ludicrous and heartbreaking" sums expanding an army of administrators while starving the frontline of resources.

In 2006, ministers promised to cut NHS administration costs by halving the total number of PCTs - the organisations which decide which treatments and medications are funded - from 303 to 150.

In fact, Department of Health figures show that in the four years ending last year, the total amount spent on administration went from £1.43 billion to £2.14 billion - a rise of 49.5 per cent.

This does need to be taken with a grain of salt as the hard numbers are not being given. If there was a budget of 1,000 Quatloos and the administrative costs went from 10 Quatloos to 20 Quatloos, you would be looking at a 200% increase -- from 1% to 2%.
The story goes on:

As the total number of organisations shrunk, the new larger bodies spent more hiring temporary staff and consultants, according to an analysis of the DoH figures by the Conservatives. In total, PCT spending on outside agencies rose from £53 million to £139 million - an increase of 162 per cent.

And more:

"This Labour Government has said an awful lot about putting the patient at the centre of services, but what we find is that the current system puts more and more layers between the patient and their doctor and nurse, and leaves vulnerable people fighting against a system of targets."

This is what we are facing with Obamacare. There is no money to pay for this new law. Sure, they are saying that 7,000,000 people signed up. They do not say that 6,000,000 lost their medical insurance and there is no mention of how many people had their rates increased. The policy I have for Lulu and me is because I worked at MSFT. It is a good policy but it has gone up by $200/month over the last year and co-pays have gone from $15 to $40. Thanks Barry!

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 6, 2014 9:45 PM.

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