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Legacy Computing – Windows through time

DOS Beginnings – the early days of ‘personal computing’

The ‘Personal Computer’ (PC) launched by IBM in 1981 was a breakthrough that revolutionised the workplace, though the early ones were quite limited especially in terms of how to use them and what they displayed. Not only did they have no ‘touch screens’ for ‘swiping’ and ‘apps’ as we know them now, but there was no ‘graphical user interface’ either. Rather than a ‘desktop’ with icons and a mouse pointer, there was just a black screen with text and a flashing cursor.

DOSscreen

DOS

This was Microsoft DOS (Disk Operating System), which seemed to be the ‘proper’ way to use computers for at least a decade.

GEM - Atari ST

GEM – Atari ST

Indeed, some PC users were initially ‘suspicious’ of icons and windows which had appeared on the Apple Mac as well as other alternatives in use like GEM on the Atari ST.

People had become so used to typing commands, and knew all the ‘switches’ and other modifiers e.g. DIR /W to display a list of the files across the screen rather than in a column. And ‘WP’ was all you needed to get ‘Word Perfect’ to launch – the then favoured Word Processor, which gave rise to some still familiar short-cuts like ‘Control-C’ to copy.

Desktop computing takes-off and ‘Windows’ takes-over

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 showed PC users something different from around 1992, when 386 and 486 PCs powerful enough to run it well became available.

mouse tutorial

mouse tutorial

It even came with a tutorial to show users how to use a mouse!

Windows 3.1 floppy disks

Windows 3.1 floppy disks

No-one enjoyed having to install it using 7 floppy disks though.

And at first it seemed somewhat unnecessary to run existing applications.

Win95-DOSprompt

Windows 95 – DOS prompt

Indeed, there was a bit of an ‘outcry’  that Windows 95 and later variants didn’t first boot into DOS!

But then it was realised there were some key benefits. Now you could delete a whole directory in one go without having to clear out each ‘level’ – not always the safest feature! Email really became more useable when you didn’t have to log in specifically to check to see if you had messages; now it could be running all the time in its own window.

The rise of the Internet – and security issues

Win98Desktop

Windows 98 ‘desktop’

With each variant of ‘Windows’ came more sophistication, and suddenly a whole world of connected information could be accessed with Netscape and then Internet Explorer, which then meant Windows really became a ‘must have’.

Internet Explorer - WinXP

Internet Explorer – Windows XP

Certain difficulties were experienced getting old and new applications to behave themselves in the Windows environment; stability and also backwards compatibility started to become issues. Users now had to deal with ‘blue screen’ crashes of Windows, and then a variety of increasing security threats and viruses requiring ever-more enhanced anti-malware protection applications and mandatory backups.

The continuing need for ‘Legacy’ support

Although the majority of modern offices, educational establishments and homes now use the latest PC hardware as well as phone and tablet computing devices running the newest generation of operating software and applications, some industrial workplaces have professional implementations of systems that still make use of early computing platforms (ranging from desktop PCs to OSS servers), where the basic requirements are unchanged, and particularly in stand-alone use where security threats aren’t an issue. And some people still have old PC games to play!

Drive Setup

Drive Setup

It can however be quite a task to restore the operation of legacy systems, particularly if backups are missing or incomplete.

FDISK for partitioning

FDISK for partitioning

Associated issues include obtaining the appropriate hardware replacement parts such as disks (modern versions can be too high capacity to work well with old systems) requiring the right settings of cylinders, heads and sectors, and preparation using FDISK and FORMAT commands.

Floppy Disk

Floppy Disk

Software ‘patching’ of configurations may be needed, hunting out correct versions of driver files and specifying the right parameters. Creating a floppy disk with ‘boot’ files can also be a helpful tool!

Emulation and Virtualisation

There’s still a way today to run legacy software even without the old PC hardware, and that’s via the ‘joy’ of emulation and virtualisation. Even using an Apple Mac or Linux computer, it’s possible to run various flavours of Windows legacy software.

Particularly useful applications to enable this include:

DOSbox

DOSbox

DOSBox – a handy emulator tool which enables the running of old DOS based applications in an application window. Relatively straight-forward to setup, with the ability to ‘mount’ folders so that files can be imported.

VBoxWin95

VirtualBox-Windows95

VirtualBox – a fully featured virtualisation tool that allows the creation of ‘virtual machines’ into which can be installed a full operating system, such as Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows XP. The tool also emulates CD and Floppy drives for  loading disk images and running legacy applications.

CPU fix for Win95

CPU fix for Win95

Takes a bit of work to set up, preparing a virtual ‘hard disk’, and then installing the operating system. There’s a ‘work-around’ needed to take account of modern processors being ‘too fast’ for the old operating software! Also, to set the display to the necessary resolution and get sound working, special video and audio drivers may need to be installed.

win95app

Win95app

 

Or you could try the Windows 95 ‘computer as an’ App created by Felix Rieseberg, which can be downloaded and installed on macOS, Windows and Linux!

 

@YellowsBestLtd we can assist with support services for both legacy and new software and hardware solutions, so please get in touch if you have any requirements you’d like to discuss;  we look forward to hearing from you.

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Keeping Customers Operational – ‘telling’ not ‘selling’

@YellowsBestLtd our mission is to provide our Customers with Management Services and Solutions so their infrastructure networks continue to serve and perform – “Keeping Customers Operational

Needs vary from the launch of the latest IT and Telecoms technologies through to the support of well-established legacy systems.

Given that each organisation is unique, both in its business practices and deployed infrastructure, then we find that its best to take a flexible approach and provide tailored services to suit exacting demands.

Our no-cost and no-obligation Customer consultation is all about finding out needs, regardless of technology or manufacturer, and then sourcing the required solution(s), which may mean seeking out difficult to obtain products or requiring the supply of specialist services.  So in essence, it’s not about us ‘selling’ them something we have, but rather our clients ‘telling’ us what to provide. Making it easier and more convenient for busy procurement and operational teams,  saving them effort, time and cost.

We’re always keen to see how we can enhance our range of #business services, increase the #enterprise infrastructure we support and expand our mix of #systems solutions to supply the required #technologies and products for our customers.

Please help us understand what services would be of interest to you to  support your systems requirements, by getting in touch; we look forward to hearing from you.

Business Services
Day Rate Operations & Maintenance Engineering Site Visits Hardware Repair
Project Based Training Solutions Sourcing Software Support
Consultancy Telephone Assistance Spares Supply Reverse Logistics & Value Recovery

 

Enterprise Infrastructure
Alcatel-Lucent Bosch Ernitec Ganz
Huawei IBM Keymile Marconi
Nokia Pelco RAD 360Vision

 

Sustainable Solutions
Legacy Systems Refurbishment Testing Craft Terminals
Spares Sourcing Repairs Maintenance Technical Support
New Telecoms Infrastructure Functional Replacements Reverse Engineering Management Systems

 

Technologies & Products
PDH Access SDH Transport IP / MPLS CCTV Cameras
Copper Cabling Microwave Radio Pseudo-wire Solar Energy
IT / Servers DWDM / CWDM Carrier Ethernet PMR / TETRA
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Business Financing

Equipment Leasing and Funding

With Business expansion in mind, when there’s a need to fund key purchases of equipment, but you don’t want to tie up precious capital, and perhaps even with a carefully worked out business plan, your bank won’t provide the lending – help, is at hand …

@YellowsBestLtd we can assist with funding though our business finance partners. Finance can be arranged for nearly all business equipment, machinery and IT (including software). With facilities small and large that can be repaid over 1 to 5 years, it makes sense consider how you can get what you need now, not what you can only afford. After all, you don’t pay for your staff 3 years in advance, and you don’t wait to buy a building for them to work in. So don’t hold yourself back!

Please get in touch to let us know what you need to purchase and see how we can enable your business to move forward. Or perhaps you’re selling your products to your Customers, in which case we can arrange a point of sale facility to aid their purchase and accelerate your sale.

Summary of Customer Benefits

– an alternative line of credit: finance lease, lease/hire purchase, loans, sale & leaseback

– tax efficient: leasing is 100% tax deductible

– all asset types considered: office equipment, production machinery, fixtures & fittings, etc

– the biggest benefit is ‘the use’, not ‘the ownership’

Summary of Vendor Benefits

– provision of ‘point of sale’ leasing and finance facilities

– increase order values, sell more equipment

– incorporate services & consumables in rentals

– more effective cost justification

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Reverse Logistics and Value Recovery

With the New Year upon us, it’s a good time to take stock and prepare for this year’s activites and operational maintenance requirements. Its at times like these that decisions are made to move forward with projects to implement replacement systems, and/or ‘clear out’ unwanted infrastructure parts. One resolution we can all embrace is to ensure that a responsible Reverse Logistics process is followed.

Furthermore, it’s not always the case than there has to be a significant cost to disposal; unwanted infrastructure items in many cases can result in a generation of funds to Customers, either through resale of working spare parts or by recycling of components. This ‘Value Recovery’ can help to pay for replacement systems, as well as disposing of unwanted parts with the least environmental impact.

YellowsBest helps Customers perform their Reverse Logistics whilst achieving ‘Value Recovery’ by taking delivery of systems and parts, cataloguing the items, then providing a managed approach to the resale of spares, maximising the revenue arising. During this no-cost process, whilst the assets have been removed from the Customers’ premises saving storage space, they remain the Customers’ property and can be called back should unexpected spares requirements occur. Anything not saleable is then broken down for recycling, with useful materials extracted which can generate additional funds, and unwanted items disposed of in accordance with WEEE regulations.

We look forward to hearing from you; please get in touch to see how YellowsBest can assist with Reverse Logistics and maximise ‘Value Recovery’ for your organisation.

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Reduce Reuse Recycle

@YellowsBestLtd helps Customers with their operational needs, and one aspect is to #Reduce the demand for avoidable whole-scale replacements through a combination of supply for #Reuse of refurbished spares and repair of system elements. When removal and disposal of no-longer serviceable infrastructure parts is necessary, we can also assist with the resale and #Recycle for ‘value recovery’ of valuable materials.

Most customers have implemented their private network infrastructure systems over a number of years, and for many their operational requirements have not changed. Consequently, it makes more sense both financially and environmentally to maintain these systems rather than embark on complete change-outs. We can assist by supplying critical and hard-to-find spare parts and hardware repair services, even when the systems have been declared ‘obsolete’ (i.e. no longer in production) by the O.E.M.

Eventually there does come a time when it proves necessary to remove and replace network infrastructure. Rather that simply discarding the old system elements, we can provide ‘value recovery’ to the Customer by means of resale of working parts and recycling of components, extracting useful materials. This often proves financially beneficial, generating a source of funds which helps to pay for the replacement systems, as well as providing an ethical means of disposing of unwanted parts with the least environmental impact.

Please get in touch should you wish to discuss your operational requirements and see how @YellowsBestLtd can be of assistance.

 

Recommended reading on the wider aspects of ‘The Future of Waste’ can be found in:

@TheIET @EandTmagazine Volume-12_Issue-11

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Repair Services

Although many industrial infrastructure solutions tend to be very reliable and long-lasting, from time-to-time system components can become non-operational, and when these cases arise, businesses benefit from professional repair services.

Equipment requiring repair services falls into two categories:

  • Recently deployed systems, which are still in production by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).
  • ‘Legacy’ systems, where the production has ceased; in some cases even the original vendor is no longer in business.

For the first category, certainly where there is a residual warranty provision, it may be best to return the failed item to the OEM for repair or replacement. However, businesses may still benefit from an alternative or supplementary service provision, particularly when the vendor’s production facilities are located overseas, and repair and return times are long (typically in excess of 30 days).

Regarding the second category, fortunately there are a range of options that YellowsBest, together with its network of independent service providers, can assist businesses with their ongoing support needs, to maintain the operational nature of their systems and thereby maximise their investment in deployed infrastructure.

YellowsBest assists customers with a wide variety of infrastructure elements, including telecommunications cards, CCTV cameras, matrix displays, etc. There are a number of ways YellowsBest can provide repair services:

  • Component-Level Repairs
  • Swap Repairs (Entire Module substitution with Spares)
  • Functional Replacements (Complete system substitution with compatible alternatives)

There follows brief descriptions of these repair services that we have been providing to our customers. We would be very pleased to hear from you should you wish to discuss your requirements; please contact us to see if we can be of assistance.

 

Component-Level Repairs

From time-to-time, hardware elements within infrastructure systems fail, and repair services are required. The diversity of modern networks and technologies in use by businesses means that there are a wide range of parts procured over a considerable period of time, from a multitude of vendors and international manufacturers from across the globe. This means that there is a spectrum of the relatively new to aging items, some parts being still under warranty to elements from OEMs that no longer exist.

YellowsBest is able to provide a comprehensive repairs management service, assisting business by acting as a single returns facility for both new and old equipment items. Typically, newer parts in or out of warranty will be sent to the OEM for repair or substitution. Older items, especially in the case where the OEM is no longer exists, will be repaired using our network of independent service providers, all to a standard equivalent to the original working condition and warranted operation.

 

Swap Repairs

Sometimes the repair of equipment elements is not possible, such as when the item is physically damaged or Beyond Economic Repair (BER). Or it can be the case that the repair times are long, and in order to safeguard continuous operations of systems, additional parts can be used for substitution when failures occur.

YellowsBest can source the required equipment spare parts, though its partnership with key vendors of the latest products as well as suppliers of legacy systems components. In many cases these parts can be newly manufactured to order and delivered within specified lead-times, or quickly despatched from either unused surplus stocks or ‘2nd user’ items, particularly in the case when systems are deemed obsolete and are no longer produced by the OEM.

With such a ‘swap service’ in place, the operational status of the deployed equipment can be restored without delay. YellowsBest can then, in many cases, obtain a component-level repair for the substituted item, and thereby return the original unit to ‘stock’, ready to provide the next swap repair.

 

Functional Replacements

When systems have reached the end of their useful working life, repairs are challenging and spares are unattainable, companies may need to completely change out or upgrade their infrastructure equipment.

YellowsBest can assist businesses by seeking alternative product solutions, in the form of either complete replacement systems, or re-manufactured elements to provide the most efficient substitution of equivalent required functionality. Particularly in the case where operational requirements have not changed, it may prove commercially beneficial to replace like-for-like products. In many cases, the substitution of functionally equivalent newer elements may pay for themselves over time through efficiency savings due to lower power consumption, etc.

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Account Management assistance

If you have a backlog of work to invoice, payments to chase and clients to speak to about renewing their purchase order cover, you may need another Account Manager.

Especially if you also need to provide reports internally on status against budget and inform your operational teams of expected activities to schedule resources and procure deliverables.

Trouble is, there may be a headcount freeze and until your business development actions bring in more revenue, you can’t justify another full time employee.

So here’s the solution: speak to the team at YellowsBest about a day-rate for a flexible, Bright individual who can take care of immediate activities in an Expert way, delivering against SMART objectives in a Timely fashion.

We look forward to hearing from you.

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