Microsoft has announced that it will no longer support XP, and there’s a lot of talk about what to do about motion control systems that are using XP. Is it time to upgrade the whole system? Maybe time to switch to Linux?
At the same time, companies using legacy Rexroth and Indramat drives and controls are still operating on DOS — or at least part of their system is. And plenty of the conversations about XP reference the fact that some parts of our systems never got upgraded. Trying to upgrade your entire motion control system is a lot more complicated than upgrading your laptop.
So why do PC operating systems change so frequently?
- Because they can. In order to keep people excited about new products, Microsoft needs to have new stuff to show them. Motion control operators rarely interact with the operating system, so this isn’t relevant for us, but it still happens around us.
- For new devices. You don’t want a touch screen for your servo, but you might like it on your laptop. New hardware, including tablets and phones, inspires what-if thinking that leads to new OS.
- The internet. Millions of people all over the world are thinking up new games, apps, and online experiences every day. Again, you’re not using your Indramat gear to play Assassin’s Creed, so you’re not going to be super motivated by this.
Offices all over the world are still using legacy operating systems because they’re using legacy software. Updating hundreds of workers’ computers and software, plus migrating data and training staff, is such a daunting task that they just don’t bother.
Now apply that to the control system, where the user interface is relatively unimportant. No servos are clamoring to be upgraded to Windows 8.1 so they can have a tiles start up screen. So why bother?
And yet you may have concerns about security or repairs. Don’t worry. If you can, keep a clean back up just in case. If you can’t, keep our phone number handy, because we’ve got you covered.