Road Runner: We Don’t Do Windows XP

Windows XP, the highly anticipated and over-hyped new operating system (OS)
by Microsoft Corp. released
Wednesday
, is already off to a bad start with one member of the cable
Internet industry.

Road Runner, the second-largest cable Internet service provider (ISP) in
the nation with more than 1.4 million subscribers, does not support the
controversial new operating system (OS) for its customers and will not
support its use on the cable network.

A customer service technician at Road Runner, who asked not to be
identified, said it could take up to a year for everyone to get trained on
the new OS.

“We’re not able to support Windows XP technical support-wise — people can
still put it on their computer, but we won’t be able to help them out,” the
technician said. “I expect that all the technicians will be trained in
(XP) soon.”

The technician did add that the timeframe “soon” could mean almost a year
in length.

It seems very convenient that a cable ISP owned primarily by AOL Time
Warner, the largest ISP in the world and a direct competitor
with the Microsoft Corp. (the second-largest) for dial up and broadband
Internet users worldwide, does not support the software of the most popular
OS ever assembled.

Microsoft and AOL have been arch-rivals for years now, as the two evolved
into the world’s two marquee Internet access and content providers. They
have fought for and over everything from instant messaging to Internet browsers.

According to Mike Luftman, AOL/TW spokesperson, Road Runner support of
Windows XP will take nowhere near as long as one year to put in place.

“Road Runner (techs) will be supporting Windows XP as soon as they receive
the final version of it and the support documents and (customer support
technicians) go through the training,” Luftman said. “They do what any
other ISP would do in this case because people have to be trained and we
have to test (XP) when we receive the material from Microsoft. Training
will take a few weeks.”

It’s unknown how many Road Runner technicians will need to be trained.

Cox Communications, the fifth-largest cable ISP in the
nation, has already come forward with its support of the new Windows
platform at its customer support facilities.

Susan Leepson, Cox spokesperson, said that the majority of Cox’s Internet
service is part of exclusivity contracts with [email protected], although they
serve some customers through Road Runner.

In the three markets served by Road Runner, Windows XP support is not
available, she said, but [email protected] in the remaining 19 markets support the
new OS.

“We have our exclusive contracts with [email protected], but those markets that we
acquired that already had a contract in place with Road Runner, and we
honored that existing contract,” she said.

@Home, a joint venture between Cox, Comcast and AT&T
is the largest cable ISP in the nation with more than 3.3
million subscribers, although it is currently going through Chapter
11 bankruptcy proceedings
.

According to the technician, Road Runner also doesn’t support fringe OS
platforms like Unix and Linux, which are popular among computer adepts but
not with the mainstream graphical user interface (GUI) crowd.

But unlike other OS platforms, Windows is used by more than 90 percent of
the desktop PCs in the world. Love ’em or hate ’em, Microsoft’s products
are used by everyone, a fact that many blue chip tech firms are well aware.

Despite much of the controversy surrounding Windows XP, Microsoft
executives have managed to rally the support of some of the world’s premier high-tech companies like
computer manufacturer Dell, chipmaker AMD and networking component maker 3Com.

Windows XP has been in the center of a critical hurricane over many of its
new features. One of them is a installation wizard that requires new XP
installs to be registered with the Redmond, WA-based database before being
activated.

Another is the so-called “raw sockets” implementation which Steve Gibson,
president of Gibson Research Group, calls “another seriously dumb idea in
the works from Microsoft.”

Malicious hackers, when remote-controlling a PC (using zombie software),
could potentially hide behind XP’s raw sockets since it provides “spoof” IP
addresses for anyone trying to hide from security experts tracking down the
origination of the distributed denial-of-service attack.

Another possible reason for Road Runner’s hesitation over the new software
is Windows new OS track record, which has included thousands of “bugs”
never caught and removed from its alpha and beta test runs. These errors
caused a wide variety of system failures, from annoying “ghost pointer”
glitches to the “blue screen of death,” which necessitated a reboot.

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