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Hardware

Dell Dropping The Floppy 1515

Posted by timothy
from the drop-away dept.
adambwells writes "Dell wants to stop including floppy drives as standard hardware on its Dimension line of desktops, and will start this practice later this quarter, as reported in this Yahoo article. Says Dell's product marketing: We would like to see customers migrate away from floppies as quickly as possible, because there are better alternative technologies out there ... it's an antique technology. At some point, you've got to draw the line. You wouldn't think of using a processor from 15 years ago." They plan to educate their customers about recordable CDs and USB pen drives as replacements."
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Dell Dropping The Floppy

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  • Blasphemy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Tenille (250795) <jeremy@s a t a n o s p h e re.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:55PM (#5233448) Homepage
    I mean, floppies aren't useful for much, but when you need one, you really need one.

    Next thing you know, they're going to take away our serial ports and PS/2 ports. Bastards.

  • Woo - Hoo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dhovis (303725) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:55PM (#5233451)
    Dell is finally catching up to changes Apple made 5 years ago!

    I say good riddance to the floppy. I've had more of them go bad on me than I care to count.

  • OK with me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:56PM (#5233472) Homepage
    As long as they *provide* the pen drive or similar device, *and* place an easily accessible USB or FireWire port on the front of the chassis. If they're going to remove the floppy and force me to reach around the damn box then it probably won't work.

    And I really don't think a CDR/CDRW is yet the answer to storage, unless UDF is standardized enough (as in supported at the OS level).

  • Two words (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherReader (470464) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:57PM (#5233488)
    Boot Disk?
  • by leviramsey (248057) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:57PM (#5233489) Journal
    I remember when they ADDED the new-fangled 3 1/4 inch floppy drive to machines.

    Must not have lasted long... I remember 5.25" and 3.5" floppies (and I've heard about the 8" drives of yore), but I've never heard of a 3.25" floppy. ;o)

  • they may be old... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ubugly2 (454850) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:57PM (#5233491) Homepage
    but they're handy when needed,why waste a cd for a file smaller than 1.44 megs?
  • Re:About Time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ninja Master Gara (602359) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:58PM (#5233501) Homepage
    I've had my drives in every system, but they all go bad from dust exposure in a few months from lack of use. Not that I can find a 3 1/2" disk that works without buying a new box, anyway.
  • by levik (52444) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:58PM (#5233514) Homepage
    ... but in a pinch, a floppy is pretty much the only assured way you have of easily bringing small files across machines.

    Unless one of them is a Mac.

    Not everyone has a CDRW, and not everyone has USB key-drives. But ALL PCs have floppies.

  • floppy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chunkwhite86 (593696) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @02:59PM (#5233518)
    My first reaction was "Yay Dell!". Then I thought what if I need to update the BIOS of my motherboard.

    Does the average Joe User know how to make a bootable CD? Most PC BIOS are unable to boot from USB or Firewire yet, so it seems like creating a bootable CD to do firmware upgrades is the only option.
  • Re:Woo - Hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:00PM (#5233536) Homepage Journal
    Dell is finally catching up to changes Apple made 5 years ago!

    Most of the personal computer industry is catching up to the changes Apple made 5 years ago, and they have been since the Apple ][.
  • Floppy uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wattsman (75726) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:00PM (#5233539)
    Can I boot from a USB drive? And what about all of those install disks I still get? Hard Drive manufacturers still have their disk setup programs based on a floppy disk install.
    Also, I can't use USB drives at the machines at work (due to security risks of removing sensitive data). Sure, you can remove data on a floppy, but try doing that with a 50+ MB compressed file.
  • pros and cons... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wwest4 (183559) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:00PM (#5233540)
    pc floppies have one key quality - they are almost universally supported.

    sure, they are old and a bit slow, but they are useful because of their omnipresence. for moving snippets of data from here to there under any condition, it is still hard to beat floppies.

    usb key drives are nice - i have one - but they need to get a bit cheaper. then they would be a nice replacement for the "quick snippet" niche.

  • by NineNine (235196) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:00PM (#5233552)
    "You wouldn't think of using a processor from 15 years ago."

    And why not? If it does the job, why should I care when the processor was made? Dell's trying hard to sell new products, and that's understandable, but it's ridiculous to think that everybody buys stuff just because it's "new". Heck, I'm still using hardware from the early 90's (10 years old), and it works fine. I'm not gonna blow money on something just because it's "new".

    And as far as alternative technologies, they're still not good enough. I've never heard of a "USB Pen", and I'm sure as hell not going to waste money on some cutting edge technology that nobody's using yet. CD-R's are either very slow, one time burns, or very slow, very incompatible CD-RW's. Neither is good if I need to sneakernet a bit of data.

    But then again, I'm not a Dell customer. I use a computer until it literally falls apart, and then I buy a closeout or used computer at great prices when I need a "new" one. No point in spending top dollar for a computer these days unless you're into games, or you have some big server needs.
  • Nnnooooooooo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:01PM (#5233560)
    They're like phone booths: I never use them but I still want to have them around!
  • I want my floppy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jackb_guppy (204733) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:01PM (#5233561)
    I just got a new thinkpad and my IT department thinks no one needs a floppy. Now I can not support current customers: that will not allow me to connect ot their network, and do not have cd-rom on thier machines, network loaded. And do not have USB turned on. But they do have floppies drives.

    I have to customer software from time to time that the master key comes encrypted on a floppy. Realy great the most servers that I get to work on do not now have floppies.

    Can some one tell DELL and hardware houses, that the customer right? We need equipment to meet customer needs not some point head pencil pusher.
  • by www.2cups.com (642654) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:01PM (#5233569) Homepage
    I hope that they will make CDRW drives standard at this point. Colin
  • USB Key Drives? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by szquirrel (140575) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:02PM (#5233582) Homepage
    I dunno, the USB key/pen/stick/whatever drives aren't anywhere near as convenient as floppies yet. There are still lots of old PCs out there that don't have USB. Lots more do have it, but the ports are in back and a pain to get to.

    CDRs on the other hand have been around a lot longer and work on more platforms. Now that new CD burners don't make coasters nearly as often, just give us small cheap 80mm CDRs with thin jewelboxes to carry them in and you have a great floppy replacement.
  • by BlueUnderwear (73957) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:04PM (#5233618)
    Well, at least this avoids mistakes during flashing, as now you can no longer flash...
  • Re:Woo - Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:04PM (#5233619)
    Dell couldn't just have dropped it five years ago: too many people were relying on it for too many things (BIOS updates, software distribution, digital cameras, operating system installs, SmartMedia access, etc.). In fact, many vendors have tried to drop floppy drives many times from their machines over many years and customers would always order them anyway.

    Apple is one company, controlling both hardware and software. Of course, they can change course whenever they like and impose whatever corporate strategy they want. That's both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, we have a choice: an all-Apple world would be just as horrible as an all-PC world.

  • by Captain Tenille (250795) <jeremy@s a t a n o s p h e re.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:05PM (#5233637) Homepage
    PS/2: Tried, true, and works with my old IBM clicky-clacky keyboard. I love that keyboard, and it's waaay more durable than any newer keyboard. I've spilled beer on it and it continues clacking away.

    Parallel Port: I'd like to keep using my older printers and my old parallel Zip Drive. It's slow, but handy sometimes.

    Serial Ports: How else are you supposed to hook up a dumb terminal to your computer. USB?

    Seriously, there's no reason to drop these devices. Why not include them with the newer stuff.

    Besides, USB is not to be trusted.

  • Re:Two words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:06PM (#5233640) Homepage Journal
    Boot Disk?

    Yeah, so the last time I had to reinstall XP due to file corruption, I had the CD, but the Dell machine would not recognize the CD, so I had to make about 8 boot floppies to get things up and running so the system would see the CD drive. Now, whose fault is that? Apple has been making bootable CD drives for well over a decade now and yet, the Wintel industry is still making machines I have to make boot floppies for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:07PM (#5233658)
    When Apple dropped the floppy drive it was "stupidity."

    When Dell drops the floppy drive it'll be called "innovation."
  • by afidel (530433) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:07PM (#5233660)
    Will they allow things like BIOS flash updates to run from El Torito cdroms? I mean last time I checked most low level utilities will check to make sure they aren't running out of a virtual floppy because when the BIOS is being overwritten etc the virtualization tech might break and leave the system in an unrecoverable state.
  • Mini CDRW (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rui Lopes (599077) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:07PM (#5233668) Homepage
    Heck, why just they use those mini CDRW's of about 150MB? Just throw into the package a bunch of them! Label them as 'FREE' and you will se that people will start buying it!

    Just a thought...
  • Re:Floppy uses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:09PM (#5233692)
    Can I boot from a USB drive?

    Yup.

    And what about all of those install disks I still get?

    What install disks?

    Hard Drive manufacturers still have their disk setup programs based on a floppy disk install.

    Those programs are only used for ancient bioses.. the bios in Dells "floppy-less" PC won't require the use of hard drive bootloaders. I haven't needed one in nearly 10 years.
  • Re:OK with me (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hether (101201) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:09PM (#5233696)
    Easily accessible USB ports is my main gripe about this idea. I love the USB key that the college I work at provides students for use with their laptops. Since I wanted one too they gave me one. But what a pain when your box is under your desk, or otherwise out of reach! Not to mention confusing trying to explain to some non-techie person where to plug it in (especially if they're already using their slots). If the Dimension line plans to have ports on the front, then this could be promoted a lot more easily.

    Even though CDs are cheap, I don't think that the technology is as affordable as it needs to be for most people to adopt it yet.
  • Re:Floppy uses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:10PM (#5233706)
    But these things are all obnoxious PC-isms. Why should you need a setup disk for your hard drive? Just attach it. Why shouldn't you be able to boot a USB storage device? The firmware should be able to boot any attached storage device, or from the network.
  • by Ponty (15710) <awc2.buyclamsonline@com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:11PM (#5233723) Homepage
    Terrible device? Like the PS/2 port or parallel printers? We just got away from the ISA bus. How about the i386 instruction set? That's the real problem with PCs: they're an awfully old foundation on which to build anything.
  • Floppies (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:12PM (#5233743)


    I remember being in high school ('86-'90), I'd carry about floppies with me all year around

    Wow. That's probably all you remember from high school, since you most likely never got laid with cheerleaders, partied, or played football.

  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic (199347) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:14PM (#5233771)
    I see nothing wrong with this - at the desktop level. I use USB for my keyboard and mouse (is PS2 used for anything else?) and I don't know that I have ever used a serial port on a workstation / desktop. Dell's computers are now shipping with four or even SIX USB ports. That's enough to take care of all my peripherals and then some.

    Servers, however, are different. Console ports are pretty important. I suppose they could use USB, but it hasn't become as reliable as serial/console yet. And the idea of USB on a server just makes me nervous (:

    But again, I see no problem with this at the desktop level. Really all a desktop needs is USB, some kind of video (DVI?), and a network jack. Everything else, even optical, is worthless as far as I'm concerned. The network is where everything belongs.
  • by Interrobang (245315) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233780) Journal
    I routinely carry work back and forth from work to home and vice versa. I'm usually working with text or Word documents, so they're not worth burning onto a CD-ROM. Besides which, just last week, I had to make a trip to work during a snowstorm to get floppy copies of stuff I burned onto a CD-ROM while at work only to find that my home computer's CD-ROM drive thought it was a beer coaster. (I tested it at work, honest!) I won't be doing that again.

    Why do I suddenly smell the appearance of a lucrative market for used floppy drives and manuals on DIY hardware mods?

    Nobody would dream of using hardware from 15 years ago, eh? Tell that to my fiance, who has a closet full of 286 mobos and a PDP-8 in the basement!
  • by gamgee5273 (410326) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233786) Homepage Journal
    That comment makes almost no sense whatsoever - and I've read it three times...can you try again and, this time, proofread it?
  • by ct (85606) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:15PM (#5233799) Homepage
    Now I'll be honest that I haven't looked into whether or not USB solid state storage is standard across the board, but if they're doing away with floppies then I had better be able to boot from my USB pen/key/dongle storage device if & when needed by simply changing the boot order.

    If I want/need to run some low level hardware diagnostics (IBM's Drive Fitness Test tool anyone?) or flash to a new BIOS revision or update the firmware on a SCSI controller - a floppy is basically the only way to go - especially with downloadable updates that REQUIRE you to create a floppy from them.

    If the only way I can update these parts is by disassembling the now crippled machines & putting their components into a machine that does have a floppy to update them, then replace (x 250 machines...) - Dell can count on number of enterprise customers nixing them from the list of potential hardware vendors. Don't limit my options - period.

    But that's just my opinion.

    //ct
  • by Zathrus (232140) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:17PM (#5233830) Homepage
    Can some one tell DELL and hardware houses, that the customer right? We need equipment to meet customer needs not some point head pencil pusher.

    You didn't read the article, did ya?

    You can still order a floppy drive on a Dell Dimension, but it's a special order and an additional cost.

    Frankly, I rather agree with Dell... the floppy is nearly useless. And yes, I still use mine at home upon occasion, but it's a damn rare occasion.

    All the cases where people are whining about still needing one are easily circumventable using CD's, USB devices, or networking. The number of computers that don't have one or more of the above is rapidly diminishing. There will always be special needs, but, guess what? They're special, and will be treated as such.
  • by inteller (599544) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:17PM (#5233836)
    like, how am I going to boot to a prompt to flash a BIOS? I know dell can do away with floppies cause they probably have some CD boot flash program, but not the rest of us who build our own PCs.
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:18PM (#5233852)
    When I get one for $1.50, sure thing.
  • by Ponty (15710) <awc2.buyclamsonline@com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:25PM (#5233948) Homepage
    You're precisely the person Michael Dell couldn't give a damn about. You're never going to buy his computer, so he doesn't need to worry about what you think.

    It's rough, but it's the case. Where would the world be in companies had to take into account the needs of the people who love to criticise but never have any plans on purchasing their products?
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:28PM (#5233971)
    I mean, floppies aren't useful for much, but when you need one, you really need one.

    It's not so much that you need a floppy drive, as you need something STANDARD with relatively inexpensive media.

    One more interesting quote:

    Getting people to part with floppy drives will take some work, Vena admits. "Customers still have an emotional tie to floppies," he said.
    It's not so much an emotional attachment as a practical one. A floppy drive is flexible and integrated. The floppy disk can be used over and over -- I think more so than a CD (somebody correct me if I'm wrong). The floppy disk was the perfect size for carrying a few documents from one computer to another, whereas a CD seems to be sized more for archiving. Most importantly, a floppy disk would pretty much work on any PC. The same cannot be said for CD-RW. If you want to replace the floppy, you need a STANDARD device that you can boot off of, has cheap, reasonably reliable "perfect size" media, and can be found on most modern computers.

    The USB Flash devices sound like a great idea, and if they are small enough could eliminate the need to have one on every computer, provided you can carry the "drive" in your pocket. If they can get 16MB cards down to about $5, I see it as the perfect replacement. Furthermore, if they build the device so it can handle much larger flash cards (archival size), they'll really take the industry by storm.

  • Re:Woo - Hoo (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Golias (176380) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:29PM (#5233985)
    Then why has every person I know that has a Mac order an external floppy drive for $50.

    Because you havn't meet me, or any of the Mac users I know.

    I have two Macs, along with several PC's. The Macs get more use than any of the PC's do (especially my iBook, which I use for almost everything these days), and I have never once wished I could load a floppy disk into a Mac.

    I don't even use them much for my PC's, other than bios updates (and as a boot disk on the really old machine I use as a Linux box.)

  • Re:Nnnooooooooo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ponty (15710) <awc2.buyclamsonline@com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:31PM (#5234015) Homepage
    That's the problem. A lot of people want to have phone booths around but never use them either. You know what's happening? They're disappearing [washingtonpost.com]. If you really like pay phones, put your $0.35 where your mouth is and call home.

    Good intentions don't make money for Ma Bell.

    Of course this has nothing to do with the floppy drive as the payphone revenue stream has nothing in common with computer hardware. But the notion is the same.

  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:36PM (#5234071) Homepage
    While I would miss it, it IS definately about time someone had the guts to do it.
    Gee... isn't that was the fruits in cupertino did nearly 5 years ago?
  • by Vargasan (610063) <swhisken@r o g e r s . com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:39PM (#5234099) Homepage
    Floppy Disks, are re-writable...

    CD-Rs are not.

    CD-RWs are just as "reliable" as Floppy Disks. Can only burn so many times.
  • Standard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BryanL (93656) <lowtherbfNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:39PM (#5234100)
    I think some people are missing the point. Dell isn't going to include floppy drives as a "standard" features. I say, so what. If you really want a floppy drive, and some people do, then have it installed extra. If you use a floppy boot disc on occasion, keep an extra floppy drive around to use for those rare times. But in my experience (and I am sure in most peoples) I haven't used a floppy drive in about ten years.
  • by Zapman (2662) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:41PM (#5234115)
    How many people still have a serial port palm pilot?

    How many people need to configure a piece of network gear?

    How many people have needed to get to the serial consone on their unix box?

    How many people have rack mount gear that the only console is serial?

    Serial won't die any time soon.

    (if dell tries to take away serial ports, the admins who run dell.com will probably hold the site hostage until they change their mind. :-) )
  • by t0qer (230538) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:47PM (#5234150) Homepage Journal
    Think about it..

    Floppies retail cost anywhere from 15-20 bucks. So you're looking at about an extra $800 bucks in parts for all your PC's.

    For $800 these days you can add a nice bit of hard disk space to your 40 clients. Prices have dropped around a dollar a gigabyte. You can also buy a decent backup system for around that price too to back them all up. Hell you can even get a pretty decent networked laserjet for that price.

    Personally, I would much rather have more hard disk space or backup for the network than a floppy. I agree with Dell %100 on this issue.
  • by Bastian (66383) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:50PM (#5234163)
    On the PC world, having BIOS updates run from the OS translates into BIOS update utilities that only run on Windows.

    I don't use Windows.

    This does not bode well for the altOS community.
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmyf2371 (586051) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:56PM (#5234201)
    The floppy drive is quite possibly the one component inside a computer that most users trust the most.

    They've been around for many a year, and imho, many people would be reluctant to see them go - three months ago I wired my mum's computer onto Tim-Net (my home network and information control system) and she still believes in sneakernet as opposed to drag and drop through shared directories.

    Yes, the floppy drive is obsolete, however - it's not ready to give up the ghost yet simply because there is no replacement for it yet. (Boot disk when the system fails, transferring files to and from work/college).

    Just my thoughts,
    Tim

  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by starX (306011) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @03:57PM (#5234212) Homepage
    Funny that I was having a conversation along these lines with a professor at my university. The ultimate catch behind the floppy drive is tht it costs 20$... how many removeable usb devices or cd burners cost 20$? And besides, how many library computers commonly have cdburners or USB ports? Most libraries can't afford anything much past used 98 machines, and even then they get them subsidized. The vfact of the matter is that a floppy drive is almost certain to appear on a machine where you might possibly have need of one.

    Now if you go to your local public library, you won't be able to bring a copy of a web page home with you... you won't have a floppy drive, and they won't have a cd burner.

    I will grant that it's a stretch to think you have a computer but not an internet connection, but not everything you get at a public terminal is available online. Plenty of libraries subscribe to online journals that can only be accessed from within the library itself.

    Don't have a cd or usb disk, but need to transfer something, and you say I should use ftp? Sorry, I'm a generally clueless user who barely knows how to check my email and save things in M$ word... file transfer via a network connection is WAY over my head.

    And if course there is the boot disk issue, but do the advantages of that really need discussing?

    If dell is dropping floppies and NOT including a cd burner for 20$, then dude, who the heck wants a dell?
  • by GlassHeart (579618) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:05PM (#5234278) Journal
    There's still plenty of good reasons for floppies. Most device drivers can still fit onto one floppy disk,

    Yes, but a rescue CD is better, because you can fit more diagnostic software and whatnot on it.

    and thus the comparitive cost of CD vs floppy media would make it stupid to burn 1M of data onto a 650M CD.

    You can get 50 CD-Rs for $30, and that's already expensive. A manufactured rescue CD would cost less than $1.

    Plus there's still the fact that floppies are good for the transferring of some media types, like short word processing documents and pictures.

    Yes, but a CD-R or USB keychain or iPod is better, because they can also transfer bigger stuff like MP3s.

    Particularly if we're talking parents and grandparents that have that donated pre-Pentium computer without a CD rom

    A CD-ROM drive upgrade for those 8-year old PCs is only slightly more expensive, but vastly more useful, than a floppy drive.

    there's still plenty of reasons for floppy use.

    But it's redundant now, even if it costs only $10. Redundancy is not a good thing on commodity products.

  • by shepd (155729) <<slashdot.org> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:05PM (#5234280) Homepage Journal
    >PS/2 USB converter.

    Yay, $30 to replace a $2 IC and $0.50 connector. Not that the connector counts, as you did have to pay for a USB connector anyways.

    >Get a print server for your old printers (two-ports can be had for under $100, and networking them is a snap), and buy a CD-RW drive. ZIP drives are slow, kludgy, low-capacity, and have a tendency to click your media (and drive) to death at a seemingly random time (usually disk 13 of 26 is the victim).

    So, spend $100 to replace a $0.50 port again (which again, you still would have paid for as a USB port). Bad investment. There's actually no cost for the IC -- AFAIK, nobody actually make a floppy, serial, and parallel-less chipset/multi-io yet, so the only savings is in not placing the port on the mobo.

    Plus, this guy should buy a new zip drive to read his backups? Bad idea.

    >Will the 0.02% of the population using dumb-terminals on their home PCs please stand up?

    I'd tell you what serial ports are still being used for, but then I'd be in trouble via the DMCA. Suffice it to say there are about 5 - 10 million of them in use commonly today, the number is ever growing, and that you might want to read about the ISO-7816 standard.

    >Becauses the busses are slow, kludgy, and cost sillicon and valuable board real-estate that could be used for UATA133 or additional USB 2.0 (450+ MB/Sec) or IEEE1394 / FireWire (400+ MB/Sec) connectors, or to make motherboards smaller and/or less expensive.

    A) It's already in all chipsets I know of. My legacy-free laptop still has a controller with floppy, serial, and parallel just to do IR.

    B) Valuable board real-estate? Uhh, VLSI was invented a long time ago. If 1 sq. in. makes or breaks a full size computer (or most laptops) the designer is on crack.

    C) Really, we're talking zero-cost here, it's nothing more than a money grab to make a computer "legacy-free" -- that is, unless you are going to give me a better price on it.

    >I'll assume you've got some figures to support this otherwise baseless claim?

    Baseless? Uhhuh... try harder to troll next time.
  • We need floppies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by grolschie (610666) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:26PM (#5234423)
    iMacs sucked 'cos they dropped the floppy. There's nothing more irritating than using an iMac, Sparc , and now a Dell, and not being about to save your document to a floppy in a matter of seconds. Floppies are more convenient than a cd burner for the small jobs.
  • by Flossymike (461164) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:28PM (#5234446)
    As someone who currently supports end users of windows over the phone, you'd be surprised how oftern a boot floppy is used to get to a DOS prompt so we can if a problem is hardware or software based
  • by rjamadagni (107926) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:29PM (#5234466)
    I don't mind if they will let me boot from the USB pen drive.

    Raj
  • Re:About Time. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:30PM (#5234476)
    Good job Dell?

    Sorry but although the chances of a home user needing to rebuild a system, or boot off floppy for any reason are minimal. The cost of such device is that, that I question what they are trying to achieve.

    How many virus programs request to have "images" placed onto disk? Emergency boot disks for OS's?

  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EpsCylonB (307640) <eps@NOSPAm.epscylonb.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:35PM (#5234537) Homepage
    The floppy drive is quite possibly the one component inside a computer that most users trust the most.

    I don't know about that, I have found that floppy disks these days tend to be a lot less reliable than they used to be, prolly cause they have got so cheap. Optical media is a better because once its burned you don't have to worry so much about the quality of the disk and the data degrading.

    There is nothing you can do with a floppy disk that you can't theoretically do with a cd, it's just a case of getting mobo manafacturers to to add the support.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:42PM (#5234619)
    Some of us still want floppy drives, and that's all there is to it. It costs Dell something like $5 to put a floppy drive into a machine as it's being manufactured, but it costs me a lot more in terms of time to install one. If Dell wants to shave a little bit more of its manufacturing costs, that's fine, but then I won't buy one because a floppy drive is on my baseline requirements checklist, as is a keyboard, mouse, CD burner, 3D accelerator card, and somewhere to plug speakers in.
  • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3NO@SPAMphroggy.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:45PM (#5234652) Homepage
    ...or at least that's what everybody said about the iMac four and a half years ago.

    The only reason most people use floppy drives is A) because a driver or something comes on floppy, or B) an emergency boot disk for when the OS is hosed, C) making one of the above to be used in another machine, or D) transporting small files (Word documents) between computers.

    A) is easily solved: the companies who currently ship floppies need to ship CDs instead. CDs are pretty cheap; this is not unreasonable. But, there's no motivation to do it as long as everyone has a floppy drive. Dell removing floppies (and others following suit) is a good motivator.

    B) isn't an issue on new versions of Windows since it won't boot from a floppy anyway. PC users tend to forget that OS CDs are bootable!

    C) is an issue for those of us with a 486 in the corner. Yes, I need a floppy drive in that machine, since it won't boot from CD. That's my only floppy drive, though.

    D) can be done just as well (better!) with a USB keychain. Bigger capacity, and they work on nearly any computer. As far as I know, they're even bootable.
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @04:52PM (#5234756) Journal
    The floppy issue is not a PC problem -- it's specific to the Windows disk scheduling system, and will probably never be fixed.

    I can use floppies in my Linux box quite happily. It's just like another hard drive.

    (Pet Peeve: that goddamn mechanical eject button *sucks*. Apple was smart enough not to use it, but it was devised in an age that didn't have enough memory to do buffered disk I/O, and it's a royal pain for those of us with OSes that can buffer up writes -- you *can* manually eject the thing w/o umounting it).

    Mechanical ejects should only be used as an emergency measure...

    Haven't seen what things are like in OS X (heck, may be hard to find an OS X system with a floppy), but I doubt things are that different from BSD -- probably works just fine too.
  • by wayward_son (146338) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:06PM (#5234964)
    Floppy disks have seriously gone downhill in quality.

    I still have a 720k floppy from 1994 that got me through all 4 years of high school (School provided the disk to avoid viruses.) Still worked last time I checked it.

    I consider myself lucky to get a modern floppy to work more than a few times before dying.

  • by Priyadi (5841) <priyadiNO@SPAMpriyadi.net> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:09PM (#5234988) Homepage
    They are:
    - small
    - getting cheaper
    - fast enough
    - already being used on PDAs, digital cameras and other gadgets

    The only downside is there are at least 5 types of them! (SD, MMC, MS, CF, SM). However there are already plenty of card readers in the market that accept all of them. Some of these devices can be installed into the 3.5" enclosures that are being used for floppy drives for now. So I think it is a reasonable replacement for floppy drives. I've even seen floppy drive + 6in1 card reader combo.
  • by Nurgled (63197) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:25PM (#5235139)

    You'd probably also need to purchase a floppy controller on a card. I'm assuming that since they're dropping the drives, their motherboards won't have floppy controllers on them, or else there'd be no point in dropping the drives in the first place.

  • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:27PM (#5235162)
    That's why we're in a period of "grandfathering" in the new technology slowly.

    What do I know, but it seems to me that we've been in the period of "grandfathering" in USB for, oh, about five years now. It's time for the period to end.

    As for configuring networking gear and rackmount equipment, that, too, will slowly come around and start using new technology for their control interfaces.

    Or you can use the USB-serial adapters that are coming in your breakfast cereal now. Well, okay, maybe they're not quite that ubiquitous yet, but I swear I saw them set up as impulse items at the Kwik-E-Mart.

    I can forsee 1GB/Second inter-connects and peripherals being as readily available in five years as 12MB/Second are today, and I may be under-estimating.

    I think you're underestimating. The new Macs come with FireWire 800, which is 800 Mbps. Not much use for it just yet, but it's in the new high-end machines whether you need it or not. Of course, the rest of the world seems to lag behind Apple's lead in matters like this by five years or so-- is anybody but Apple shipping gigabit Ethernet on their laptops yet?-- so maybe your estimate for widespread adoption isn't that too far off, but I hope it's conservative.
  • Re:UDF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slaker (53818) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:32PM (#5235209)
    The successor to UDF is called Mt Ranier. It is supported by Linux but not (yet) by Windows, although most drives 24x and faster can handle it. It is a good thing, for it makes CD-RWs suck less.

    Ahead software also makes UDF software for windows, as do Sony and NTI.
  • Re:About Time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_K4 (627653) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:41PM (#5235294)
    I tired this but was forced to add one for 3 reasons:
    1) I wanted to make a bootable CD. CD Creator and Nero both told me to put the disk I wanted to use as the source in the A: drive....so i hadda have a floppy
    2) I wanted to flash the BIOS on my PC. The program (.exe for windows) that I downloaded wanted to write the files directly to the floopy and make it bootable.

    2) I wanted to flash the BIOS on my video card. The program worked the same way that the system BIOS did.

    Now before people start pasting ways around these I know them. Point being many people who buy dell computer's may not. What will dell say when customer X calls because they can't flash the bios on their video card? I think that getting rid of the drives is a good idea, i just hope that hardware vendors are really ready for it.
  • by minkwe (222331) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:45PM (#5235332) Journal
    What about giving us a machine that boots in 2 seconds instead. Somehow the time from power-on to OS boot of PC's has increased over the years as processors got faster.


    Anyone with an ASUS A7V-266 board knows how anoying it is to bootup especially if you're using ATA-1xx.


    Could somebody explain to me why this has not been done?

  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @05:54PM (#5235427)
    I've seen the same whining, complaining, bitching, moaning, etc, back when Apple dropped the floppy. And you know what? 99.9% of the people I know with iMacs, iBooks, whatever, are perfectly fine with the decision and have learned to manage WITHOUT a floppy. Those that needed a floppy went out and bought a USB floppy and all was well with the world again.

    It's like Windows vs. Linux in some ways. If you take away Windows and just give me Linux, I'll manage to get stuff done. I'd rather have Windows, but I can use Linux. Most of you'd rather have a floppy, but in the end could do without it if you had no other choice.

    Additionally, back on somewhat of a topic: I don't think Dell is doing it to be "nice" or to "reduce SUPPORT costs". I think he's doing it to squeeze another few more dollars to his bottom line. Think about it: Floppies, even in bulk, probably cost between $5-10 each (not to mention the few minutes to screw em into the case, unpacking, etc, and the few cents it probably costs to make/assemble those plastic faceplates with the fancy schmancy pushbutton that just pushes another button). If Dell can cut $5-10 from the cost of each computer, that's an additional $5-$10 Dell MAKES per computer (multiply that by tens of thousands of computers a month, it DOES add up). Dell is NOT going to reduce the cost of it's computer for that $5-10 (in fact, they'll probably keep their prices the same and then charge you $25-50 to install a floppy). Not to mention that the markup on ADDON, external products is generally much higher than a prebuild. So, if you want to buy that USB Keychain, there's another revenue line, if you want to buy an external floppy (right there on the Dell Website), that's $25. It's an opportunity to sell the customer more higher-profit items (think cables.. parallel port, usb, firewire, sheesh.. takai desu!).

  • it is about time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bofh1234 (647942) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @06:33PM (#5235868)
    I hate floppies. I am responible for mataining over 300 PCs for one department at a university. Each semseter I have to replace 30 to 40 floppies because students shove their disks in without regard for the drive. The metal flap always falls off and damages the head. Or the student complains that their floppy works at home but here. Starting at the end of summer 2002 I removed the floppies from all department labs. I put in 250 MB zip drives. The students and faculty complained. I told them to use the zip drive, most were already using the zip drive because the assignments are too large to fit on floppies any more. I also suggested they purchase one of the mini usb drives (the diskonkey stuff works nice). They come in 32MB, 64MB, 128MB, 256MB, and 512MB models and they are cheaper than having to buy an expensive zip drive and expensive media. Plus all of our PCs have front mounted USB ports. I am planning on replacing 1 lab of PCs with Wyse thin clients, if Wyse ever gets around to releaseing a thin client that can support a zip drive. I hear Wyse is going to release a thin client this year that has front mounted usb ports. I am eagerly waiting for this. Now if only they would get rid of the serial and parallel ports I would happier.
  • Re:Woo - Hoo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jtdubs (61885) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @06:56PM (#5236079)
    Funny, but raises an interesting point.

    I have a Mac and a PC. I have an Apple mouse (1-button) and a Logitech USB mouse (6-button if you count the wheel as three (up, down, click)).

    As the Mac is my primary machine, my first instinct was the Logitech on the Mac and the Apple on the PC. Hated it. It's a pain in the butt to use Windows with only one button. So many things scream at you to be right-clicked on, not out of necessity, but out of efficiency.

    Want to get to network preferences? You can go through the amazing jouney of Start -> Settings -> Control Panels -> Network -> Local Area Network 1 -> Properties -> TCP/IP -> Properties, or you can go the comparatively easy route of Network Neighborhood -> Properties -> Local Area Connection 1 -> ....

    On my Mac I click on System Preferences -> Network and I'm there. No need for a right-click. It would barely save me anything.

    This is true of most actions on PC's vs Mac's. So, I've switched. Apple mouse on the Mac, and Logitech on the PC. My PC thanks me for giving it the right-mouse button it craves, and my Mac barely notices.

    Once a day or so I'll realize I only have one-button, chuckle, and then move along with my life, happy in the knowledge that one is enough for OS X. I do wish it had a wheel though; I miss that sometimes. I'm sure I'll spring for an extra Logitech at somepoint.

    BTW, the Logitech Cordless MouseMan Optical is the best mouse I've ever used. Accuracy is great. Batteries last forever. And the mouse just feels so good in my hand. It's amazingly ergonomic (unless you're a lefty).

    Justin Dubs
  • Re:About Time. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by macalmaclan (615334) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @07:01PM (#5236120)
    Got to transfer a small file? email it
    Transfer something bigger? Burn a CD
    Or even use your LAN/WAN/WLAN, whatever.
    Basically floppy disks are dead when it comes to file transfer.

    What's this I hear about flashing your BIOS? Last time I did a firmware update on my iMac I dowloaded the file, ran the program, rebooted & held down the "programming" button on the side.
    Quick easy and painless.
    What the big problem with PC mobo makers that they can't get their head's around this?
    If Dell ditch floppies then maybe they'll be forced to devise a better method.
  • by Cryogenes (324121) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @07:18PM (#5236269)
    If you use a RAID controller for connecting your harddisk(s) then you cannot install Win2000 or WinXP without a floppy containing the RAID drivers.
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @07:43PM (#5236447)
    USB2.0 is faster than firewire.

    Sheesh. Is this old myth still being passed around? Three things. First, USB is not isochronous, so it can't be used for guaranteed-rate real-time operations, like video. That's a big deal to some people and completely irrelevant to others.

    The second thing is important to everybody. USB has a lot more overhead than FireWire 400. TechTV did a side-by-side test, both on the same Pentium 4 system, and found that USB could be up to 70% slower than FireWire 400. Here's the article [techtv.com].

    Of course, some people might argue that the test methodology was unscientific or unfair, or whatever. That's fine. Because there's point 3. FireWire 400 is the slowest implementation of FireWire. There's also FireWire 800, which is 66% faster than USB 2.0. Products with FireWire 800 are shipping now, although admittedly there aren't many that can take advantage of that kind of bandwidth.

    At the high end of the scale, there's FireWire 3200. It runs over fiber optic cables at a real-world rate of 3.2 Gbps. I don't know if there are any commercial products available that implement FireWire 3200, but I know of one that's coming down the pipe real soon. FireWire 3200 is, if all goes well, going to be a serious competitor to Fibre Channel in the small-scale storage arena. It's not suitable for storage-area networks or switched fabrics, like FC is, but it's far better at simple computer-to-storage connectivity.

    Firewire is being pretty much relegated to DV cams now.

    Oh, you're so wrong.
  • by Millennium (2451) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @08:07PM (#5236619) Homepage
    Apple dropped the floppy five years ago. The whole industry predicted that either it would kill Apple, or they'd have floppy drives back in the very next generation of machines.

    Neither happened. Life went on, because the floppy really was archaic and outdated; alternatives really did exist.

    Now, granted, these were Macs, which have just about always had much better hardware/software integration than five years previous. As a Mac user myself, this argument of "but what about machines which don't boot off of USB or Firewire?" looks utterly absurd, because, well, why the hell aren't these machines capable of booting off of it? Or this bit about "How can the average user make bootable CD's?"; why the hell should making bootable CD's be so difficult that the average user can't do it?

    Maybe it's just that I come from a Mac background, where things Just Work. But honestly, it sounds like the only reasons to keep the floppy around on the PC would be dealing with fundamental flaws in the PC's architecture. Then again, it's rather ironic that Dell uses a "you wouldn't use a processor that was 15 years old" when they use an outdated architecture that's even older, so maybe there's something to that. A blind insistence on pack-ratting old technologies, maybe, at the expense of advancement?
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Feyr (449684) on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @08:10PM (#5236637) Journal
    my problem is not keeping a laptop for when I need to configure the controllers. it's when the customer asks that a laptop be supplied with the job.

    surely you're not suggesting that i buy a bunch of used laptop and resell those back to customers, are you?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @08:20PM (#5236711)
    so get machines with floppy drives. They're no longer a standard fitting but that doesn't mean you can't specify floppy drives.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2003 @09:34PM (#5237200)
    . . . Until that's available, I want my floppy! CDs are a pain in the ass. Sure I can boot to one, but can I write to it as easily as the floppy I just booted to?

    Dell marketoids dont have the forethought for such things. It wouldn't take much to rig the bios to read flash memory. Sony will probably be first. (Boot to mem-stick!)
  • Re:Blasphemy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Refrag (145266) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @12:21AM (#5238250) Homepage
    You can get a legacy free PC from here [apple.com].
  • by ZillyMonk (581377) on Thursday February 06, 2003 @12:36AM (#5238328)
    I'm a helpdesk worker at a small midwestern college, and all I can say is: Good.

    A few weeks ago, a graduate student came up to me in tears because she was saving her portfolio - at least two year's work on a floppy disk, and all of a sudden it just refused to read it. The disk had gone bad, and she didn't have any backups. I know it was silly of her to not back something like that up, but not everyone is computer literate, and not everyone knows that floppies are one of the most unstable forms of storage media out there.

    In fact, it seems every week someone comes or calls me to magically fix their disk which has their twenty page Shakespeare paper or their proof positive of cold fusion. All I can do is try to use it on the three computers here, and if that doesn't work, say "Sorry, you're out of luck. Use the handy network drive we provide you with next time."

    It kills me every time I have to say that.

    Not a whole lot of people at this college are computer literate, and many don't know how easily disks can go bad. That's not their fault... I'd say it's high time to ditch the floppy, given with how user friendly CD burners have become, especially in regards to how seamlessly they are integrated into XP.

    Think about this. One CD has the capacity of 500 floppies. Now think about how much even a pack of 10 floppies costs when compared to that one CD.

    It's high time that we give the floppy its death knell.

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