Re: Windows use in medical spaces (Re: vintage computers in active use)

Alex McWhirter alexmcwhirter at
Fri May 27 17:05:55 CDT 2016

Where Windows generally fails in my experience is in the idot proofing / automation mechanisms. I can really only comment on Windows 7 as it's what we use in production on our client boxes.
Granted this is a different environment where all machines have access to the internet and thus Windows updates / aplication updates.
Group Policy is something I struggle with regularly. Automatically feeding Group Policy updates to clients is not always straightforward, especially when you need to push application updates to fix important security or functionality bugs. Yes, you can gpupdate /force, but that's only seems to work about 50% of the time and requires user intervention on an admin account.
I've seen issues with the Print Spooler randomly crashing from a partially install printer through group policy. Some kind of event happens similar to a power outage at some point and the printer only partially installed. According to Windows and the group policy management utilities the printers were successfully installed, but all of the driver utilities didn't quite make it causing the Spooler to freak out. When something like this happens event log is almost useless because it just tells you the prinint spooler crashed from an uknown error.
Windows update seems to regularly stop working when a malformed update package is downloaded. You would think it could just checksum it and delete the package rather than failing to install it a few hundred times before a user complains that their workstation won't stop installing upates. I even had a case where a failed update created new registry keys every time it tried to install and after a few months of not being able to do so the machine slowed to be unusable. 
Roaming profiles is an absolute mess, and folder redirection Works decently as long as you disable offline files on all of the clients. Otherwise windows will just randomly decide that it can't connect to the server and only show the users their offline files.
 Windows deployment services on the other hand Works absolutely great and is perfect to put fresh installs on the machines that died from various other issues with windows and / or malware.
This is starting to somewhat turn into a rant, and in all honesty for most things Windows does a pretty good job. Pretty much all the issues I outlined would only affect people using Windows as a workstation OS. Embedded applications generally don't have updates or network connectivity, and thus are probably fine.
That being said my *nix machines have never given me an issue that wasn't easily fixed since they were put in place. I almost forget about them sometimes.
Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

-------- Original message --------
From: Rod Smallwood <rodsmallwood52 at> 
Date: 5/27/2016  5:37 PM  (GMT-05:00) 
To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts" <cctalk at> 
Subject: Re: Windows use in medical spaces (Re: vintage computers in active

On 27/05/2016 22:04, Ali wrote:
>> It makes me wonder how many patients have had to wait on care or didn't
>> get proper care because of an IT screwup related to Windows. I have to
>> say just _seeing_ Windows on machines in the ER made me livid. I found
>> it breathtaking they were that caviler about getting people checked in,
>> keeping records straight, etc... I guess I shouldn't have visited the
>> sausage factory, so to speak...
>> Then again, folks in hospitals probably should be more concerned with
>> patients than with their IT tools. Ugh. Still. Windows? I'd have felt
>> better about paper forms. At least they don't blue screen.
> I would say very few. You have to remember critical systems are not running
> a general windows system i.e. people are not surfing the web on them and
> installing the latest games recommended by friends from facebook. Windows on
> its own is very stable. I.E. if you take a clean install of windows SW on
> recommended HW and just use the built in apps and never go on the internet
> it will run without any issues. Medical HW makers are basically using
> recommended HW, building one application on top of the OS, and test the hell
> out of it. Since they limit the HW, SW, and modality of use it runs stable.
> Almost all (maybe 80%) of your medical HW is probably running some flavor of
> windows.
> Pyxis/Omnicell: Windows CE
> Sonosite: Windows 2K or XP
> EMRs: Windows XP or 7 (usually virtualized through Citrix).
> Heck DOS is still around too!
> The more specialized equipment (fluoro machines, MRI/CT, etc.) usually have
> their own OS although I am seeing C-Arms w/ windows back bones now a days as
> well. As the focus is going toward cost saving more and more generalized
> HW/SW is being used. After all why re-invent everything for each device when
> you can use windows to run the HW, network, input, etc. and just have the
> medical device (e.g. ultrasound probe) act like a peripheral with its own
> drivers.
> Where windows causes an issue for the hospital is in the general business
> areas (HR, accounting, administration, etc.).
> -Ali
Please can we have some specific instances of  Windows causing problems.
Not unqualified people at home or students but real production 
environments with qualified support on hand.
I used every version of windows from 1 to 10.  yes XP and millennium too

I wrote time and mission critical food distribution related software for 
the ten years before I retired in vb and then (oo)  I would have 
seen just about every possible bug in windows and in developing 
applications under it.

Lets hear what others experienced.


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