Why We LOVE Floppy Disks!
Septmber 1999

Mac users love to defend their new machines' lack of a floppy disk drive. Well, they have a point, provided they keep the discussion limited to the Mac. However, there are some serious, serious reasons why users of non-Mac platforms want and need a floppy drive.

The first and most important reason is testing for Y2K. You really can't do a serious Year-2000 test without using a bootable Y2K floppy disk. And when you talk about Y2K problems, what other kind of personal computing device could you mean, except an IBM-compatible running a DOS-based system, such as Windows? The hardware needs clock and BIOS testing, and the software usually needs patches as well. When the big 2000 rolls over, some PCs may not be able to access the Web to get their updates, so floppies will be required just to get back on line.

The second and almost as important reason is Device Drivers. Since non-Mac platforms need device drivers to talk to printers, modems, video cards, sound cards, etc., then people need to be able to load these drivers. For example, using a CD-ROM or Zip drive may not work unless the drivers are first loaded from -- you guessed it -- a floppy diskette. The best part about floppy drives is that they are hardware-level compatible with all OS's, so they don't need any special drivers. That makes floppies the "foundation" upon which the rest of the system is built.

Finally, the most important use of all: changing operating systems. Since IBM-compatibles have so many OS's to choose from -- and yet, paradoxically, are force-fed the monopolized Windows OS instead of allowing choice -- there are a large number of PC users who want and need to change operating systems, or perhaps add an extra OS and a multiple-boot option. Needless to say, only a bootable floppy diskette set can accomplish a full-blown OS change, such as dumping Windows and replacing it with OS/2 or Linux.

So you see, from a PC perspective a floppy diskette drive is an absolute necessity. The Mac world has little use for them because of having fewer Y2K problems, fewer device compatibility issues, and less operating systems to choose from. It's an interesting tradeoff.

Most recent revision: September 5, 1999
Copyright © 1999, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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