Japanese airline still using some startling old, almost 20-year-old computer tech, traveler learns

18-Jan-2020 Intellasia | SoraNews | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Air carrier has stuck with its airport OS for longer than just about any private PC user.

Skymark Airlines might not be as well-known as Japan’s two largest carriers, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, but it’s still Japan’s biggest air travel provider outside the JAL and ANA corporate umbrellas. As a machinery-reliant company in an advanced economy, you’d probably expect Skymark to be on the technological cutting edge in each and every aspect of its business, but Japanese traveler and Twitter user @imogine0000 recently learned otherwise.

After arriving at the airport to hop a Skymark flight to his destination, @imogine0000 headed to the carrier’s bank of self-check-in terminals. However, before he could complete the process a glitch occurred, and the terminal had to shut itself down. As the system began to reboot @imogine0000 recognised the DOS/V startup screen, and figured Skymark’s check-in terminals were probably running on Windows 10, but it turned out his guess was way off…like almost two decades off.

It turns out that Japan’s largest independent air carrier, at least at the airport @imogine0000 was flying out of, still runs Windows XP for its self-check-in machines. For those of you who haven’t memorised the family tree of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows XP was released all the way back in 2001, and was pushed aside with the introduction of Windows Vista in 2007. Windows XP is five generations older than the current standard, Windows 10, and Microsoft officially ended support for the system six years ago. Heck, the day @imogine0000 sent his tweet, January 14, was also the day that service ended for Windows 7, the successor to XP’s successor Vista.

But while plenty of people were surprised to see the practically ancient OS rise from the dead like this, other commenters could feel a certain logic in the situation.

“There are a lot of internal business devices that still run on XP. Sometimes I see them when I’m at hospitals. Basically as long as you don’t need the terminal to connect to the Internet, it works just fine.”

“If it’s not connecting to the Internet, there aren’t any additional security risks from using XP, so it’ll do the job.”

“XP is a fine OS. I still run it on my non-online connected PC.”

“No problem there. I still have a PC I run Windows 2000 on, and it works fine and dandy.”

But even if Skymark could continue using Windows XP, why would it? The popular theory is tied to the company’s status as a low-cost carrier. Skymark can’t compete with JAL and ANA in terms of luxury or the number of routes/planes it flies, and instead attracts customers by offering much more affordable tickets. In turn, it needs to stay focused on keeping operating costs down, and upgrading every self check-in terminal it’s already installed in airports across the country would be a major expense. So as long as using old tech isn’t presenting any risks to passenger safety, security, or convenience, Skymark appears to be taking the philosophy of “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”, which isn’t an entirely shocking school of thought regarding technology in Japan.



Category: Japan

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