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Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Linksys

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the buy-and-revive-the-linux-ones dept.

Businesses 180

New submitter drdread66 writes "Cisco seems to be giving up on another technology acquisition. Hot on the heels of a full writedown for shuttering Flip Video, Cisco is now looking at another potentially huge loss from unloading Linksys."

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180 comments

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Good move. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42312817)

It was a brand dilution problem and confused SME's into assuming that they had the Cisco Enterprise grade equipment when Linksys are just toys.

Re:Good move. (5, Insightful)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 2 years ago | (#42312835)

It wouldn't have been such a problem if they'd kept calling things Linksys, and not put the Cisco Systems logo all over everything. Then releasing all the Linksys kit as Cisco SMB - that was just crazy.

Re:Good move. (5, Interesting)

CAIMLAS (41445) | about 2 years ago | (#42312863)

No, that was never such a problem. Who cares about the badging? The problem was that Cisco tried to make Linksys products - which competed on price value first and foremost - into Cisco products - which compete on threat of failure and job security. Huge difference!

The problems were:

* they abandoned the home market through marketing and getting rid of all the products which appealed to home users
* they increased the prices of the Linksys products - because, well, they're badged Cisco SMB now.
* they didn't improve the Linksys products, they made most of them worse (the latest SMB routers are completely useless; I'd rather have a PIX501)

It's not like Cisco has all that great a reputation in the SMB market, either. Fine for enterprise, but people who know SMB know that Cisco is stupid for SMB on so many different levels, the least of which is cost/benefit being so incredibly high vs. pretty much everything else.

Re:Good move. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42312987)

I don't work in IT and am simply an end user, but I can largely agree with this out of my own experience.

I used to associate Linksys with something that worked, with no frills and a bottom 30% price tag. I just bought a router and would in the past have looked straight at the Linksys ones because it doesn't have to do any tricks. These days however I have no idea what I'm supposed to associate Linksys with.

Illustrates the value of brand identity.

Re:Good move. (1)

crafty.munchkin (1220528) | about 2 years ago | (#42313009)

Unfortunately the saying "no one ever got fired for buying Cisco" hung around after the Linksys acquisition and subsequent badging.

Re:Good move. (4, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 2 years ago | (#42313337)

I disagree, I think the Cisco SG300 and SG500 series switches are excellent value for what they are. A good quality introduction into managed switches with a decent feature set, and essentially running catos light (okay maybe light light would be better).

I picked up 2 of them on Amazon a while back (20 port and 10 port), and they are perfect for the small business. The downside (at least from Cisco's standpoint), is that had they not had they not purchased Linksys, and retool the business class products into Cisco branded slightly upgraded small business devices at a much cheaper price point, those same businesses may have actually purchased the lower end Cisco enterprise products (Catalyst etc) at a much higher price point.

So the move probably cannibalized some of those sales.

Either way, having used Cisco, Juniper, Extreme, Fore and many more in a past life, I can say that the SG series are at least decent pieces of equipment. However, a caveat is that I never used Linksys business products before Cisco bought them, so I do not know how much better (or potentially worse) they have become outside of the pricing of said devices.

Re:Good move. (5, Funny)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 2 years ago | (#42314107)

A good quality introduction into managed switches

So...a gateway drug...?

Re:Good move. (1)

Khyber (864651) | about 2 years ago | (#42314197)

I believe the person you're replying to is talking about their routers, not switches.

Re:Good move. (5, Insightful)

colfer (619105) | about 2 years ago | (#42313493)

Linksys did not precisely compete on price value. In the realm of stores like Office Dept, Linksys was top end. After Cisco, the packaging and casing got more extreme, comparative prices went up, all the while bargain basement brands went from unreliable to fine. Didn't help that Linksys alienated the tech-savvy segment of the mass market by killing the routers that could easily be converted to open source community firmware.

Re:Good move. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42314649)

I'm personally inclined to wonder if the Cisco Linksys acquisition was really an optimistic attempt to kneecap a potential competitor(Linksys certainly didn't have the really classy stuff, like redundant PSUs and such, nor did it have ios-equivalent commands to make your enterprise admins happy; but the capabilities of a relatively feeble ARM/MIPS SoC running linux were getting uncomfortably close to those of Cisco's ~$500-ish branch-office routers, and Linksys was putting out some definitely-adequate-for-the-money not-wholly-unmanaged rack switches and things) that ended up underestimating how quickly the utter crap segment would move toward adequacy.

Before the market's maturation, there was some genuine shit being sold as consumer network gear(and there still is, if you get unlucky, though it's harder to feel cheated when your $15 allegedly-wireless-N router flakes out after 6 months than it was back when your $80-$100 allegedly-wireless-B router flakes out after 6 months of only actually connecting to your laptop half the time); but the basic strategy of shoving a modestly powerful SoC from one of the major wireless vendors onto a more-or-less reference design PCB and equipping it either with Linux(on the high end) or VXworks(for the real cheap seats) is something that even the nastiest bottom feeders can usually get mostly right. The firmware will usually be terrible; but the nasty bottom feeders also have no real incentive to lock out 3rd-party firmware, which has gotten pretty decent.

If the consumer/SOHO networking market still looked like it did when Linksys was purchased, the buy might actually have been a good idea: assimilate the company that was getting a little uppity in terms of feature sets for the money, bump the prices on their classier gear, nerf the features on their lower end stuff, and call it a day. Trouble is, outside of the extremely low end(where margins are so tight that you can't even be sure that the wall-wart won't set your house on fire), shoving SoCs in plastic boxes is totally commodified and firmware(while each vendor seems to have a perverse desire to roll their own shitty version, rather than just slapping a lightly branded OpenWRT build on it) has gotten better over time, and still has a marginal cost of $0 to ship the nicest and most featureful build you have available to you. That's just not a place where Cisco can win: Cisco has a high-margin/lots of features market to protect, so they do incur a cost if they start shipping their good firmware on cheap hardware; but 'tenda' or 'trendnet' or any other "Who the hell are they?" outfit has nothing to lose and everything to gain if their firmware is as good as it can possibly be. They don't necessarily have the cash to actually write good firmware, and that firmware won't be running on good hardware; but even bad hardware can be pretty good, and the overall quality of embedded linuxes has gotten significantly better.

Re:Good move. (2)

sribe (304414) | about 2 years ago | (#42313601)

...the latest SMB routers are completely useless...

I suspect that's the core of it. Can't disagree with your other points, but for me this is why my small business will never again attempt to use a Cisco product. Web-base config software that simply did not fucking work, forcing me to try to learn the basics of IOS, and then when I did get it configured (well, I think), it still didn't work right.

Re:Good move. (4, Insightful)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 years ago | (#42312909)

Any manager that buys Linksys branded hardware because "it's made by Cisco" should be fired or demoted, at least given a single stern warning if you're feeling generous.

Re:Good move. (4, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#42313077)

Since Linksys was actually a home user brand, that problem didn't exist until Cisco came in and started slapping "Cisco" all over the product.

Brands are targeted at a market for a reason.Linksys pre-acquisition made perfectly serviceable home user grade hardware at a good price. Cisco totally screwed it up.

Re:Good move. (2)

ifrag (984323) | about 2 years ago | (#42313225)

Linksys pre-acquisition made perfectly serviceable home user grade hardware.

This was demonstrably false in earlier Linksys "router" hardware. The first "router" I used from Linksys required bi-weekly reboots to function at all. None of the firmware updates improved this, and some releases even made it worse.

Perhaps the quality has improved in later models, I wasn't willing to give it a second chance.

Re:Good move. (2)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#42313367)

May depend on the model, I had a WRT54G that I could ignore for months at a time, and typically it only needed attention because the ADSL line it was connected to got flaky.

Re:Good move. (4, Interesting)

Skater (41976) | about 2 years ago | (#42313585)

May depend on the model, I had a WRT54G that I could ignore for months at a time, and typically it only needed attention because the ADSL line it was connected to got flaky.

Heck, I'm still using a WRT54G (1.1 I think) for my home network that I bought in 2001ish. A couple years back, I updated the firmware to support WPA encryption and it still works perfectly - I never have any problems with it, I don't need to reboot it, it just works. (I should note I use it only as a wireless access point, not a router.) I'm watching prices on a dual-band N with gigabit ethernet router to replace it, but so far I haven't gotten around to it, in part because I hear so much that newer routers aren't as reliable.

Re:Good move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42314391)

Parent only underpins what I wanted to say: How sad is it that a model sold before the 2003 Cisco buyout is still the go-to model for reliability? Anyone arguing that it isn't, need only look at the top-rated model on newegg [newegg.com] . I'm sure it's undergone minor revision changes since then, But I bet the bulk of the hardware and software remains unchanged since 2003.

Re:Good move. (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#42314721)

I'm sure it's undergone minor revision changes since then, But I bet the bulk of the hardware and software remains unchanged since 2003.

Just a note, for the reference of anybody reading this: The WRT-54/GL is very similar to the wildly popular classic WRT-54G that put the 'WRT' in 'OpenWRT' and 'DD-WRT'. However, the WRT-54G(non L) has gone through something like 5 revisions, and the later ones are more or less entirely different animals in the same box. Less flash, less RAM, vxworks(yeah, like hell it works) based firmware, poor compatibility with anything but the most stripped down 3rd-party firmwares. In fact, the 'L' model was actually a re-release of the older revision designed to cater to the enthusiasts who had been alienated by the later revisions of the 54G.

If you go shopping, just be sure you know which is which. I don't know how the 54GL holds up against the newer models from non-linksys sources; but anything being sold as a WRT-54G(unless it specifically specifies one of the earlier, better revision numbers) is shit and probably not worth the money.

Re:Good move. (1)

ifrag (984323) | about 2 years ago | (#42314417)

May depend on the model, I had a WRT54G

I'm talking about BEFS... generation hardware, pre-WRT. I think by the time WRT rolled around they finally started to fix some of their garbage.

Re:Good move. (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | about 2 years ago | (#42314689)

BEFSX41 or something like that. In the day, Kazaa/Morpheus would crush mine and require a reboot, as would random days throughout the month.

In 2006, I replaced it with a D-Link DGL-4100 which only needed to be rebooted when I felt like upgrading the firmware or (more irritatingly) when changing certain features. IN 2008, I went to Cisco 1711 router for the experience, and then to an ASA5505.

Re:Good move. (3, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#42312967)

It wouldn't have been such a problem if they'd kept calling things Linksys, and not put the Cisco Systems logo all over everything. Then releasing all the Linksys kit as Cisco SMB - that was just crazy.

A route to disaster?

Re:Good move. (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#42313039)

It wouldn't have been such a problem if they'd kept calling things Linksys, and not put the Cisco Systems logo all over everything. Then releasing all the Linksys kit as Cisco SMB - that was just crazy.

A route to disaster?

Try issuing the Windows command "route /print" and see.

Re:Good move. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#42313087)

It wouldn't have been such a problem if they'd kept calling things Linksys, and not put the Cisco Systems logo all over everything. Then releasing all the Linksys kit as Cisco SMB - that was just crazy.

A route to disaster?

and RIP [wikipedia.org] to the Linksys brand.

Re:Good move. (1)

Gumbercules!! (1158841) | about 2 years ago | (#42313523)

A very good move. Our company had a blanket "no Linksys" rule - because everything they made was utter junk. We initially started out buying a fair amount of their smart switches, because the price was so compelling. However they failed so frequently, we actually had to issue an edict that no more Linksys products were allowed to be purchased.

Re:Good move. (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#42312911)

This is just crap. The first thing that happened when Linksys was bought was that the quality went down the toilet. It happened *immediately* and too quickly for it to be a coinicidence. If there was and "dilution" problem it was because Cisco wanted it to be there.

Linksys put out one of the first wi-fi routers that could be modified and had real power. The first outdoor wi-fi system I ever put out as a newbie was using WRS hardware. Linksys was a real competitor to Cisco as they were putting out very affordable hardware that wasn't garbage. Small business was using Linksys as an alternative to bloated and hard to use Cisco products.

I don't recommend any Linksys products these days from basic 5 pt switches on up because Cisco made sure they were crap for their own reasons.

Re:Good move. (1)

lipanitech (2620815) | about 2 years ago | (#42313033)

They spent 500 million for the purchase in 2003 I wonder if they every got there money worth out of the company. I do hope linksys stays around they make good home and small business solutions at a reasonable price.

Re:Good move. (1, Informative)

war4peace (1628283) | about 2 years ago | (#42313059)

I have a Linksys WRT120N.
It sucks fat cock. Wireless network fails on a daily basis and on two machines it never reconnects. Once a week, Wireless module goes down completely, I have to reset the router. About twice a month, my wired bandwidth slows to a crawl (10-50 kB/s) and I have to... you know... reset the router. And about every 6-7 weeks, my PPPoE "forgets" credentials, and I have to enter them again, and... you know... reset the router.

Furthermore, for the last 6 months I was unable to change large parts of router configuration, because every time I click Save, I receive a fat cock-sucking Error 500. For this one, resetting the router doesn't help.

The message I sent across to everybody I know was and is: Stay Away From Linksys.

Re:Good move. (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 2 years ago | (#42313149)

I have a (refurbished) WRT150N, and have bought two others for parents/grandparents. With the stock firmware, they're everything you described. However, with DD-WRT, they've been some of the most reliable devices I've worked with, up to and including Cisco's enterprise hardware. I've had a similar experience with one of their newer models (E2000 or something? I forget the actual number) - ultimate crap with the stock firmware but excellent performance and reliability under DD-WRT.

Re:Good move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313185)

I agree with the sibling. I've never heard of a home router working with the stock firmware. You always have to install something else like DD-WRT. (Personally, I like Tomato's UI.)

Re:Good move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313513)

"I have a Linksys WRT120N."

My sympathies, that's really a piece of shit!

Re:Good move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313189)

Linksys put out one of the first wi-fi routers that could be modified and had real power.

Still running a couple of WRT54Gs. That raises an interesting question, what is the canonical home/SOHO router these days? (Beyond eBay and DD-WRT, that is.)

Re:Good move. (1)

tibit (1762298) | about 2 years ago | (#42313269)

For home use, I think that Apple's Time Capsule is a good bet.

Re:Good move. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313219)

I have a BEFSR41, BEFSR81, and a CIT400 iPhone (not to be confused with the Apple iPhone which shares the same trademark).

BEFSR41 worked fine, but I needed more ports. BEFSR81 is buggy in the sense that if I remember correctly (been a while since I've logged in), after a few days the pages are like white or blank for accessing the settings. In other words, the BEFSR81 needs a reboot before you can change things after running for a few days.

I love my CIT400 which I use for Skype. It still works to the day. I've had some minor problems, but I don't know if it was the phone's fault; problems such as my contacts disappearing (I do backups now and I can reload them using the software, not the hardware) and needing to reboot the phone because of connectivity issues (not being able to access contacts).

Re:Good move. (1)

digitalaudiorock (1130835) | about 2 years ago | (#42314061)

I have a Linksys E1200 router and can verify first hand that it's a POS. Every few weeks it flakes out and some, but not all machines connected to it loose access to the network. It's on the newest firmware, and I even factory reset it and reconfigured everything as a last ditch attempt to address it. I had a bad feeling when when I went to upgrade the firmware and it prompted for which "hardware version" I had...1 or 2. Mine didn't indicate which, and it took a little doing to find it was "version 1". My take on that is that version 1 was the "defective hardware we should have replaced for free". Compete and utter junk. I made the mistake of confusing them with the Linksys of yesteryear...never again.

Will EMC follow with Iomega? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42312821)

The Cicsco purchase of Linksys was closely mirrored by the EMC purchase of Iomega. Will EMC look to unload Iomega now? Anyone wanting to buy one would likely be interested in the other.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#42312859)

I'm at a loss as to why anybody on Earth would want anything to do with iomega. Maybe you could explain it to me. Like I'm five.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 2 years ago | (#42312893)

Iomega only had widespread success in that short time period between floppy disks and widespread CD-RWs. Ever since then they have spent their time selling useless products at inflated prices with their usual slipshod drive quality. At best they could be selling tape drives by now. The DVD-RW market is saturated and flash drives do the rest of the tasks we would use removable storage so... what are they supposed to be doing then? Holographic storage? Heh.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | about 2 years ago | (#42312947)

It looks like they're just pounding out ho-hum NAS boxes like the old Buffalo terastations, and a few rackmount storage servers.

We had an earlier generation iomega rackmount at work. I swear it was there before I got there. The thing was a miserable clusterfuck of bad hardware and software choices. I'd be surprised if they're much better at it now.

I guess it makes sense though. It doesn't make a lot of sense to go into high end storage equipment with a name you see on a Best Buy shelf, and there's not much in the way of unique storage solutions in the home user market.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 years ago | (#42313007)

what are they supposed to be doing then? Holographic storage? Heh.

The right thing to do would have been to take the bags of money they made selling ZIP disks and invest it in next-generation storage of some kind. As you say, even holographic. This would have given the company a chance at a future, though they would have had to fire a shitload of people and go into near-dormancy when removable magnetic media got shit upon by flash RAM becoming inexpensive. Instead they chose the long road to extinction.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 2 years ago | (#42313075)

Iomega Jaz drives had about a 2-week lifespan. Where I worked, we had a period of time where we needed to ship about 1 GB of data at a time to/from clients on short notice, and they were the only option.

We treated them as disposables.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (3, Interesting)

karnal (22275) | about 2 years ago | (#42313201)

Which sucked, in my opinion. Zip drives and Jaz drives (and their media) were an excellent idea, but poorly executed. My first zip drive ate a few disks before I figured out "if I use this drive, it will destroy everything." Took it apart before returning it (hey, we all want to know the "WHY") and one of the drive heads was physically disconnected from the arm.

Had a Jaz drive later in life (donated). And you're right, the disks themselves appeared to randomly either not work or lose data. Almost seemed as if the tracking mechanism in the drive couldn't follow the pre-formatted platters properly at times. And any drive that you can't lay down the track (factory formatted) sucks.

Re:Will EMC follow with Iomega? (4, Interesting)

snsh (968808) | about 2 years ago | (#42314241)

Iomega's blunder with Zip was that for too long Iomega only sold them with external parallel-port and SCSI interfaces. By the time they started offering internal drives, PC's were shipping with 4GB hard drives and 720MB CD burners so 100MB and 250MB zip media was already obselete. I don't understand what took Iomega so long to make an internal version. Internal drives would probably be cheaper to manufacture and support, and Iomega probably could have made even more money with internal drives sold through system builders. Companies would have had them preinstalled in every computer, instead of having one or two drives shared around the office.

I remember spending a lot of time messing around with Centronics extension cables and EPP/ECP settings on Windows 3.1 and 95 boxes to manage external Zip drives. What a waste.

My theory on how this could have been avoided (1)

nopainogain (1091795) | about 2 years ago | (#42312825)

They could have improved the gui, maybe gone with some improved hardening tools like are found in the Cisco Works environment or the Cisco ASDM. Maybe borrowed some goodies from the Wireless Lan Controller interface. To me as a user of all the above, it doesn't look like they did much of anything to improve the Linksys brand other than throw out a couple 802.11N longer-range tools and go with the flow of everyone else for adopting WPA.

Re:My theory on how this could have been avoided (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313199)

They could have improved the gui, maybe gone with some improved hardening tools like are found in the Cisco Works environment or the Cisco ASDM. Maybe borrowed some goodies from the Wireless Lan Controller interface. To me as a user of all the above, it doesn't look like they did much of anything to improve the Linksys brand other than throw out a couple 802.11N longer-range tools and go with the flow of everyone else for adopting WPA.

Bingo. I was at least hoping for some type of basic CLI environment instead of the horribly shitty http-based GUI's they use. And a freaking console port, for the love of all that's holy, instead of full in-band read/write access. But then again I work on Carrier grade networks, and working with the Big Gear makes me kind of spoiled when it comes to that sort of thing.

hot firmwarez (1, Funny)

pinfall (2430412) | about 2 years ago | (#42312833)

How's that cloudy, autoupdatey, monitorey thing workin for ya?

Re:hot firmwarez (2)

alphatel (1450715) | about 2 years ago | (#42313047)

How's that cloudy, autoupdatey, monitorey thing workin for ya?

We bought Linksys products without question for years, and enjoyed implemented great mini-features like site-to-site vpn or protocol filtering, forwarding, masking etc for all of our clients.
As soon as they became a Cisco product, the quality, engineering and overall security of the products became questionable, and we started moving our soho/consumers to other brands, even though we liked them even less.

I simply could not see any good coming out of selling hardware which would monitor our clients behavior without their explicit consent.

Firmware (5, Informative)

cgt (1976654) | about 2 years ago | (#42312851)

I'm glad they're suffering. They deserve to suffer for their decision to force their evil cloud firmware on people.

Re:Firmware (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#42312871)

This issue didn't get all the attention it deserved. And now it likely won't.

Re:Firmware (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#42313175)

Probably because anyone who would know why it was an issue already knew that Linksys gear was shit from, pretty much, the moment Cisco bought it.

Re:Firmware (3, Insightful)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 2 years ago | (#42313311)

Or we knew that flashing DD-WRT instead of the PoS Cisco firmware would remove the problem within one hour of the device arriving at our domiciles. (I bought a Linksys WRT160NL just a month ago, works perfectly fine with a proper firmware. Current uptime 29 days.)

Re:Firmware (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 2 years ago | (#42314011)

To be fair, it only removes the software problems. In my experience, build quality also suffered (cooling issues, radio 'brownouts' on Wifi devices, etc..) and, sadly, aren't repaired by firmware.

It's about time. (4, Interesting)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 2 years ago | (#42312853)

Linksys produced some decent gear prior to the acquisition. After Cisco bought the company, the default answer for any sort of serious trouble with SOHO gear became "oh, I see you're referring to our Linksys brand; if you're serious about small office or branch office communications, you need to upgrade to our HOLY SHIT THAT'S EXPENSIVE Cisco brand gear instead." This applied nearly universally to cases where a prior generation piece of Linksys gear had performed quite well in the same role. Here's to hoping the brand can get back to its roots instead of serving as a loss leader for more expensive gear.

Re:It's about time. (4, Interesting)

BlueBlade (123303) | about 2 years ago | (#42312917)

On the other hand, there's a reason Cisco gear is expensive: it's enterprise class. A few months ago I went to a client's site to help expend a microwave network. Prior to doing the upgrade, I asked what gear was running at the remote location. "It's all Cisco switches and routers!", I was told. So we start working, installing new fiber lines and antennas. At one point, I needed to remotely shut down a switchport in one of remote locations to prevent a spanning loop. I try ssh, then telnet, no connection. I try http, and what do I see, it's one of those "Linksys by Cisco" SMB switch. That particular model didn't allow me to shut down a single port, nor did it allow me to re-allocate the limited PoE wattage to new equipment. Also, as far as I could see, no real diagnostic info on the ports, other than a packet counter and up/down status.

We lost almost 2 hours to send someone to drive to the location and back, just to unplug a network cable. Now, I'm not going to say that Linksys switches aren't perfectly fine in some small business environments, but once you start having a big network they're a headache. Rebranding consumer-grade equipment with the Cisco trademark was one of the stupidest decision I've seen a large company make. Every networking professional I've talked to thought it was a terrible idea; it's almost impossible to see how management could ever even consider the idea, let alone go ahead with it.

It's decisions like this one that make me think that Cisco's hegemony in the network is coming to an end. You can't have management that clueless and thrive. Also, they're still acting like they're the only game in town, with prices that are borderline ridiculous and byzantine licensing rules (ASA licensing, I'm looking at you!). It's a good thing Juniper has grown up and is now making some pretty awesome routers for very good prices. On the switch level, Cisco is still ahead of the pack, but other vendors like HP are stepping up.

I think it's sad, because Cisco hardware tends to be awesome. Hopefully Cisco can go back to having more engineers making some business decisions, because the current leadership certainly doesn't understand the moving market.

Re:It's about time. (3, Insightful)

philip.paradis (2580427) | about 2 years ago | (#42312951)

Speaking as someone who deals with Cisco gear on nearly a daily basis, I fully agree with the premise of people needing to understand the difference between Cisco gear and alternatives designed for smaller environments. That said, most of the issues with Linksys products in recent years have been attributable to Cisco neglecting the hell out of Linksys branded product lines, and simply using the resulting failures to attempt to sell Cisco branded gear. It's been truly shameful, and I'd love to see it come to a stop.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42312997)

What you are talking about is a totally different situation than anyplace linksys gear should have been used in. I think that's the piont you're trying to make though. Cisco gear is high end enterprise level stuff. Linksys stuff was great home/soho equipment BEFORE cisco bought them. After cisco bought linksys, the ruined the entire product line. In reality, they made it worse when they rebranded all of it cisco, now you have crappy equipment with a trusted name, all that does is ruin cisco's reputation across the board. Cisco should have keep the linksys equipment branded as linksys to make a clear distiction, and should have leveraged on the strength of linksys, that they made good cheap equipment. Greed led to stupid decisions that ruined one product line, and tarnished the reputation of the other in the soho market.

Re:It's about time. (3, Informative)

b1t r0t (216468) | about 2 years ago | (#42313147)

Admittedly, one of the reasons Cisco bought them was because so many people didn't need maximum-speed minimum-latency ASIC-based routing (and certainly not L3 switching) in an era when 32 bit CPUs were cheap enough for consumer gear; being able to remotely get a CLI on a device in another city and individually control ports; or even the plethora of different standards to link multiple offices. (A simple watchdog timer would have been nice in Linksys gear, though.) A good part of the price of Cisco gear can be justified simply by not having to travel multiple hours just to push a button to reboot something. A lot of very small companies didn't need that, which is why Cisco was scared enough of market erosion to buy them.. But your example shows just how bad it was to forcibly re-brand everything as Cisco.

I'm sure the reason Cisco did the rebranding was simply out of their habit of Acquire and Absorb. This worked for enterprise stuff that was a somewhat niche market when Cisco bought them, when the acquisition was a good fit for their switching/routing architecture. But Linksys wasn't enterprise stuff. And Cisco didn't understand consumer stuff. Or the consumer market.

And then there was the "red-headed stepchild" angle. I was a Cisco employee at the time of the acquisition. We couldn't even buy Linksys gear at a decent discount through the employee hardware purchase program. I wanted a Linksys 24-port gigabit switch to use at home. Guess who I bought it from? Dell.com had the best price, and it was easier to order, too.

Re:It's about time. (5, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#42313263)

That's Cisco's own damn fault. The hardware in the Linksys is perfectly capable of doing all of those things, except Cisco simply chooses to disable that functionality in firmware to coerce you into buying the EXACT SAME HARDWARE with different, much more expensive, non-crippled firmware.

Even the cheaper Micrel or Realtek switch fabrics support things like individual port enable and PoE allocation, and feature-rich diagnostics via a serial register interface.

They're falling into the same trap that automakers are. "If you want a $400 sunroof, you have to buy the $4500 leather and NAV package."

If you want to be able to turn of an individual port, you have to buy the $5000 switch with eleventy features you don't want, rather than the $100 switch.

Re:It's about time. (0)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 2 years ago | (#42313525)

If you didn't ask what models said hardware was then you didn't do your due diligence. That's all part of the standard discovery done when planning and executing a network project, or any project involving hardware for that matter.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Nethead (1563) | about 2 years ago | (#42313793)

Take a look at some of the TrendNet. Their managed layer 2 gigE line is good and cheap.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42314677)

On the other hand, there's a reason Cisco gear is expensive: it's enterprise class. [...] with prices that are borderline ridiculous

Pick a point, bucko.

Re:It's about time. (1)

KMnO4 (684253) | about 2 years ago | (#42312937)

I'm not sure the branding was always the problem. cf: http://www.amazon.com/Cisco-SD2005-5-port-Gigabit-Switch/dp/B0000C20XG/ [amazon.com]

Re:It's about time. (2)

BlueBlade (123303) | about 2 years ago | (#42312965)

That's entirely my point. What you link to isn't Cisco gear, it's rebranded Linksys. Any switch that isn't running Cisco IOS (or at least CatOS for the older chassis switches) isn't real Cisco gear. All Cisco did was confusing average person and destroy the good reputation of the Cisco brand.

Re:It's about time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313669)

you do know there are multiple operating systems that all
claim to be cisco ios, right?

Re:It's about time. Indeed. (5, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | about 2 years ago | (#42313111)

I work for a large enterprise. We "should" be buying more expensive gear. However...

We had a series of small conference rooms that often hosted meetings requiring WIFI access to one of our "play" networks that's isolated from most everything else. We bought a couple of the SMB Linksys/Cisco wireless access points. I believe they were about $500 each. We immediately had problems with them dropping connections, even with small numbers of users. A call to Cisco resulted in "um...you're at megacorp? Buy our enterprise gear. With your discount, surely you can "upgrade" for only a few thousand". And that was that. There was little effort put into solving the problem other than trying to shoo us into buying more expensive equipment. We ultimately punted them all, returned them for a full refund, and are now using access points from Asus that cost us less than 1/2 of the price and work flawlessly.

Lesson learned.

Re:It's about time. Indeed. (2)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 2 years ago | (#42313567)

Whoever you were talking to.. you got screwed.. why spend $500 a piece for Linksys branded Cisco equipment, when you could have picked up Cisco Aeronet 2600's (or the equiv back whenever), for around $600, and that is not even the lower end of the Aeronet range...

Re:It's about time. (1)

Thorodin (1999352) | about 2 years ago | (#42313191)

I hope you haven't copyrighted "Holy Shit..." cause I'm going use it. That's a great line and can be applied to many companies such as EMC and Cisco. In fact, later today I'm attending a kick-off meeting for our VOIP project with Cisco gear. Now, if I can just get up the guts to use that phrase with the CFO in attendance.

Re:It's about time. (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about 2 years ago | (#42313783)

Do it! Report the results.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Vrallis (33290) | about 2 years ago | (#42314565)

Actually, Linksys *used to* produce some decent gear a couple years before the acquisition. In the last 2-4 years prior their quality went completely to crap. I've always wondered what the hell Cisco was thinking basically damaging their reputation by continuing to manufacture the same garbage Linksys had been producing the last couple years.

Very Good Move (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#42312915)

Cisco never did anything with Linksys anyway. Cisco treated Linksys as a red-headed step child. Often the firmware updates didn't fix the bugs I was hoping. The IPSEC implementation on many of their Linksys brand routers is still broken and I could go on and on.

Santa Claus (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313069)

Cisco. Do you want to see Santa Claus dancing ? : Santa Claus [youtube.com]

I would buy it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313099)

$1 for the assets and CISCO can keep the liabilities. Seems fair!

Cisco deserves to lose millions on this (3, Interesting)

Tridus (79566) | about 2 years ago | (#42313113)

They totally screwed up this acquisition from beginning to end. Back when they bought Linksys, it was a highly competitive brand in its market segmenet. Now it's a joke, with poor quality hardware by the standard of other home networking gear, overpriced, and features total nonsense like cloud-based router configuration that nobody sane asked for. Cisco's answer to all this is "oh, you just need to spend 5x more on Cisco gear instead."

Why would I do that in my house, Cisco? I'll just buy from the competition instead and wind up with a negative view of your entire brand. I don't know if Linksys has any talent left in the company after how badly Cisco has screwed it up, but I hope they can recover once they're put under competent management. I still have fond memories of the old WRT54, which worked so well for so many years.

Re:Cisco deserves to lose millions on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313829)

I still run a WRT54G... it's actually running HyperWRT which is long since transformed into Tomato along the way, but I think the only times the thing has been rebooted in the past 5 years has literally been when I lost power (which being in the NE has been 3x in the past 2 years with 2 hurricanes and a snowstorm that conked me out for 4-5days each). Quite honestly, it "just works".

I have a 160N with DDWRT, that works well too - their stock firmware was total crap.

They were on the downhill slide since Cisco bought them, until the "cloud based config" fiasco, and that made me and I'm sure a whole host of other people say "F-that, I'm never ever going near Linksys again". Maybe that was their intent, thinking it would drive people towards real (read: expen$ive) Cisco hardware - but honestly, people bought "soho" routers *because* they didn't want to spend outrageous amounts of money... and there's other vendors out there that will work just fine for a lot less than Cisco's inflated prices.

Re:Cisco deserves to lose millions on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313879)

The problem for Cisco was that Linksys was *too* good when it was an independent brand. Cisco pretty much had no opportunity in the SMB market left, as Linksys pretty much ruled as king. At the time, only Linksys had such a strong image/product line. People described them as 'no frills' but a great deal of the appeal was that even if Linksys didn't invest the resources to provide feature/function, they had so much third-party firmware. Pretty much every function a home or SMB could ask for, they could have for themselves.

Cisco thought 'hey, it's just one brand, we'll purchase them, castrate their products to reduce degree they compete with 'enterprise' Cisco offerings, and take the revenue the products continue to earn on reputation". Suddenly those cheapo routers were changed from Linux to VxWorks and specs *reduced* in order to distance them from enterprise capable products. Problem being that the changes were blatantly obvious to the customer base and competitors, and whilst Linksys became overpriced crippled equipment, competitors began reproducing the former Linksys success (e.g. Asus now goes so far as to pay third party firmware developers for their network equipment).

Basically, the strategy probably did what it was supposed to do for a little while, stall the rate at which cost-efficient competitors ate into Cisco's share. Now, however, Linksys is no longer a threat and there are too many competitors of former Linksys quality for Cisco to buy off the market. Linksys ownership for Cisco is completely pointless. Sadly, the Linksys brand value is pretty much evaporated for *anyone* over a decade of Cisco ownership.

Re:Cisco deserves to lose millions on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313943)

Likely the goal was to take one of the bigger companies in the soho/smb area and create an upgrade path, I assume.

Except instead of taking linksys's decent and price competitive products and continuing to compete in that market Cisco management went to town on it in what surely will be some case study in stupidity for a management class someday. They turned the linksys products to shit, making them feature poor even in the cheap soho/smb market. Then they stuck their enterprise brand on that complete shit they produced. They then marked them up so they weren't even competing price wise in that market and took advantage of the trust people had in the name. Then their "upgrade" path became, "ohh you know that complete shit we sold you that doesn't work like it should? yeah you needed to buy this enterprise hardware that was 10x more expensive to have that/those feature(s)."

So they took a pretty big shit on their own brand. If they are selling it off hopefully linksys goes back to making fairly good, fairly cheap hardware and whoever came up with that "strategy" in Cisco is working the mail-room now to never be trusted with another business decision.

Wait, did I miss something? (5, Informative)

JTD121 (950855) | about 2 years ago | (#42313171)

All the people here on /. should know that most recent-ish 'Linksys' gear is supported by aftermarket firmware; DD-WRT and Tomato among others. Granted, a lot of people might not know the difference, but they run much much better than the shit that ships on them.
Hell, I'm still using a WRT54G from forever ago, and it's been online almost constantly (barring my tweaking and futzing up the install occasionally) since mid-2005. No slow-downs, no hiccups (not counting misconfigurations), etc, etc. And this is old old MIPS with 16MB RAM, guys. You know in the newer (WRT120N was mentioned above) hardware should at the very least perform as well as previous products, if not better. But it doesn't. Flash your firmware, and see the difference. Seriously. I'm sure if they cam pre-installed with something like Tomato, out-of-the-box, Linksys wouldn't have this weird brand identity crisis. But of course, Cisco and open-source are at polar opposites of the world, it seems. Also, WTF Slashdot? It's 2012, please get a WYSIWYG editor, instead of arcane HTML formatting and such. Line breaks.

Re:Wait, did I miss something? (2)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 2 years ago | (#42313351)

Yeah, I've got two old reliable WRT54G's, comparitly sucky V8's no less. One of theem stopped working "right" about a year after purchase, replaced it with the other one which has never had problems. I eventually flashed the first one with DD-WRT which apparently fixed it and it now serves as a "bridge" I love those things.

I'd replace them with N gear, but when Cisco bought Linksys, they futzed up everything...the prices went up, the form factors changed, and even the model naming/numbering is different. They have multiple "consumer" routers, none of which were as cheap as the old ones. Back in the old days, you knew what to buy, In the B's it was the BEFW11S4, in the G's it was the WRT54. Needed a bridge? WET11, WET54. You didn't need to install software, or have any kind of "cloud" administration (which I only just heard of in this thread) you could just open your web browser to 192.168.1.1 and set the things up.

Re:Wait, did I miss something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313431)

I swore off Cisco/Linksys when I found they had removed the ability to use the AP as a wireless bridge. The capability was present in the Linksys-only versions, and obviously the hardware supported it after reflashing. They just took it out to try to upsell, the bastards.

Re:Wait, did I miss something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313973)

Problem being that as of the VxWorks change, Linksys wasn't the best bang for the buck anymore. Sure you can flash them with DD-WRT after they figured out how and get access to a more crippled set of resources than the predecessor, but non-linksys brands were selling products that were price-competitive with new WRT54Gs, but with the specifications of a pre-5.0 WRT54G.

Nowadays, getting a Linksys N router if you want third party firmware is silly. I picked up an ASUS device for my 802.11n upgrade and it's even better than the 'good old days' Linksys pre-Cisco didn't do anything to hinder *or* help third party firmware development, nowadays the big players actively provide assisstance to third party developers (supporting third-party firmware is a requirement for a non-trivial portion of the market segment).

Re:Wait, did I miss something? (2)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 2 years ago | (#42314145)

Wireless N seemed to have brought a whole class of shitty routers out of Linksys (and plenty of other manufactures too). Very odd to find the same model with a completely different type of chip inside that's not compatible with DD-WRT.

It's like Cisco spent $500M to get rid of a competitor, they just did it really slowly so no one else popped up right in their place.

God knows what's wrong (3, Funny)

Colourspace (563895) | about 2 years ago | (#42313217)

with my reading-fu, but I SWEAR I first parsed that as 'Cisco rumoured to be selling Kidneys'.. I mean, they really stooped low this time..

Re:God knows what's wrong (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 2 years ago | (#42313331)

That's silly. Cisco certainly has warehouses full of arms and legs, which is what they charge their enterprise customers, but kidneys? No.

Re:God knows what's wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42313343)

I read it the same, and despaired. My brain is going! Or eyes. Or something. Then I thought, "maybe I'm not alone" and typed "ctrl+f kidney." Lo and behold, I'm not alone. Thanks, fellow defective reader.

Quality vs Features (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 2 years ago | (#42313255)

I have the Linksys E3000 WiFi router and have not had any quality issues. Part of this may be because I refused to install the push-based firmware that caused issues for a lot of people.

I did notice a lot of features being dropped from the Linksys line once they became Cisco branded. One of the biggest examples was removing CLI from some of the higher-end Linksys switches. Of course, this was to prevent a loss of sales for Cisco's enterprise lineup. The result was that a lot of SMBs went with Netgear and D-Link.

Re:Quality vs Features (1)

C_Kode (102755) | about 2 years ago | (#42313399)

I have the Linksys E3000 WiFi router and have not had any quality issues. Part of this may be because I refused to install the push-based firmware that caused issues for a lot of people.

I did notice a lot of features being dropped from the Linksys line once they became Cisco branded. One of the biggest examples was removing CLI from some of the higher-end Linksys switches. Of course, this was to prevent a loss of sales for Cisco's enterprise lineup. The result was that a lot of SMBs went with Netgear and D-Link.

I have the E3000 also. The one thing I don't like about it is it runs very hot. I have to tilt it up on it's side to keep it cool. If I don't, I notice that my WiFi connections act flaky sometimes.

I used the base firmware for a long while, but finally switched to DD-WRT about a year and a half ago.

Cisco can't deal with acquisitions (2)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42313383)

I used to work for a company that was bought by Cisco: Tandberg.
They cancelled all the high-end Tandberg projects because they were in competition with the products they had developed internally, despite Tandberg's products being vastly superior.
Cisco's products are crap but they want to brand themselves as quality, and they want all their acquisitions to serve the low-end market.

As a result all of the founders and star employees left the company. Several of them used the money they got from the IPO to make new companies in the same sector.

Re:Cisco can't deal with acquisitions (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#42313671)

reel to reel tapes, THAT tandberg?

Re:Cisco can't deal with acquisitions (1)

jon3k (691256) | about 2 years ago | (#42314231)

Which Tanberg products were superior to the high-end telepresence? Honest question, I'm barely familiar with either of the product lines. I just know that the high-end Cisco telepresence endpoints can be up in the $200k/location range.

Re:Cisco can't deal with acquisitions (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42314697)

The high-end Tandberg telepresence endpoint is the T3. Picture below from 2008.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Tandberg_Image_Gallery_-_telepresence-t3-side-view-hires.jpg [wikimedia.org]

They sell the whole room, and I believe it is indeed in that price range, if not more.
I won't go into too much detail, but know that Tandberg had made some interesting innovations to make both its software and hardware quite better than the competition; supporting higher resolutions, at higher framerates, with better encoder/decoder quality, better interoperability, and better data loss tolerance. Tandberg contributes (contributed?) to the new h265 video standards, and worked on next-gen endpoints with Tilera many-core processors. They were, however, quite more expensive that the alternatives, in particular their rival Polycom (no one considered Cisco as a viable telepresence solution at the time).

Consumer profit margins (1)

C_Kode (102755) | about 2 years ago | (#42313385)

Cisco is used to fleecing companies just like Oracle does. Buying into consumer market will never get you those types of margins. (don't even bring up Apple, that fad is already on the down swing)

Even in the Enterprise world, there are good options opposite Cisco these days. I've replacement most of my Cisco equipment with Juniper and have been quite happy with them and in some cases far happier than I was with Cisco.

Re:Consumer profit margins (1)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about 2 years ago | (#42314169)

I don't think they wanted to become a consumer company. They just wanted to keep the low end products 'low' so they didn't compete with the enterprise offerings.

Monday moring shocker (2)

judoguy (534886) | about 2 years ago | (#42313863)

I'm apparently dyslexic. I was scanning the page and read "Cisco Rumored To Be Selling Kidneys".

I thought, "Man, they really are in trouble."

Possible expansion to brownware (1)

spectrokid (660550) | about 2 years ago | (#42313881)

I never understood why Linksys, DLink et al don't push hard into brownware. Imagine a Blue-Ray with buildt in DNLA and powered by POE. Only one cable, no separate power supply needed. DVB-T? Put a box in the attic and connect it wih a single ethernet cable. Make an amplifier with a POE switch up its ass, and a DNLA client. Could be the start of a very nice product line.

Re:Possible expansion to brownware (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#42314171)

For that to happen, one of two things would have to happen.

Either they completely rebuild PoE from the ground up to provide the ~25-30W that some of these home entertainment devices need, or they invent the fantasy cheeseburger-shitting unicorn that is a 13W bluray player with full networking and streaming functionality, HDMI, and all the other bells and whistles.

PoE was never designed to be a power source for anything other than low-power telecom equipment. It certainly was not designed for consumer equipment.

Brand value and Margins are gone (1)

perlith (1133671) | about 2 years ago | (#42313945)

Good discussion so far on how to erode brand value. I lost my preference for Linksys when their WRT54G models cut the amount of flash memory from 4MB to 2MB for no other reason than to improve margins. Now can't flash DD-WRT to the model. And, they tried to resell the 4MB flash memory models at a higher price as the "WRT54GL" model. Good job in destroying a loyal customer base.

Used to be if you wanted a reliable wireless router in your home, you paid an extra $10-$20 and got a Linksys. Belkin, NetGear, and most other brands used to crap, but now have caught up in terms of quality and kept their prices lower. That being said, the low margins I think are the other big reason Cisco is looking to drop Linksys. From TFA:

[The home-networking business] is a mature consumer business with low margins

The acquisition went perfectly. (3, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 2 years ago | (#42314027)

From reading people's stories, it sounds like Cisco succeeded in every way. Linksys' made high-end consumer grade networking equipment. Cisco made enterprise grade networking equipment. Linksys posed two risks to Cisco: One is that Linksys could move into Cisco's territory if they started making enterprise grade equipment. The other is that enterprise users might find that Linksys equipment would be good enough in some cases, eating into Cisco's sales.

Rather than risk that, Cisco bought Linksys and ran them into the ground to increase the size of the gap between their enterprise grade equipment and the nearest competitor. If they succeed in selling the company off, they not only succeeded but they recoup a part of their investment. And if Linksys' brand is soiled then even a good buyer with good management will be stuck.

It sounds like it was a good plan.

Re:The acquisition went perfectly. (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 2 years ago | (#42314763)

Bingo. Cisco could have poured $500 million down the drain just to shut Linksys down. But they'd have faced the possibility of the management and talent leaving en masse to form a new competitor, plus the costs of "regulatory capturing" the Gubmint TLAs to keep awkward competition questions at bay.

Instead they drained the life and spirit out of Linksys, the talent will have long since departed in a piecemeal fashion, and now they can safely render down the husk and sell it by the pound for kibbles and bits.

This is a lesson in embrace, extend (into the cloud) and extinguish.

Is Cisco interested in non-enterprise markets? (1)

swb (14022) | about 2 years ago | (#42314163)

It seemed like 10 years ago, Cisco gear was everywhere, even in small places -- because everyone had to have an access router and Cisco was a very common choice.

Once DSL and cable-based internet became common for business, Cisco started disappearing from those environments. Their PIX line had some penetration, but it was complicated to manage compared to a wide variety of web GUI devices and the support agreements were expensive.

In switching they seemed less prevalent until you got into organizations that needed L3 routing or extensive L2 management, but cost conscious organizations (common at the lower end) went with HP or other brands with similar features and cheaper support.

When they bought Linksys, I assumed it was to create an "entry level" brand with light feature sets or limited expandability to win business at the level that outright won't even look at Cisco due to perceived complexity and cost relative to competition from HP, Netgear, DLink, Dell's PowerConnect line, etc. In many cases those products aren't cheap but cheaper in terms of support and feature wise very deep.

It seems like this wasn't the strategy at all, just a "steering" brand to capture some of the low end market from a revenue perspective and try to convert these users into Cisco users. Apparently they've given up on this market.

I'm Excited (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42314789)

Maybe they will go back to producing equipment that doesn't suck.

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