PS/2, VGA, Serial Port, Parallel Port... why aren't these dead?
I was shopping around for a motherboard for a new special-purpose PC. I was looking for something like a Via Nano or an Intel ATOM. Small, light, cheap, modern.
Every single motherboard I could find for these devices still has PS/2 ports. Seriously, why? Who on this earth buys brand-spanking-new specialized mini-itx computers and tries to hook them up with 10 year old keyboards and mice (that could be replaced with new USB equivalents for 1/20th the cost of the computer itself) ?
Every single motherboard included a VGA port, and only a few had DVI. Not one of the Nano/ATOM motherboards I found had HDMI or DisplayPort. I think one had S-Video. I can understand if they only had DVI -- that's the current most popular standard for regular computer monitors. But VGA? I can't even run my monitor's native resolution on VGA! Useless.
A serial port I can almost understand. Almost. They're really easy to write custom hardware/drivers for, so a lot of hobbyist equipment probably uses them. Still, for a regular consumer setup, I can't possibly imagine needing a serial port. Ever.
Now, the parallel port... I almost choked when I saw that. A brand new motherboard, made in 2008, for a CPU literally just released... has a parallel port on it? Seriously? Is it April?
I don't get it. Why does just about every single last motherboard ship with PS/2 ports? I think I've seen a few Intel "legacy-free" mobos that ship without those... but they have VGA ports or something equally silly.
Why do hardware manufacturers continue to waste space and circuitry on ports that stopped being used by the majority of users many years ago? Why do so many motherboards still include onboard video with only a VGA connector? What freakin' idiot thought it would be useful to put a parallel port connector on a motherboard in 2008?
These ports were designed to be used with older hardware. They probably require very little circuitry by today's standards, and no or fewer dues or licensing costs to pay to standards organizations or patent/trademark owners.
It may be that the actual space taken by the port itself is the only serious cost of including older ports. Whereas new ports might require something to be licensed and more circuitry.
As a consumer who literally cannot use those ports at all, what would be a reason why I should care about the cost of using newer ports? A $10 more expensive board is infinitely more valuable to me than a $10 cheaper board I can't use because it doesn't hook up to the monitor I bought.
I bet if they got rid of that parallel port they could put in a DVI _and_ HDMI port, and I'd gladly pay a premium for it. They have to actually make it before I can toss them the cash, though.
All of the things you list could be useful for point-of-sale terminals. Many LCD monitors (especially the cheapest ones) don't have DVI, many barcode scanners and credit card readers emulate PS/2 keyboards, and many receipt printers interface with a serial port.
I'm using a recent Dell PC at home over dial-up and a serial port would really help with hooking up a Linux-friendly modem so I could stop having to run Vista at home. I'm playing with a LAN-attached modem but unfortunately the built-in modem can't hold a connection reliably over our crappy rural phone lines.