Microsoft's NT4 move leaves users unfazed

Local users and analysts voiced no concerns yesterday about Microsoft's decision to phase out support for Windows NT Server 4.0 OS.

After five years on the market the Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 family of operating systems will be retired in 12-month incremental phases starting January 1, 2003. From that date, customers will have to pay a fee for Quick Fix Engineering. A year later hot fixes, premier and pay-per-incident support will no longer be available. And, after another 12 months, online support will be dropped, although historical records will be available.

Adam Cogan, president of Microsoft Access/SQL Server/ASP.Net Users Group, said the support discontinuance timetable should give users adequate time.

"I think [Microsoft has] to make the user base move forward. It's three generations and a five-year-old OS. People have had enough time," Cogan said.

"There's no reason most companies shouldn't be moving to 2000, which is a more stable OS," he said. "If [Microsoft] is not proactive in moving customers to a better OS, then it's a bigger overall issue for developers working on products with a backwards compatibility."

Calum Russell, product marketing manager for Microsoft Australia, said, "If companies were running on Windows NT in 2004, then I'd really be questioning their technology implementation process. It would be the equivalent of still running on 286 today and you wouldn't be delivering on any front."

"You've got to remember that by 2004, .Net will have been on the market for two and a half years," he added.

Gartner senior industry analyst Matthew Boon said Microsoft's support discontinuance was a normal transition timeline.

"By 2004, when the bulk of the support will be gone, I expect most customers will have upgraded during normal life cycle anyway," Boon said.

According to Gartner, Windows NT Server 4.0 accounted for 75 per cent of server shipments in 2000, so there is a large installed base from a volume perspective affected by this announcement.

Russell quelled fears about the abandonment of online support, saying patches, if any were necessary by then, would still be made available after January 1, 2005.

The knowledge base, such as historical documents to support NT, would be available also, but Microsoft will no longer interact and respond to online queries after that date.

Windows .Net Server, the successor to Windows 2000 server, is due to ship in the first half of 2002.

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