Microsoft's plans for migrating users from older operating systems have come under fire again, with customers expressing confusion over its ever-changing roadmap.
Users were happy to continue using the NT4 operating system, but are being forced to migrate, according to David Roberts, chief executive of blue chip IT user group The Corporate IT Forum.
"The enormous pressure users face to reduce the cost of computing is worsened by the lack of clarity over the timing and content of future releases," he said.
It emerged this week that the next 'major' version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn, will be a client-only version.
"There will not be a server version," said Mark Tennant, Windows server product manager at Microsoft UK. "Feedback from customers indicated that it was not needed."
But while fewer releases will help users plan future migrations, Roberts suggested that many are being forced away from operating systems with which they are perfectly satisfied.
"Many want to keep NT4. They have invested in getting it to work, and now they want to get some value out of it. They are being forced to upgrade," he said.
Microsoft is phasing out its support for Windows NT starting in January 2003, full details of which can be seen here.
Rumours have circulated for some months that the software giant was considering a 'minor' Windows release, much like it did with Windows 98 Second Edition.
And last month, Giga Group analyst Rob Enderle said that Microsoft may have to consider releasing an XP version two in order to appease customers expecting upgrades as part of the new licensing terms.
Tennant refused to be drawn on whether Microsoft would consider a minor release, instead sticking to the official line that the next release, following .Net Server, would be Longhorn.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told delegates on Sunday at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas that the delayed Windows .Net Server would be available from April 2003.
Originally due for a mid-2002 release, it was then pencilled to ship before the end of 2002. No explanation was given for the delay.
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