Microsoft has announced the retirement plans for Windows NT 4.0. The five year-old operating system is being put out to pasture in phases beginning in July 2002 when it will no longer be available directly or through resellers.
July 2003 will see its availability via the system builder channel cease. All standard support services will be phased out from January 2003 through to January 2005.
"About 80 per cent of our [Windows NT 4.0] customers have completely moved or are currently migrating to Windows 2000 and above," said Tony Fisher, general manager at reseller Deverill, a Microsoft solution partner. "The phasing out of support is workable and I do not think any of the users will be worried because it is meat and drink for IT departments nowadays."
He added that some businesses will continue to use the retired system because it suits their business needs. "Many of our small businesses will keep NT 4.0 and not feel the need to upgrade because it is sometimes application driven," he explained.
"Those that have not migrated are on a holding pattern and waiting for specific business applications to be developed for Windows 2000 and XP. Windows 2000 is more suited to the corporate environment and is more reliable," he said.
But James Governor, an analyst at Illuminata, suggested that changing server operating systems is bad for users because of skills and database issues. "There are still a lot of users out there that want security. Server operating systems don't die, they just go into maintenance mode," he said.
Mark Tennant, product manager for windows servers at Microsoft, said it was a natural progression to end sales and support.
"The decision to phase out the operating system was made because we were selling more copies of Windows 2000," he explained. "One million copies of Windows 2000 were sold after one year of its release compared to a period of 18 months for NT 4.0."
Tennant added that the company wanted to focus all its efforts on the newer operating systems.
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