Microsoft is extending support of NT4 Server for an additional year due to customer demand.
Customers with NT4 Server will now receive support on the product until 31 December 2004, as well as free security patches.
Lars Ahlgren, senior marketing manager for support at Microsoft, told vnunet.com that the company's decision had been driven by both customer and channel demand.
"It's not that customers aren't buying new technologies, but switching from one platform to another is something that very often involves applications or solutions so it's not just a Microsoft issue," he said.
"The reality is that customers view IT solutions as any other investment. When times are tough, they scrutinise all their investments."
Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research, said the announcement was good news for customers. "This is an indication of an acceptance by Microsoft that technology doesn't get replaced quickly these days. For servers, six years isn't unfeasible.
"This is also an indication of the maturity of IT and shows that the technology lasts longer. New server technologies will be attractive to some companies, for example because of manageability features, but the days when every major company migrated en masse to a new platform are over."
But cost of ownership benefits, extra security features and the fact that newer Microsoft server technologies are part of the .Net infrastructure might still encourage some companies to migrate, especially those keen to exploit web services, Lock added.
"A big infrastructure takes time and money to change. But Microsoft withdrawing official support would not be a big enough reason for most companies to upgrade," he said.
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