Lost in the euphoria of Microsoft's announcement last week about its new 10-year support policy for business and developer software products was the implicit understanding that some products won't be included in the new plan. This week, Microsoft clarified its new support scheme, spelling out exactly which products will and won't be covered. Windows NT 4.0 and Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 users, in particular, will be disappointed.
  
"Microsoft advises customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, and service packs to remain as secure as possible," a note on the company's Web site states. "Older products, such as Windows NT 4.0, may not meet today’s more demanding security requirements. It may not be possible for Microsoft to provide security updates for older products."
  
For many IT administrators and decisions makers, news that an 8-year-old product won't be included in Microsoft's 10-year support policy might come as somewhat of a shock, although the company has been backing away from NT 4.0 support for some time. According to Microsoft representatives, however, because both products were already in their extended support phase when Microsoft changed the policy, they won't be grandfathered in to the new policy. Only products still in the mainstream support phase, such as Windows 2000, will be included in the new 10-year support plan. So the new support policy will cover only products released in the last 5 years, or since June 1, 1999.
  
Despite twice backing away from earlier attempts to end support for NT 4.0, Microsoft probably won't retreat again. From an architectural standpoint, NT 4.0 is obsolete and has been superseded by two major Windows Server releases that offer significant security benefits over NT 4.0. And users who are stuck with numerous NT 4.0 single-use servers can always upgrade to virtual-machine environments with products such as Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 or VMware. For more information about the new product-support policy, visit the Microsoft Web site.

Lost in the euphoria over last week's Microsoft announcement about its new ten-year support policy for its business and developer software products was the implicit understanding that some products wouldn't be included in the new plan. This week, Microsoft clarified its new support scheme, spelling out exactly which products will, and will not be covered. Windows NT 4.0 and Exchange 5.5 users, in particular, will be disappointed.

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"Microsoft advises customers to install the latest product releases, security updates, and service packs to remain as secure as possible," a note on the company's Web site reads. "Older products, such as Windows NT 4.0, may not meet today’s more demanding security requirements. It may not be possible for Microsoft to provide security updates for older products."

 

For many IT administrators and decisions makers, news that an 8-year-old product won't be included in Microsoft's 10 year support policy may come as somewhat of a shock, though the company was arguably walking away from NT 4 support for some time. According to representatives from Microsoft, however, because both products were already in their extended support phase when Microsoft changed the policy, they will not be grandfathered in. Only products still in the mainstream support phase, like Windows 2000, will be included in the new ten-year support plan. That means that only products released in the last five years, or since June 1, 1999, will be covered by the new support policy.

 

Despite backing off of previous attempts to end support for Windows NT 4.0 twice, don't expect Microsoft to retreat once more. From an architectural standpoint, NT 4 is obsolete, and has been superseded by two major releases of Windows Server that offer significant security benefits over NT 4. And users stuck with numerous NT 4.0 single-use servers can always upgrade to virtual machine environments with products such as Virtual PC or VMWare. For more information about the new product support policy, please visit the Microsoft Web site.