Microsoft pulls plug on Win2000 support

Businesses across the Middle East face higher IT support costs, as Windows 2000 reaches the end of its normal support life this month. Companies that want to continue using the OS will have to switch to paid-for support, Microsoft said last week.

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By  Peter Branton Published  June 26, 2005

Businesses across the Middle East face higher IT support costs, as Windows 2000 reaches the end of its normal support life this month. Companies that want to continue using the OS will have to switch to paid-for support, Microsoft said last week. This is likely to impact thousands of businesses across the region, with an ITP.net survey showing that nearly two-thirds of users still have Windows 2000-based systems in their organisation, with nearly half still using it as a major platform. However, Microsoft also said the switch won’t have an impact on security issues, as critical patches for security flaws will still be available. “Security hub fixes will still be free for the next five years,” confirmed Bahaa Issa, corporate communications manager, Microsoft Gulf. Windows 2000 has reached the end of its mainstream support life: from next month support issues for non-security matters will be handled on a paid-for basis only. “Windows 2000 support is not going away, customers will have multiple options,” said Rani El- Kik, product marketing manager, Microsoft South Gulf. For customers that do not want to upgrade to Windows 2003, they will be able to receive support from Microsoft or its partners, he said – for a cost. For Microsoft, support for older versions of its operating systems is a thorny issue. While it naturally wants to get users to upgrade to its newer software it also doesn’t want to be seen to be abandoning users, many of whom don’t want to move according to its schedules. A survey on ITP.net, the web site for ITP, found that 48% of users still see Windows 2000 as a major platform with another 17% still using it within their organisation. This tallies with a survey conducted in North America by research firm AssetMetrix, which found that 48% of organisations are still using Windows 2000. “Our objective is to make it as easy as possible to gradually migrate to Windows 2003, so some users will still have Windows 2000 in their organisations,” said El-Kik. According to Microsoft’s own estimates regional usage of Windows 2000 is around 35-38% of its installed base for servers, slightly lower for the desktops. Last year Microsoft decided not to provide a fifth service pack for Windows 2000, instead it has promised to release a one-off update for the OS, dubbed Update Rollup, which it is promising to release in the middle of this year (see IT Weekly, 12-18 March 2005). El-Kik said it was still committed to this time frame, which would suggest it is due imminently, although he could not provide a date. Research firm Gartner Group has urged Windows 2000 users to update to Service Pack 4 as quickly as possible to ensure they still receive support. “Remember that the first rollup pack for Windows 2000 will require that SP4 be in place,” it said in an advisory earlier this year.

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