Windows 2000 users face support cost hike

Business users across the Middle East could be hit by higher IT support costs than ever before, due to Microsoft’s Windows 2000 reaching the end of its normal support life this month. Firms that want to continue using the OS will now have make the switch to paid-for support, according to the software giant.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  June 26, 2005

Business users across the Middle East could be hit by higher IT support costs than ever before, due to Microsoft’s Windows 2000 reaching the end of its normal support life this month. Firms that want to continue using the OS will now have make the switch to paid-for support, according to the software giant. This issue could impact thousands of businesses across the region, with a recent ITP.net survey finding that nearly two-thirds of the site’s users still have Windows 2000-based systems in their organisation. Nearly half in fact still regard 2000 as a major platform. Although support will be more costly in the future, Microsoft has said the switch won’t impact platform security, 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 tricky 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 their software moves to be dictated by Microsoft’s program release 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. In terms of the patches and updates you can still expect for Windows 2000, last year Microsoft decided not to provide a fifth service pack for the aging OS. Instead it has promised a one-off update, dubbed Update Rollup, which it is promising to release in the middle of this year. El-Kik said Microsoft was still committed to this time frame, which would suggest the Rollup is due shortly, although he couldn’t 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 earlier advisory.

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