Support Ends for Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

The extended support phase for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT 4.0 Workstation operating system ended last week as expected. So corporate users in need of assistance will now have to rely on the company's self-help online option or seek a custom contract with Microsoft or an outside company.

What Microsoft refers to as "mainstream" support ended a year ago for NT 4.0 Workstation. Mainstream support includes no-charge incident support, warranty claims, hot fixes, paid incident support, support based on an hourly fee, and security patches.

Extended support essentially includes the paid options, with the exception of security-related hot fixes, which are still free during that phase. A hot fix is a modification to commercial product code to address a specific problem.

Microsoft last October announced a "support life-cycle" policy calling for most products to have mainstream support for five years, followed by two years of extended support. Self-help online support runs for at least eight years.

In January, Microsoft extended through Dec. 31, 2004, pay-per-incident and security support for NT 4.0 Server—which, like NT 4.0 Workstation, was released July 29, 1996. Nonsecurity hot fixes are available with a custom contract until the end of this year.

Still Widespread

Mike Silver, an analyst at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc., said Microsoft also should have extended support for NT 4.0 Workstation.

He said a survey conducted last fall at a U.S.-based Gartner conference showed that 35.4% of the respondents' 850,000 desktops still ran NT Workstation. At a European conference, the percentage was higher, with 57% of 505,000 desktops on NT.

"Every organization needs to come to its own terms about how big an exposure that is," he said.

No-charge assisted support and extended hot-fix support for Windows 98 also ended last week, but Microsoft will provide paid support through Jan. 16, 2004.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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