NT users bite the upgrade bullet

Von Siobhan McBride

With support for Window"s NT 4.0 servers ending on December 31 2004, Microsoft Corp."s offer of a flat fee for a two-year custom support program has failed to win over Australian IT managers.

It appears users would rather upgrade -- albeit in their own time -- and take their chances.

Inchcape shipping services IT manager Neil Thomas claims his company isn"t interested in the custom support program, regardless of whether it upgraded or not, as it "hasn"t used Microsoft support in years".

"We have a plan to replace our NT server in the next few months. People have to think very hard at the moment about what action they"re going to take," Thomas said. "Anyway, any server that needs maintenance should either be upgraded or planned to be upgraded in the near future," Thomas added.

Thomas predicts that despite Microsoft"s deadline, many enterprises will continue without upgrades or considering paying for support.

"But a reasonable proportion will have already planned to upgrade, just like ourselves," Thomas said.

Pickles Group technical development manager, Ian Hudson, said his organization was also upgrading its NT server and would not purchase legacy support.

Ausco Building Systems business systems manager Ian Mascord is also migrating his NT servers, claiming it was a better choice.

"We found it was better to use our funds towards upgrading than towards a custom support program," Mascord said. "The end of support meant a flag for us to upgrade."

Mascord said Ausco is in the midst of its server upgrade now, expecting it to be a four- to five-month process. "We"re doing it internally, with a few consultants being called in to help us in expert area.

"I think most people would have prepared for the deadline, to push on regardless would be foolish," Mascord said.

Peter James, University of Technology Sydney (UTS) director of IT infrastructure and operations, said while he still has NT installations for non-critical applications, the end of free support has no great impact.

"We"re not too perturbed. It"s not a serious issue for us. If we ever needed support, Microsoft would help us," James said, adding that a call to Microsoft elucidated that the need for a separate contract was unlikely. "We only look at costs and migrating off Windows is expensive, [because] we"re driven by applications," he said.

James said an increase in support fees for NT would be a catalyst to migrate, as the university had "no intention to keep NT running".

"The only thing that keeps us on NT is application support, as Windows 2000 is more reliable," he said.

Microsoft Windows Server product manager, David Allinson, said the vendor had "tried very hard to keep people up to speed with what is happening", adding that Microsoft had sought feedback on migration issues and the difficulties users were facing.

"We hope customers have been able to plan and do things in their own timeframes ... especially with applications and what issues they will face," Allinson said.