At the stroke of midnight on 31 December 2004, official support for the popular NT Server operating system finally ended. Well, almost.
Despites its best efforts, software giant Microsoft has found it tough to persuade customers to move off the NT Server platform. Customers like the stable platform; skills on NT technologies are widely available and inexpensive.
But anyone continuing to run the operating system will have to sign a custom support deal for protection. It will no longer guarantee free fixes.
Back in November 2004, a quick show of hands at analyst group Gartner's European Symposium showed that roughly a quarter of attendees were still running NT Server, and intended to continue doing so after Microsoft's end-of-year deadline. "That's roughly the sort of numbers we'd expect. And it leaves them in an interesting position: do you pay for the extended support or risk running it unsupported?" says Tom Bittman, an analyst at Gartner.
Microsoft has offered to provide two years additional support for those still running NT Server – but at a price. These very contracts hamper its ability to offer much extra support for free for fear of upsetting paying customers, although it has promised to make fixes available for the most serious vulnerabilities.
The custom support looks expensive, says Bittman. "One solution is to continue running NT Server, but on boxes protected from the Internet." So Microsoft could yet find that even after the 1 January 2007 deadline for its custom support, NT Server lives on.