July 2003: End of Line for Windows NT
Windows NT, one of the most important products in Microsoft’s 25-year history, will be officially laid to rest July 1, 2003.
Windows NT Server
4.0, both the Standard and Enterprise editions, will be gradually phased
out over a two-year period.
As of July 1, 2002, both editions of NT Server will be taken out of both
the reselling and OEM channels. Exactly a year later, the product won’t
be available through the System Builder channel.
At the same time, product support will begin dying out. Commencing Jan.
1, 2003, customers will start being charged for hotfixes. On Jan. 1, 2004,
pay-per-incident and premier support are gone, as are hotfix updates.
On Jan. 1, 2005, online support won’t be offered any more, effectively
cutting off all Microsoft-related support at that point.
Microsoft noted that it will continue to offer security updates free
of charge. The latest announcement follows on the heels of last October’s
decision by Redmond to stop offering volume licensing for NT 4.0, as reported
in the December issue.
NT 4.0 had a long run, having made its debut in September 1996. The networking
OS faced much skepticism at first, as it replaced the bug-ridden NT 3.51.
At that time, Microsoft was still thought of primarily as a desktop OS
developer. But it gradually made its way into the business world, cutting
into sales of other network OSs from Novell and Sun. The revenue generated
by sales of NT and subsequent OSs has helped offset slowed sales of Microsoft
Office and Windows 9x as the market became saturated, and kept Microsoft
at the forefront of software companies.
Since the release of Windows 2000 in February 2000, NT 4.0 has become
less and less important, although it’s still in use in many shops worldwide.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.