MS increases push off NT 4.0

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Microsoft has ramped up its marketing push to customers still using Windows NT Server 4.0, announcing a telesales 'call-down' to NT 4.0 users from mid to late July.

Michelle Reid, a partner account manager at Microsoft, told a recent partner briefing in Sydney that Microsoft was starting to call NT 4.0 customers to “educate” them about the advantages of moving to Windows Server 2003.

“From mid to late July, there will be a telesales call-down to NT 4.0 customers to invite them to Windows Server sessions around Australia,” Reid said.

Microsoft sales staff were encouraged to develop a Windows Server business case for NT 4.0 customers that would “do more with less” and justify the upgrade cost to those customers.

It has been reported that Microsoft fears increased competition from Linux-based servers, especially for those customers still on NT 4.0. Marketing materials sent out to Australian partners this month include a CD aimed at teaching partners how to compete with Linux.

The CD suggests answers to questions and claims by customers that Windows is, for example, less secure and more expensive than Linux.

“Microsoft is facing significant competition from Linux in every segment of business, especially SMB customers...Upgrading from the Windows NT 4.0 install base is essential to competing with Linux in all of these areas,” the CD reads.

Meanwhile, Alison Dodd, director of commercial business at Microsoft in Australia, said Microsoft had been communicating “the benefits of the latest server operating system” with customers via account managers and marketing materials since the launch of Windows Server 2003 earlier this year.

“At various times...we may run a server-focused campaign where we offer customers some additional tools and resources,” Dodd said.

According to Dodd, customers who kept NT 4.0 would suffer reduced security, manageability, reliability, scalability and productivity.

“NT Server 4.0...is far more vulnerable to attacks. It can be secured and patched but that process is people-intensive and difficult. Windows Server 2003 is secure by default and has technologies built in to make it easier to secure,” she said.

Dodd said NT 4.0 also was “not as reliable”, needing more down-time and more administrators per server than Windows Server 2003. Taking advantage of web services and technologies such as Active Directory would be “more difficult” with NT 4.0, she said.

“Support for Windows NT Server 4.0 will remain unchanged until January 2004 when non-security hot fixes will no longer be available. From January 2005 pay-per-incident, Premier and online support will no longer be provided,” Dodd said.

NT 4.0 security patches and “hot fixes” for network administrators would be available until 31 December next year, she added.

Dodd estimated that less than 40 percent of Windows servers are still running NT 4.0.

“Many [customers] are simply happy with the way it is running while others may have old hardware or custom-built legacy applications that only run on NT 4.0,” she said. “It's great that this product has had such longevity, but ... the way most businesses use the internet is vastly different now, with different threats and opportunities.”

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