WinInfo Daily UPDATE, June 22, 2004

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In the News

- Microsoft Extends Support for NT 4.0 ... Sort Of
- France Challenges Microsoft with Open-Source Competition

==== In the News ====

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Extends Support for NT 4.0 ... Sort Of

This week, Microsoft quietly extended support for Windows NT 4.0, the third time in recent years that the software giant has reneged on a promise to cease support for the aging enterprise system. NT 4.0 was first released in 1996; two major OS releases followed NT 4.0 on the server side alone--Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003--and support for the product was most recently slated to end after December 2004. This recent extension is a bit stricter than earlier extensions, however. Instead of continuing the amount of time that the company will support NT 4.0, Microsoft will instead offer customers a discount on paid extended support and only under certain conditions.
Those conditions include a requirement that customers give Microsoft a time line and plan for moving from NT 4.0 to a newer platform. And the company isn't yet publicly commenting about the nature of the discount it will provide.
Last month, Microsoft formally extended its business and developer product support life cycle to 10 years, although the extension included only supported mainline products. Because NT 4.0 and other products such as Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 no longer were receiving mainline support, Microsoft didn't extend support for those products at that time.

France Challenges Microsoft with Open-Source Competition

The French government announced this week that it will give "alternative" and open-source software (OSS) companies a chance to win business from Microsoft as the country attempts to cut software prices and offset a mounting deficit. French representatives say that the move isn't an attempt to punish Microsoft or American companies; rather, France just wants to move away from one supplier of state software.
"We are not starting a war against Microsoft or against American companies in the software sector," Renaud Dutreil, minister for civil service, said. "\[But Microsoft\] must return to being one supplier to the state among others. The competition is open. My estimate is that we can cut the state software bill at least in half."
The plan includes both office-productivity suites and operating platforms such as Windows. Contracts for those types of software are estimated to be worth more than $360 million each. The software will be rolled out over 3 years. OSS solutions such as Linux and OpenOffice.org are definitely a possibility, Dutreil said, noting that such software is "very credible."
Microsoft will fight the migration, according to Christophe Aulnette, managing director of Microsoft France. "\[OSS\] is not free," he said. "It is very expensive because it shifts the cost to maintenance, services, integration, and training."

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