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NT's Retirement Opens Windows For Linux

Friday's demise of general support for Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 may give alternate operating systems, such as Linux, a temporary opportunity.

Friday's demise of general support for Microsoft's Windows NT 4.0 may give alternate operating systems, such as Linux, a temporary opportunity.

Although Microsoft extended Windows NT 4.0 support an additional year to, as the Redmond, Wash.-based developer says on its NT support site, "assist customers upgrading from Windows NT Server 4.0 to the Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 families," the 12 months of grace haven't paid off, according to Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox.

"Just as many U.S. big businesses run Windows NT Server 4 today as they did 10 months ago," wrote Wilcox in a blogged briefing on the aged operating system, citing data recently collected by Jupiter.

While some companies may be running fewer NT Server 4.0 installations now than at the beginning of 2004 -- consolidating several NT servers to one running Microsoft Server 2003 is not uncommon -- there's not been a rush to move up to Windows Server 2003, something Microsoft's been counting on, and pushing. That's left a window of opportunity for other OSes to steal some of Microsoft's business. And that window may grow larger, not smaller.

"The older those [NT 4] servers get, the greater risk of migration to an operating system other than Windows Server 2003," Wilcox wrote. "The install[ed] base of Windows NT Server 4 systems [is] an opportunity for Linux vendors, even Apple with Mac OS X Server," he said.

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