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Microsoft Sets Terms For Windows NT Custom Support

Microsoft on Tuesday clarified a product-support announcement released a day earlier that seemed to suggest the company would extend the approaching support deadlines for Windows NT 4.0. Microsoft officials say there is no change in how long the company will support Windows NT 4.0 systems. Rather, it has committed to standard pricing and other terms under which customers can get custom support for the operating system.

Free support is scheduled to expire June 30 for Windows NT 4.0 Workstation and Dec. 31 for Windows NT 4.0 Server. On Monday, Microsoft and BITS, a consortium of financial companies, revealed they had agreed on parameters for "specialized" NT 4.0 support "for an extended period."

But Peter Houston, Microsoft's senior director of servicing strategy, says the announcement did not involve a change in strategy. Instead, Microsoft has set the pricing of NT 4.0 custom support contracts through 2006 for companies that qualify. However, Houston declined to say how much custom support will cost.

In May, Microsoft said it was extending its product support life-cycle policy for business and developer products from five years of standard support and two years of extended (i.e., fee-based) support to five and five--a minimum of 10 years of product support. Among the products covered were Windows 2000, Windows XP, and SQL Server 2000. The policy excluded Windows NT 4.0.

BITS, a technology committee representing 100 of the top financial institutions in the country, has been working with Microsoft for the past six months to improve software security, including making the patch-management process more efficient and less costly. Since 1998, the financial-services and other industries that are deemed part of the nation's critical infrastructure have been working with government and private technology companies to secure the nation against cyberterrorism.