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2003 Server Mystery

Microsoft is encouraging customers to migrate to Windows Server 2003, but it's not clear why they should, and Microsoft isn't helping them build a business case to do so. There doesn't appear to be much payoff when you consider the cost of purchasing, migrating and testing. The payoff was much clearer in the move from Windows NT 4.0 to Windows 2000, a wholesale upgrade that not only vastly improved stability but also offered better driver support and plug-and-play capabilities.

Microsoft has done very little to help customers understand why Server 2003 is necessary, or even just a good idea. Citing the new OS's "increased reliability" doesn't cut it. Some 10 percent of respondents to a recent Yankee Group survey say they won't move to Server 2003 because they're moving to Linux. At least they can cite a reduction in licensing costs. The few (20 percent) who say they plan to upgrade to Server 2003 this year couldn't cite anything more than "Microsoft wants us to." The same goes for the 34 percent who plan to adopt Server 2003 down the road.

Microsoft needs to make a clearer case. Businesses are no longer willing to upgrade just because they can.

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