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If NT is truly headed for IT oblivion, what's the next step for the Windows enterprise? Read Mark Minasi's answers...

to member questions on third-party support, licensing and feature bloat leftover from his webcast, NT 4.0 -- Hold 'em or fold 'em? To download Minasi's PowerPoint presentation, click here. I'm upgrading a two-server network from NT 4.0; should I go to Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003? Which is the more secure choice? Is Server 2003 ready for business?
Mark Minasi: Assuming that there are no in-house tools that are incompatible with 2003, I'd use that. Is there any hope that Microsoft will sell support rights for NT to another company to offer support/patches and bug fixes?
Mark Minasi: Not that I've heard of -- but you never know. What advantage do you see in Microsoft's Software Assurance for a business with under 40 users?
Mark Minasi: No magic, really. If you think you'd like to be able to upgrade "at will" then Licensing 6.0's for you. If not then don't. I upgrade because I'm a geek. If I ran an upholstery shop I don't know that I would do that. How do you ghost a machine that has the system partition on a RAID array?
Mark Minasi: I've never tried, sorry. If it's hardware RAID I'd guess that Ghost wouldn't know the difference. Microsoft keeps making Win2k faster and more efficient, but it still won't run on my circa 1998 hardware. Is it feature bloat?
Mark Minasi: Probably drivers. And RAM. Do you think Microsoft realizes that when I move to new hardware, in order to upgrade primary servers to a newer NT family OS, that the old servers become the happy home of Linux?
Mark Minasi: For most people it doesn't. Linux is powerful, but has a steep learning curve! Is the upgrade from Win 2000 Server to Win 2003 a major deal such as Win NT Server to Win 2000 Server?
Mark Minasi: No, it's more of a 1.0 to 1.1. Relatively how easy is the upgrade from NT to W2k3 Server?
Mark Minasi: Depends on what you do with those servers. I don't mean to duck the question, but upgrade/migration is a HUGE topic. Do you have to buy all new user Client Access Licenses (CAL) if you upgrade to W2k3 Server?
Mark Minasi: Yes, but you've already paid for them if you're in Licensing 6.0. Microsoft told me that they would no longer distribute workstation patches. They claimed that those patches beyond the end of life (MS03-026 and MS03-039) were previously in development and no more will be released. The server patches so far do not work, is this true?
Mark Minasi: I thought that they did, but I have not done extensive research. Do you recommend testing all the security updates before implementing them or do you recommend SUS or SMS to deploy patches automatically?
Mark Minasi: It depends. If it were a high-priority patch, like MS03-026, then I'd say implement it immediately. Otherwise you can test it first. Read the associated Knowledge Base articles and use that information to assess the risks, and then make your decision. There are several third-party security patch management tools available in the marketplace. Which do you recommend? Shouldn't Microsoft release a free fully functional tool that automates patch-management?
Mark Minasi: I like SUS pretty well and use that so I'm not an expert on the other tools. Yes, I agree, MS needs to offer a better patch tool -- we need to be able to incorporate patches into i386 processors, etc. I've got several NT4 machines that need to be upgraded. Should I assume that my upgrade path would be easier if I upgrade to 2000 or should I jump right to 2003?
Mark Minasi: Assuming that there are no in-house tools that are incompatible with 2003, I'd use that. Is there a good site for planning to move to Active Directory??
Mark Minasi: Microsoft has a lot of info on their site. So does Windows and .NET Magazine. In addition, there's's Active Directory Learning Guide. Should we be avoiding dependency on a single company such as Microsoft?
Mark Minasi: Sure, but how much choice do we have? Stitching together an answer out of several vendors often has a price -- compatibility. There's no easy choice.

Back to part 1: Mark Minasi Q&A: NT 4.0 -- Hold 'em or fold 'em? Mark answers questions on security, patch management, migration strategies and more.


Mark Minasi is a best-selling author, popular technology columnist, commentator and keynote speaker. Mark is probably best known for his books Mastering Windows NT Server, Mastering Windows 2000 Server and The Complete PC Upgrade and Maintenance Guide. Mark has also authored 17 other technology books, spoken on technical topics in 20 countries, and written and performed in a dozen technical education videos.

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