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Late to migrate? MS offers free tool

Microsoft is offering a free migration tool for the last of the NT 4.0 holdouts, but some customers say the gesture is too little too late.

For the last stragglers who still haven't moved off of NT 4.0 and onto Windows 2000 or 2003, or Windows Storage Server 2003, Microsoft finally has something for you.

The company this week released the File Server Migration Toolkit, a free download that is aimed at small- and medium-sized business customers who may not be able to afford a full-featured migration software package.

The software has two parts; a file migration wizard and a DFS [distributed file system] consolidation root wizard, said Radhesh Balakrishnan, a technical product manager at Microsoft. There are bits and pieces of tools available to these customers today but none for free, Balakrishnam said.

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For some customers, the free migration tool comes too late. "It's a great idea, but it's late in the game," said John McNeilly, a network administrator at Dermody Truck Sales, Grand Rapids, Mich. "They scared us into changing platforms. They said they were dropping support. So we had to [migrate] the hard way."

NT 4.0 will lose all support at the end of this calendar year, Microsoft has said. Windows Server 2000 support will start phasing out in 2005. Balakrishnam said that depending on the geographic location, NT 4.0 is installed on anywhere from 10% of servers to 30% of servers.

William Hurley, an analyst at Enterprise Application Group, Milford, Mass., said that the tool will be useful for customers who want to create a common DFS root and honor universal naming conventions.

"The migration tool gives you reports from source to target," Hurley said. "From a planning perspective, you can create common roots for things you can consolidate."

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