IT administrators who thought they could eke out more free support for NT 4.0 by running it on Virtual Server 2005 will get exactly the same amount of free support as the financial companies who are members of BITS: zilch.
Microsoft caused a minor flurry of interest last week when it said it would offer some additional support for Windows NT 4.0 through a partnership with BITS, a Washington-based
But Microsoft reiterated that free support would end on June 30 for Windows NT Workstation and on Dec. 31 for Windows NT 4.0 Server. It turns out that BITS members are only getting some paid custom support, on which Microsoft declined to elaborate.
Some experts also wondered if Microsoft might continue to get some type of patch support by running NT 4.0 Server as a Virtual Server 2005 virtual machine. Virtual Server 2005, which is due out later this year, creates a "sandbox" for each instance of an operating system.
Any OS residing there would have the same issues as if it were running solo, said Lee Benjamin, a consultant, author and director of the Boston Area Exchange Server User Group.
Designed as a migration aid
But Eric Berg, Microsoft's group
"There is a subset of customers who are running applications that they are not going to rewrite, or they are ending that application," he said. "Virtual Server is just giving them more flexibility of that timing."
Berg said that in terms of security, customers can set up the "guest OS," or virtual machine, and just not have it connected to the virtual network, therefore isolating the instance of the operating system. This isn't an option for everyone, but it is one option nonetheless.
"Keep in mind, that overall, when we are looking at opportunities for Virtual Server 2005, we think the majority of users will be in the testing environment, and in server consolidation," Berg said. "The legacy migration is a piece, an important piece, but not the whole opportunity."