Monday, March 17, 2008

Do You Need to Upgrade the Operating System or Applications?

Although Microsoft still sells licenses for Windows 2000 Professional and Windows 2000 Server, these versions of Windows are no longer the latest Windows versions. In fact, as of June 30, 2005, Microsoft has moved the Windows 2000 family from Mainstream to Extended Support. Extended Support will continue through June 2010 (at least). What does the change in support mean for your organization?

The most important consideration for desktop systems is that improvements to Windows 2000 Professional and Server will be made primarily at the security level, rather than at the new features level. In all likelihood, the current Service Pack 4 is the last service-pack level upgrade for Windrows 2000.

The second most important consideration for both desktops and servers is that complementary support is no longer available for Windows 2000. Paid support and security hotfixes will continue to be available, but non-security hotfixes will no longer be developed.

Given the lack of ongoing non-security development for Windows 2000, should you consider upgrading older systems to Windows 2000 instead of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003? Under certain circumstances, yes.

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Windows 2000 requires less powerful hardware than Windows XP or Windows Server 2003. Applications originally developed for Windows NT 4.0 might be more likely to run under Windows 2000 than under newer versions (although Microsoft offers a Program Compatibility wizard to help older programs to run). If your staff is certified in Windows 2000 and if Windows 2000 is sufficient for at least two years of ongoing operations, it may make sense to upgrade older systems to this version.


Learn more about Extended Support for Windows 2000 at evaluation/news/bulletins/extendedsupport.asp

However, you should now consider Windows 2000 an interim solution. Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista (a late 2006 release) are the future and offer improvements and enhancements not present in Windows 2000.

If you are in the process of moving to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, keep in mind that while these are the latest versions of Windows, they are not "brand new." They are built upon the Windows NT 4.0/Windows 2000 code base. Consequently, support staff experienced in Windows 2000 can be easily retrained to support the newer versions of Windows. If you are hiring personnel or support staff for use in an environment that has a mixture of Windows 2000 and Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, I'd recommend weighing experience as much as certifications in evaluating whom to hire. Just because people are certified for a new operating system doesn't necessarily mean that they're qualified to satisfy your every need when it comes to support. Perhaps the most important thing that I've found to be indicative of an employee's abilities is experience, not certification examinations. There are a lot of people who are very experienced (trial by fire, so to speak) with Windows 2000. It's one thing to read a book about how to drive a car and then pass a written test. It's another thing to get into a car and drive it. Experience counts.

The same goes for your administrative staff. I would not consider passing a certification exam to be all that's required to hire a new employee. Experience counts. If you want to hire employees who understand Windows 2003, it would be a good idea to look at their résumés to see that they have some experience with Windows 2000 (and the Active Directory) first.

Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP will be around for a few years, just as Windows 2000 has started to be accepted by many Windows sites (and Windows 2000 has been around in one form or another since 1999). So, if you want to wait and perform this upgrade later—or perhaps skip the current generation—a later upgrade might save you a lot of money in a large organization. One consideration is that some of the features of Windows 2003 variants (and there are four versions of Windows 2003) might be something that your organization can reap great benefits from. If that's the case, consider training your in-house employees on Windows 2003 and then using a laboratory of computers to ensure that the solutions they envision do indeed work.


just as upgrading to a newer operating system might not be necessary until it has been widely accepted by the marketplace, the same goes for applications. Although Microsoft Office (now in version 20031 and the various operating systems released in the past few years make up the larger percentage of Microsoft's sales, many users still use Office XP, Office 2000, or even Office 97. The main reasons to upgrade to a newer version of an application include features, support, and security. As long as security fixes are available for an application and its features are satisfactory, there's little reason to upgrade.

On the other hand, some application software vendors make upgrading more difficult or more expensive if you upgrade from two or more versions back. This should be kept in mind if you need to make upgrades as easy as possible for your users.

Before you decide whether or not to upgrade an important application, be sure to find out what the current upgrade costs will be for selected groups of users and all users, and don't forget to consider open-source alternatives for some users. Microsoft is continually changing its licensing policies, mainly due to market pressure.

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