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Vendors Fill NT 4.0 Support Void

Microsoft ended free public support for NT 4.0 Server on Jan. 1, but that doesn't mean users are left out in the cold. A number of firms have come forward to offer third- party services for users of the disenfranchised users.

One is PivX Solutions, which today announced that its Qwik-Fix Pro product will continue to serve Windows NT 4.0 users. PivX claims its service protects users with its Active System Hardening technology that blocks the underlying vulnerabilities that attackers exploit via worms and viruses.

PivX believes its solution is better than what Microsoft users were used to.

"We absolutely think our security mitigation "fixes," which focus on blocking the root cause of Windows vulnerabilities, are superior to what was provided from Microsoft prior to Jan. 1, 2005 and beyond," Alex Tosheff, CTO of PivX, told internetnews.com.

Microsoft, for its part, previously noted that it would be offering custom support contracts to NT 4.0 users. A Microsoft spokeswoman also said some Microsoft Gold Certified Partners for Support Services may continue to provide support even though it's no longer available from Microsoft. The spokeswoman noted that a list of support partners is posted on Microsoft's Gold Certified Partner site.

Microsoft has strongly encouraged its users to migrate to newer software, including Windows Server 2003. PivX's CTO however doesn't believe all customers will upgrade just because something new is out.

"There are lifecycle costs and other associated expenses to consider before upgrading," PivX's Tosheff explained. "It may in fact be less expensive to continue utilizing fully-depreciated computing assets in combination with the security benefit a product like PivX's Qwik-Fix Pro provides vs. upgrading."

Jupiter Research's Joe Wilcox has numbers that may show that there's a market for NT support. Wilcox noted that plenty of businesses still use Windows NT. According to a recent Jupiter Research survey, 41 percent of large U.S. businesses were running NT 4.0 Server and that was essentially no change from a survey they had done 10 months earlier.

"To me that's a potentially viable market, the big question is what kinds of security services would these business need," Wilcox told internetnews.com. "From talking to businesses, we know that the servers are in very tactical areas like file and print and some Web servers, they are there and they work. From a cost perspective it doesn't make a lot of sense to switch them out."

Wilcox added that companies with file and print servers that are behind networks running NT 4.0 server may not worry so much about security as opposed to those running Windows NT 4.0 as web servers who might be very concerned about security.

Whether third-party vendors offering NT 4.0 support are successful depends on what they offer as opposed to what Microsoft offers in Wilcox's opinion.

"What businesses really need to be concerned about are the patches that Microsoft releases," Wilcox explained. "If I'm an IT manager what I care about is some new exploit and getting the newest Microsoft patch and who is going to provide that to me the cheapest way possible."

Jupiter Research is owned by the same company as this Web site.