Firms that have skipped releases of Microsoft Windows to wait for the Vista operating system, which is due out this year, should migrate to Windows XP to avoid potential problems with application support, analysts have warned.
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There are still millions of copies of Windows 2000 running worldwide, even though mainstream support ceases on 30 June 2006, said Dan Kusnetzky, vice-president of system software research at IDC.
There were fresh installations of Windows 2000 Professional in 2005 in addition to the 1.7 million new copies installed in 2004, he said.
Users have been installing Windows 2000 to avoid the migration costs and application testing required if Windows XP is deployed said Michael Silver, research vice-president at analyst firm Gartner.
Microsoft will offer extended support for Windows 2000 Professional - at a price - but application providers may be less keen to support the legacy Windows 2000 platform, Windows XP and the forthcoming Vista release.
This means users could find they have unsupported applications, said Silver. "Users will probably not be able to deploy new PCs with Vista straightaway as it takes small application providers a long time to upgrade," he said.
Gartner is recommending that users continue running Windows XP until Vista has been thoroughly tested, which could take as long as 18 months. "Even when PCs are purchased with Vista, downgrade to XP until after testing," Silver advised.
Mike Thompson, principal analyst at Butler Group, highlighted another potential problem. The tools to migrate from Windows 2000 to Vista may not be as robust as XP to Vista migration tools.