Microsoft has improved its support for Windows NT 4.0 Server and has outlined how it will end support for e-mail system Exchange Server 5.5.
Microsoft originally said that normal support for NT 4.0 would end this month, and that firms that have yet to upgrade to Windows Server 2003 would have the option of paying for extended support up to December 2005.
After calls from larger firms for more time to move from the venerable operating system, Microsoft agreed to extended support until December 2006.
Peter Houston, Microsoft Windows Serviceability senior director, said, "Some of our large enterprise and public sector customers have told us they need until 2006 to complete the upgrade. To ease their migration, we have decided to run the custom support program until 31 December 2006, and charge the same amount as we will in 2005."
The "custom support" option will also be more comprehensive. "Previously we only offered support for vulnerabilities designated as ‘critical’. After hearing from customers that they want updates for vulnerabilities we’ve designated as ‘important’, we have found a way to deliver this enhanced level of service," Houston said.
Microsoft has also announced that support for Exchange Server 5.5 will end at the end of 2005, and that there will be a further two years of custom support available, with Microsoft pulling the plug completely in December 2007.
Microsoft wants firms to upgrade to Exchange Server 2003, which it claims offers greater security and improved support for mobile users. Microsoft said the installed base of Exchange Server 5.5 has decreased by 25% over the past year as firms have upgraded.