Windows NT Is Dead, Long Live Windows NT

by Amit Tripathi    Dec 31, 2004

As the year 2004 comes to a close, Microsoft officially retires its old horse that won many a race and ushered in a new era of simplified GUI based network operating systems.

Windows NT, labeled by many as the “NetWare killer”, has officially been laid to rest today. However, the after effects still remain to be gauged. Will NT’s demise trigger a scramble for Windows 2003 upgrades, or will users turn to Linux for an alternative?

Speaking to CXOtoday Ajay Khanvilkar, manager-systems, Hindustan Dorr-Oliver Ltd., said, “We have already purchased Windows 2003 licenses since there are plans to go for an integrated ERP in the near future. But most importantly we have adopted the approach of a complete overhaul of the earlier systems, as a result of which we are upgrading our database (Oracle) too.”

This gives credibility to the fact that its always wiser to go for a complete upgrade instead of a piecemeal approach. Also, in this case, since the new ERP would be accessed online, the need for an NOS whose architecture is designed to handle Internet access without making the systems vulnerable to unauthorized access, became a necessity.

Reiterating the benefits, Khanvilkar said, “To make the data access faster we have already gone for a database upgrade as well, in terms of triggers, functions, and procedures. Moreover, through Windows 2003, Internet vulnerability is going to be reduced drastically in comparison to the earlier NT boxes.”

While the above argument is true, the change over to the next version of an operating system or any other system has got little to do with the vendor’s (in this case, Microsoft) support coming to an end!

Says C. Nagendra, deputy manager-information technology, Bharat Fritz Werner Limited (BFW), “Mere announcement that the vendor’s support ends on a particular date should not imply that the users will make a beeline for upgrades. This is largely industry specific. While the IT industry per se, might need to switch over to the next operating platform (given the type of work they do), a manufacturing industry like that of ours has to look at the applications and the processes that are largely compatible to one set of systems.”

Justifying his stand, Nagendra says that at his enterprise they use ProEngineer 2000 (a CAD solution) that works well on Windows NT rather than Windows 2000. But, how would he deal with patch fixes in case needed, since the support for NT ends from today? Nagendra clarifies, “We would carry on with Windows NT for a couple of years more, with occasional support from third party solutions providers.” By then, Nagendra would be able to garner the approval from his management for upgrading to the next version.

But users of Windows NT need not worry, as Microsoft has still not pulled the gun on its old horse. Says Vaibhav Phadnis, business group lead - enterprise servers, Microsoft India, “Microsoft will continue to provide free patches for Windows NT, which can be obtained from the official website of Microsoft.”

Speaking on the industry trend in migrating to Windows 2003, Phadnis says, “The migration to Windows 2003 is being driven by the increase in complexity of installations (increase in number of servers) in enterprises. Also Windows 2003 is accepted because it makes manageability of applications easier.”

And how smooth is the migration process from NT to 2003? Rajesh Mishra, head-IT, Eicher Group said, “As part of the migration exercise we wanted to consolidate the domains and bring the entire user management under single control across the group. We had major challenges in this part where we struggled to authenticate the entire user community on a new domain network, primarily due to our clients running Windows 95/98 instead of Windows 2000.” Most importantly, he adds, “Microsoft had to release special patches to handle the situation since lots of functionality of 2003 cannot be used if your client environment is not 2000 or XP.”

Among the other learnings that Mishra had in the process was phase wise migration, since the enterprise had multiple site in which case a planned site wise migration was better than full migration.

And is it possible to migrate NT apps to Linux? Says Nagendra, “For the manufacturing industry where 90% of the CAD/CAM applications are not compatible on Linux, its not an option at all, although given its stability and cost benefits, it would definitely be a strong consideration. Moreover engineers are more used to and comfortable working on Windows rather than Linux.”

Tags: NT, Linux, MS