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12/15/2006
01:18 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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Ready Or Not, Time To Upgrade Windows

One of the more baffling objections to open source is the fear that the user won't be able to find support. Users fear they'll find themselves abandoned, with no vendor to turn to when they run into problems. Users see proprietary software as a safer alternative. But, in fact, proprietary software vendors abandon their users all the time. It's a standard business practice -- if you're a proprietary software vendor, and you want to force your users to buy into your product upgrade, jus

One of the more baffling objections to open source is the fear that the user won't be able to find support. Users fear they'll find themselves abandoned, with no vendor to turn to when they run into problems. Users see proprietary software as a safer alternative. But, in fact, proprietary software vendors abandon their users all the time. It's a standard business practice -- if you're a proprietary software vendor, and you want to force your users to buy into your product upgrade, just close the spigot on support for your older product. That's what Microsoft is doing with Windows 2000.

As described in a feature article by Brian Livingston,, Microsoft ended what it calls "mainstream support" for Windows 2000 way back in June 2005. What does that mean? Well, for starters, Microsoft's Windows Defender antispyware program won't run on Windows 2000 -- users report that Microsoft intentionally crippled Windows Defender so it wouldn't run on the older operating system. That doesn't just jeopardize W2K users; it jeopardizes all of us, because infected machines create security risks for everyone.

Another example: Microsoft isn't making a patch available for Windows 2000 to reflect the 2007 changes to Daylight Savings Time. In 2007, Americans will have more Daylight Savings time than previous years -- we'll be springing ahead earlier in the year, and falling back later. Other countries are also making changes. That's not such a big deal for consumers, but businesses need to run networks, and many important functions on the network rely on accurate timekeeping. Moreover, if you've got a large number of Windows 2000 machines on your network, setting the time for each one manually requires significant work. What's a minor inconvenience for consumers is a big pain for businesses.

You can't even use your Zune to listen to music on your Windows 2000 machine.

Microsoft is exhibiting short-sighted disdain for its business customers by closing the door to support on its older products relatively quickly. It's missing an opportunity to generate goodwill and increase customer loyalty at a time when the company faces stiff competition from open source software, and from Google and other providers of software-as-a-service.

Microsoft's greedy support policy makes open source looks more attractive. Open source users routinely testify as to the availability of quality support for their software on Internet discussion groups. If that's not enough support for you, you can hire companies like IBM, Red Hat, and Oracle to support open source products. And if that's not enough for you -- you have access to the source code. You can hire someone to write the code you need.

Microsoft needs to support its products. Forever. Period.

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