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12/15/2006
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Microsoft Turns Up The Heat On Windows 2000 Users

Companies that rely on Windows 2000 face tough, end-of-lifecycle choices as Microsoft pushes upgrades to Windows Vista, 2003, and Longhorn Server.

Microsoft's policies can lead to some big frustrations for companies that have major investments in Windows 2000. One of the biggest headaches at the moment is the lack of a patch to update the meaning of Daylight Saving Time on Windows 2000.

The beginning and ending dates of DST in the United States will be significantly altered in 2007, thanks to an act of Congress. Various changes also affect other countries. Western Australia made an official switch to daylight time on Dec. 3, 2006. The last-minute action by a state parliament afforded IT admins in that country only 12 days to adjust their computers' time.

Despite the importance of accurate timekeeping in many computer networks, Microsoft doesn't plan to release a patch that will update Windows 2000 systems to the new time-zone definitions. A patch was posted on Nov. 21 for Windows XP and Server 2003 (see KnowledgeBase article 928388). But a version is conspicuously absent for W2K.

Paul Chinnery is network administrator for a community hospital in western Michigan. With 38 servers, all running Windows 2000, and almost 300 workstations, 40 percent of which still run W2K, he's furious that Microsoft won't provide admins in his situation with such a simple patch.

"With the number of organizations in this country that are still using Windows 2000," Chinnery said, "it's a dereliction of Microsoft's duty to its customers not to put out a patch for the time-zone issue."

Patients in his hospital might not actually die if a computer's clock was off by one hour, he said. But government regulations (not to mention common sense) require accurate records for such things as surgeries and medications, where one hour can definitely make a difference.

In this case, there's a workaround that Windows 2000 admins can apply. A utility known as tzedit.exe, which is included in the Microsoft Windows Resource Kit, allows manual editing of Registry keys that define the beginning and ending of DST. (For information, see KnowledgeBase article 886775.)

Chinnery says he's accepted the fact that he'll have to use the utility to fix his Windows 2000 systems. But, lacking an easily deployable patch, it means he must walk around to tweak each machine in his organization. This is a chore he doesn't feel he should face.

Other new software titles upset him as well. Chinnery wants the better reporting features that are expected to be found in Microsoft's forthcoming version 3.0 of Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). But the Redmond software giant says its new patch-management software won't run on Windows 2000. Chinnery says he might switch to Patchlink Update, a competing product that supports a much longer list of operating systems than WSUS.

Why doesn't Chinnery upgrade his machines? "If we go to Windows Server 2003 and then Longhorn Server comes out, it might be more money on top of more money," he says. "Being a small health-care organization, there's only so much money to go around."

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