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SmartAdvice: Best Practices For Using SAP In Multilingual Settings

Analyze your busines processes before selecting code pages when using SAP in a multilingual environment, The Advisory Council says. Also, don't count on a Windows NT Workstation security patch support extension; and there are two basic options when selecting an E-mail encryption technology for your sensitive mail.

Question B: What is the likelihood that Microsoft will extend the Windows NT Workstation security patch support beyond the current June 30, 2004, deadline?

Our advice: We think an extension is unlikely.

While there certainly is still a lot of Windows NT 4.0 out there (more so on servers than on workstations), the product really is becoming unsupportable. This is particularly true in the area of hardware support, where the lack of support for USB and Plug-and-Play device drivers limits the ability to upgrade (or sometimes even repair) desktop hardware.

Also, Microsoft has already slowed the release of security patches for Windows NT, with only two patches released in the nine months since July 2003.

Regarding Microsoft's history of last-minute support extensions, when it announced extended support for Windows 98 in January, the extension was to eight years after general availability. The 30-June-2004 support deadline for Windows NT is already eight years after general availability. Viewing the Windows 98 extension as a precedent for a further extension of Windows NT support is probably unwarranted.

Related Links

Product Lifecycle Dates - Windows Product Family

In the absence of any application functionality requirements that motivate an operating system upgrade, staying with Windows NT is an understandable response. Where security is a critical issue, however, the ending of security patch support should be sufficient motivation for the upgrade.

Given the unlikelihood of further support extensions, we strongly advise you to develop your migration plans from Windows NT Workstation to Windows XP. The learning curve for end-users moving from WNT to WXP is easy, as most of the differences are cosmetic. Your technical staff will have more of a learning curve (particularly with server upgrades), but that's really a question of when, not if.

Windows NT is obsolete. It's time to move on.

-- Peter Schay

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