Late Wednesday, It outlined a multi-stage retirement plan for the older server software, which was supplanted this year by the newer Windows Server 2003. Effective April 1, 2006, the Windows 2000 Server line will no longer be available.
The retirement notice comes almost eight months after the debut of Windows Server 2003 and nearly four years after Windows 2000 Server first appeared.
Microsoft will phase out Windows Server 2000 over a two-year span, starting on April 1, 2004, when Windows Server 2000 and Windows 2000 Advanced Server will no longer be available in the retail channel or through the company's volume licensing programs.
As of Nov. 1, 2004, the two versions, as well as Windows 2000 Datacenter, will be pulled from the direct channel--meaning that vendors such as Dell and HP, which have direct licenses from Microsoft, won't be able to sell systems packaged with the operating system. On Nov. 1, 2005, systems builders--typically smaller companies that produce servers by assembling components--will have to stop selling Windows 2000 Server products with their machines.
Although the server software is being put out to pasture, users will still be able to obtain disk sets until April 1, 2006, and will be able to acquire additional licenses by purchasing a license for Windows Server 2003, then exercising "downgrade" rights to install the operating system from disks the customer already holds.
Support for the server line is unchanged, Microsoft added. According to its previously published lifecycle road map for Windows 2000 Server, mainstream support--which includes free hot fixes--will end on March 31, 2005. Extended support will continue until March 31, 2007, after which Microsoft is not obligated to post free security patches.