As of December 31, Microsoft will stop providing general support for Windows NT Server 4.0. This means no more patches, security fixes and so forth for the many companies that are still using NT 4.0 on production boxes -- unless they enter into a special paid support agreement with Microsoft. For large companies, this may be more cost-effective than migrating, but smaller companies are probably going to migrate or just stick with the unsupported product.
IDC guestimates that the aging OS makes up 17 percent of the installed base for Windows servers. That's a pretty hefty slice of the pie. Assuming a large number of those customers will decide to move away from the unsupported OS, the question is whether those customers will take the plunge and move to another product in Microsoft's Windows Server portfolio, or whether they'll go to Linux, BSD, Solaris or another OS. Obviously, a large portion of Microsoft's customers have decided that it isn't worth the cash to move to Windows Server 2000 or 2003. From where I'm sitting, this is a good opportunity for Linux vendors to pick up some additional business.
Companies using Windows NT 4.0 Server for file and print serving or basic Web services should find moving to a Linux setup to be a relatively easy transition -- and a much better ROI (Return on Investment) in the long run. Is your company or organization still using NT Server 4.0, and (if so) what's the plan for 2005?