Should You Retire Your Windows 2000 Systems?
Windows 2000 Service Issues Raised in New AssetMetrix Report
Jun. 15, 2005 11:15 PM
Windows 2000 has remained very popular within corporate IT in North America, and is still in use in almost half of the companies surveyed recently by Ottawa-based AssetMetrix. With Microsoft ending mainstream Windows 2000 support at the end of June, it may be time for companies to take a hard look at their Windows strategy over the next few years.
The latest version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, will not be available until sometime in 2006 (as currently scheduled). Although extended Windows 2000 support will provide several years of support overlap for companies deploying 2000 and Longhorn, the AssetMetrix report's author, managing director Steve O'Halloran, says there are several situations in which a company should consider retiring its Windows 2000 systems as expeditiously as possible.
Windows 2000 was in use on 48% of systems in companies surveyed by AssetMetrix in March 2005, compared to 52% in December 2003. In that same 15-month period, Windows XP deployment shot up from 7% to 37%, while NT declined from 13.5% to the 10% range. The older Windows 95 and 98 shrank to the low single digits.
The enduring, strong presence of Windows 2000 may present some support and version problems for IT management. As O'Halloran states in his report, "With Windows 95 & 98 no longer supported nor deployed significantly, Windows 2000 is now clearly the next edition of Windows to be retired. But the dominating popularity of Windows 2000 – in contrast to termination of mainstream support as well as the encroachment of Windows XP since October 2001 - suggests that Windows 2000 still plays an important part in some organizations."
Steve O'Halloran, AssetMetrix
The report provides a detailed picture of findings in companies of various sizes. It also finds many reasons for the enduring popularity of Windows 2000. One of them relates to the 1998-2002 timeframe, when corporate IT budgets became exchausted from the Y2K build-up, followed by the dot-com bust. Delays in the Longhorn release have extended what may have been the intended lifetime of the OS further. Security concerns about XP, followed by service packs that caused potential incompatibilities, also played a role.
In any case, O'Halloran notes that there is now "an immediate requirement to determine whether Windows 2000 should be maintained during Microsoft’s extended support timeframe or not."
He says there are two factors to consider when deciding whether to embrace extended support of Windows 2000:
1. "Companies should identify the role that client-based Windows 2000 plays within their organization and determine if the presence of Windows 2000 is due to any of the age of PCs, a standard for internal support and management, a standard due to external or business-critical processes."
2. "Through desktop inventory, organizations should determine PC replacement forecast up to mid-2007, and the current population count of Windows 2000 and Windows XP."
The report demonstrates that large organizations are generally more reliant on Windows 2000 than smaller ones, with the smaller ones generally more reliant on XP. Windows XP gained dominance in particular in companies using between 20 and 250 PCs, rising to 53% of all systems versus 38% running Windows 2000.
O'Halloran points out that security updates published after June 30, 2007 will no longer be included in Automatic Updates, but will need to be downloaded manufally. He also urges companies that have current XP installations of either less than 35% or greater than 65% to "proactively retiring Windows 2000," as these companies face PC lifespans that are either shorter or longer than normal, respectively.
For companies with XP deployments in the 35%-to-65% range, he advises a methodical examination of company policy, and warns that they need to "be prepared to support 3 operating systems by 2007 or put into place methods to retain Windows XP and Windows 2000."
AssetMetrix can be found at www.assetmetrix.com