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Learning Windows Server 2003 by Jonathan Hassell

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Assessing the Release

Two camps of people and their organizations will find compelling reasons to upgrade to Windows Server 2003:

Those still running a version of Windows NT.

The official Microsoft decree of end of life for NT Workstation 4.0 was on July 1, 2003, well before this book was published. NT Server 4.0 has an end of life for January 2005, but it’s really not a good idea to continue to bet your company’s IT assets and policy on a moribund operating system. Windows Server 2003 provides a good jump, and it’s a stable jump, too. A new server version of Windows will not be released at current estimates for at least five years, and more likely six or seven. Upgrading now makes sense if you’re running NT.

Those with Select or Open License Microsoft allow agreements current them to upgrade to the latest release at no additional cost.

If there’s no fee or additional monetary outlay for your upgrade, you can get the benefit of Windows Server 2003 for little cost. Windows Server 2003 requires about the same hardware as Windows 2000 Server, so if you’re currently on that level, you can keep the machines you already have and enjoy the fit, finish, and new features Windows Server 2003 offers you.

If you are not a member of either group, the value of upgrading to Windows Server 2003 is less clear. Traditionally, Microsoft operating system upgrades offered at least somewhat compelling reasons to move to the newest edition: improved user interfaces, performance improvements, the migration from 16- to 32-bit, and so on. That’s not as much the case anymore, at least until the next paradigm shift at Microsoft, which won’t be for a few years.

For most corporations, it’s a question of timing. Consider that the next radically different revision of Windows, codenamed Longhorn, is three years away on the desktop and four to five years away on the server. So, whatever you choose, you have a while to live with it. For others, it’s a question of finances: if you can’t afford to upgrade to Windows Server 2003, you are not missing much. If you are satisfied with Windows 2000, nothing in Windows Server 2003 is absolutely mandatory. If you’re on NT, however, it’s time to move to Windows Server 2003. (Although I am familiar with several IT shops that have done so, it doesn’t make practical sense to go to Windows 2000 from NT at this point.)

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