It looked like third time lucky last week, as Microsoft claimed NT4 support will definitely end later this year - a move only cautiously welcomed by the channel.
NT4 Enterprise Edition will be supported until 30 June, and NT4 Server until 31 December. Microsoft has extended the support life of NT4 twice before.
"We'd upset more customers by extending than we will by cancelling support," said Bruce Lynn, business group leader at Microsoft's UK server division.
"This is a big source of debate. But if we don't stick to the support dates we gave, the cost to our reputation would be great."
He said Microsoft is moving to a more granulated approach to retiring software. Rather than cutting off support suddenly, it will increase the expense of using a product to match support costs and encourage upgrading.
While Linux resellers are keen to capitalise on the proposed withdrawal of support for Windows 98, Windows NT is seen as less of an opportunity.
Chris Whitely, UK enterprise solutions manager at Clarity Technology, said: "There's interest in [migrating to] open source, but Windows 98 and NT4 are quite different beasts under it all.
"A lot of people are seeing NT to XP as a more natural progression, and may take the upgrade path."
Tony Davis, managing director of VAR Elcom IT, said: "We will get business off the back of this. But I would prefer customers to make their own decisions, rather than have an upgrade forced upon them by Microsoft."
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