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Retiring old Microsoft OSes – how it works

OEM licence Ts & Cs save crazy customers from selves, apparently...

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The processes whereby Microsoft squeezes a product out of the system and 'encourages' customers to migrate to the shiny new stuff are many, varied, and fairly well-known. But it's still worth documenting the occasional eye-witness account of how it works in practice. This week, when Microsoft has kindly extended the operational life of NT 4.0 Server a tad, a reader explains how being able to support it if you've already got it is an entirely separate matter from bloody-mindedly trying to install more of it.

Our informant works in an NT 4.0 shop which seems determined to persist with the heresy. They recently bought new Dell PowerEdge 1655MC blade servers with the intention of swapping them out with some of the old servers, while sticking with NT 4.0.

"I booted the server with the Dell Server Assistant CD to setup the first new server. Well, to my utter dismay, I see that the only supported OSes they are now supporting is Microsoft Windows 2000 and Red Hat Linux 7.3. Where did the NT drivers go?"

Naughty Dell? Well, no, not entirely. A Dell server sales rep says that Microsoft won't let Dell preinstall NT 4.0 any longer. But obviously, this is not a problem for our customer, because he already has the media and the licences, so he can install it himself. But the drivers - where did the drivers go?

Dell, it appears, has got them but...

The sales rep says: "While we have tested NT on the box, we cannot provide drivers or support for NT due to Microsoft regulations regarding the certification of NEW hardware platforms on old operating systems."

This would seem to suggest that Dell has NT drivers that work perfectly well on its new boxes, but that its agreement with Microsoft stops it from having them certified, and shipping them. Our customer points out that the machines use fairly standard third party components, and that it therefore ought to be feasible for customers to use non-certified drivers from these manufacturers.

These, one might speculate, Dell could ship, and have catered for in its setup assistant CD. Or could it? We at The Register would not be entirely surprised if it turned out Dell's arrangements with Microsoft forbade it from doing that, as well. ®

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