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Windows NT and 2000 customers should move to Win 2003 as soon as possible to take advantage of lower support costs, according to Microsoft.

Stuart Okin, Chief Security Officer at Microsoft UK, said that the cost of supporting earlier Microsoft platforms has gone up because of the expense in applying security updates.

But if customers invest to modernise their systems and move on XP and Windows Server 2003 then their support costs will eventually fall to a level lower than they ever had with earlier versions of Windows, according to Okin.

"If we can persuade people to move over the hump then they will enjoy lower support costs eventually. Along with this they'll move to an OS with a fundamentally different, more modern architecture that's more built for Web services," he told The Register.

Windows Servers 2003 comes with many services turned off by default to the impact of any security vulnerability tends to be less serious on that platform. Okin said any decision to move operating system platform should based on a solid business case; security is only one of the elements to be considered.

Security depends more on people and process than OS platform but upgrading technology can improve an organisation's security stance.

Recently, Microsoft extended Windows 98 support until the end of June 2006.

Giving security coverage to remaining Windows 98 users - particularly consumers - undoubtedly played a part in these decisions, according to Okin, who said the decision will enable users to migrate over a longer period.

Okin's comments come in the run-up to a visit to London by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on Monday, Jan 26.

Also the the battle for hearts and minds between Redmond and Linux advocates for control of the multi-billion dollar OS market is intensifying. This week IBM announced a marketing programme to help customers dump Window NT and move straight to Linux. ®

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