With its transition from Mainstream Support, today marks the first day (of at least 1,825 – five years’ worth) of Windows 2000 Server’s Extended Support Phase.

Windows 2000 entered the marketplace in early 2000. It has been – and remains – a strong, important, and robust product for Microsoft and its customers. As Microsoft announced in 2002, all of our Business and Developer Products (in whose august company Windows 2000 Server counts itself) receive 5 years’ mainstream support followed by (as announced/revised in 2004) a minimum of 5 years’ extended support.

The difference?

The most significant difference is that during the Extended Support phase (which we’re now in – as of today) non-security related hotfixes are no longer provided free of charge. Microsoft will continue to provide security-related hotfixes to all Windows 2000 customers, but if you need a non-security related hotfix, you will need an Extended Hotfix Support Agreement, which must be acquired prior to September 30, 2005 (except for Software Assurance customers, who are not bound by this 90-day requirement). Complimentary support options and design change requests for Windows 2000 are no longer available during extended support. Of course, Windows 2000 customers continue to have access to all security fixes, self-help, and online support options (including knowledge base articles, online product information etc.).

Why?, you ask.

The lifecycle policy is intended to provide clear and transparent timelines for Microsoft’s support of its products. This allows customers to know exactly what our support plans are, to plan appropriately based on those support timelines, and it allows Microsoft to continue deploying resources to deliver great software and technology for our customers now and in the future.

Windows Server 2003 will remain in its Mainstream Support phase through June 2008, at which time it will make this same transition (and ‘Longhorn’ will, at that time, be in its Mainstream Support phase).

If you’re interested in additional information, see: Microsoft Support Lifecycle and/or Windows Server Transitions….

So, happy July! And welcome, Windows 2000, to the next phase of life.

-George Durham, Windows Server