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Anyone running Mac, Unix or Linux client operating systems can skip this. If you have Windows, read on.

Anyone running Mac, Unix or Linux client operating systems can skip this. If you have Windows, read on.

Many organisations upgraded desktop and notebook infrastructures in anticipation of Y2K. Such upgrades mean many of business users still boot up in pre-Windows 2000 OSs.

According to International Data Coporation (IDC), the worldwide installed client operating system environment breaks down as follows: 20.4% run Windows 95, 36.4% Windows 98, 12% opt for Windows NT Workstation, 12.3% go with Windows Millennium Edition, and 9.6% have upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional. Here's why those numbers are important.

Microsoft offers three levels of support explained in more detail

here. In the so-called Mainstream Phase, Microsoft offers such things as incident support, hot fix support and online support information for up to three years after general availability of the operating system. In year four, support morphs into the Extended Phase basically the same as Mainstream except Microsoft now charges for it. Finally in year five, all Microsoft OSs are relegated to the Non-Supported Phase where self-guided online support is your only option.

On December 31, 2001, Windows 95 officially becomes a non-supported operating system. Six months later on June 30, 2002, all Windows Millennium Edition and Windows NT Workstation operating systems enter the pay-for-support Extended Phase. Bottom line: Within the next nine months, 44.7% of the current Windows environments will offer fewer support options.

If you are a Windows user and are planning to remain one upgrade your desktop and mobile infrastructure preloaded with the Windows 2000 operating system. And do it now.

Computer prices cannot go much lower, and you can begin to take advantage of new e-business software applications optimised for the Windows 2000 platform. Why wait?

Beach is publisher of CIO magazine in the US, a sister publication of Computerworld.

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