In 2004, the only constant will be change

A new year always means change.

Microsoft is changing. It plans to discontinue support for a broad range


products, including most versions of Windows 98, Office 2000, Office XP

Developer, Project 2000, Visio 2000, SQL Server 7, Outlook 2000, Visual

Studio 6, and more. Why? Well, the company says it's because it must

remove the Microsoft Virtual Machine in accordance with a legal with Sun

Microsystems over Java.

Yeah, right. So then why are some products, including Office XP

Professional with FrontPage, Publisher 2002, Windows NT 4.0

(Workstation, Server, Enterprise Server), and Small Business Server 2000

simply being updated to remove the offending code? Could it be because

Microsoft wants you to pay to move to newer versions of its cash-cow

products? Hmm? Nah. Couldn't be.

Look at it this way: AssetMetrix Research Labs says that more than 80

percent of companies still use Windows 98 and/or Windows 95. That just

isn't what Microsoft wants. So by killing off support and phasing out

the products, well, that's a lot of upgrade business.

Microsoft is changing in other ways, too. It is now offering a utility

that removes the Bookshelf Symbol 7 font from Office 2003. Why? Because

the font happens to include two swastika characters. Now how in the

world did this pass muster? It's a personal embarrassment for Steve

Sinofsky, the Microsoft senior vice president who had to fess up in an

open letter on Dec. 12. He called it a

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