In 2004, the only constant will be change

By Joel Shore, ITworld |  Opinion

A new year always means change.

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