Support for Windows NT Server 4.0 is due to cease at year's end, but the many users of the ageing Microsoft OS will find plenty of options as they plot their migration strategies. IBM two weeks ago said it would offer free migration classes and some discounts on software and services for those who opt to move from Microsoft products to IBM enterprise software running on Linux.

Not to be out-marketed, Microsoft last week promoted its improved migration tools, prescriptive guidance, discounted training, a freely available "online concierge" and other services.

Jim Hebert, general manager of Microsoft's Windows Server product management group, discusses the migration issue.

What did you think of IBM's program to entice Windows NT users to Linux?
We don't know much more about what they're doing than what we read in the papers, but from the short list of what they said that they were going to be offering customers, we actually felt pretty good because we've been offering those same opportunities to customers for about 24 months now. So a short version of what we think about this is imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

Linux is drawing much more attention today. Will Microsoft need to do more?
We are doing more. We've been continuing to invest in our tools and making sure that we've got partners. And the most important thing for most of our customers when they're thinking about potentially moving platforms is whether the software they need to run their business, not just the operating system, is available to them on that platform. We've made huge investments over the years to build the largest ecosystem of software available for any platform that I know of.

How many users are still on Windows NT Server 4.0?
There are parts of our business that we don't talk about publicly, and this is one of them.

Are more NT users moving to Windows 2000 or Windows Server 2003?
We see customers who already were halfway through an upgrade from NT 4 to Windows 2000 continuing on that front, and we're not going to ask them to start a new evaluation of running Windows Server 2003 and a Windows 2k environment at the same time. Either one of those operating systems provides significant benefits to an NT 4 customer.

Is there any chance that support for NT Server will be extended beyond the end of the year?