"MS finally normalized the way their stuff is supported and the first Lifecycle policy is here now. Your regular support ends in December 2003 for Exchange 5.5, March 2004 for SQL Server 7.0 and March 2005 for Windows 2000. The new support plan means that mainstream support for W2K Pro will run until March 31, 2005, and extended support will last until March 31, 2007.
In general, mainstream support includes the various options and programs you have access to today, such as no-charge and paid incident support, support for warranty claims and hot-fix support to address specific problems, which is sometimes referred to as quick-fix engineering. Extended support can include support charged on an hourly basis or paid hot-fix support. In order for you to be eligible for paid hot-fix support, you must buy an extended hot-fix support contract within 90 days after the mainstream support period ends.
In addition to mainstream and extended support, an online self-help option will be available for at least eight years from the general availability date for most products. The general availability date will be determined by adding three months to the date that MS releases a product to manufacturing.
So, how is this whole thing going to pan out for NT 4.0? Your mainstream support for 4.0 will last through Dec. 31, 2002. That is six years and not five years after the general availability of 4.0. But the extended support for 4.0 will only be one year instead of two and lasts until Dec. 31, 2003. This is consistent with the dates they gave in 2001, and complies with the seven years of combined mainstream and extended support MS promises in its new plan. Now, keep in mind that hotfixes are another story all together. It is now clear that NT 4.0 will have free security hotfixes until the end of 2003. No more hotfixes for a platform will be an immediate invitation for hackers to start attacking that platform ferociously. So, you have to plan with this! The message is: "move over to W2K before Dec. 2003 or start paying for hotfixes".