Microsoft will pull the plugs on MSDN downloads of a range of products, including Windows 98, Office 2000, SQL Server 7 and NT Workstation, next Monday. These contain the polluted Java which, according to the settlement with Sun, Microsoft has to stop supporting. So it's all Sun's fault, really.
Up to a point. The deal with Sun doesn't actually require Microsoft to completely kill off its JVM finally until September of next year, so it's clearing the decks early, and perhaps conveniently. The demise of Office 2000, SQL 7 and ISA Server 2000* in particular will help usher users along the company's recommended upgrade paths. Microsoft will be issuing new, settlement compliant, versions of Office XP Pro, Publisher 2002, NT Server 4.0 and Small Business Server 2000.
Officially, the issue for Microsoft is one of support rather than availability. Windows 98 and NT 4.0 Workstation licences, for example, ceased to be offered through system builders earlier this year. Developers use the MSDN download facility, however, for support and backward compatibility purposes. Prudent developers will therefore be spending the next week grabbing images 'just in case', while the surreal-minded among you might care to conjure with the notion of Win98 ISOs showing up on P2P networks, with Sun lawyers in hot pursuit.
Depressingly, the cull doesn't seem to cover the unlovely Windows ME, which only just comes out of the OEM channel at the end of this month, and will remain street-legal via the more desperate class of system builder for another year. You might care to note that here, WinXP is scheduled to be pulled out of the OEM channel at the end of 2005, which means that the lifecycle roadmappers at least are still looking for Longhorn in Q3-4 2005.
But we can't always rely on the roadmappers. If you look here, at the bottom of the page, where it says: "Product availability dates for Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server will be published on this page after the release of its successor product, Windows Server 2003", you might reckon there's something the Windows 2000 Server team may have missed... ®
* Although ISA Server 2000 was on the retirement list as originally published, Microsoft has subsequently said it will be be issuing an updated version of the software. The current version will therefore remain available from MSDN until this happens.