While ordinary folk rush to catch the final rubbish and recycling collections before the holiday disruptions, Microsoft are doing much the same thing. The difference is, Microsoft's "junk" consists of old utilities and Operating Systems which are finally being deleted and taken out of any retail channel.

The best-known products to get the chop are all forms of Windows 98 before the Second Edition, Windows NT 4 and Outlook 2000 which will only be available in old Office compilations from now on. The latter product's role in the Half-Life 2 source code theft will have only hastened its demise.

The complete listing is as follows:

BackOffice Server 2000
Embedded Visual Tools 3.0
IE 5.5
MapPoint 2002
Office XP Developer
Office 2000 Developer
Office 2000 Tools
Office 2000 Multilingual
Office 2000 Premium SR-1
Office 2000 Service Pack 2
Outlook 2000
Project 2000
SQL Server 7
SQL Server 7 Service Pack 3
Windows 98 (does not affect Windows 98 Second Edition)
Windows 98 Y2K
Windows 98 Resource Kit
Windows 98 SP1 (does not affect Windows 98 Second Edition)
Windows NT 4.0 (Terminal Server and Option Pack add-ons only)
Visio 2000
Visual Basic for (Alpha Systems)
Visual Studio 6 MSDE
Visual Studio 6.0 SP3 and SP5

As these products contained code that was decreed illegal when settling a legal battle with Sun Microsystems, for once Microsoft isn't deliberately thinking of growing its own business- the products are old and another company doesn't want the Redmond Giant distributing its code anymore. It does provide another opportunity to persuade users of older software to upgrade.

However as noted in business magazine PC Pro, the buying of MS updates to keep within business support contracts, doesn't necessarily mean those newer XP and 2003 products are actually in use.

Windows 98 Second Edition's support finally finished this summer with only the online help preserved and no more OS updates. Meanwhile the ground breaking (or some might say Mac OS-stealing) Windows 95 was declared dead on New Year's Eve 2002.