With Windows 8 and Office 2013 on the horizon, Microsoft has announced that it will be ending support for Office 2003 and Windows XP. The reason for this is because the Support Lifecycle Policy, which was brought in in 2002, is ending. The policy outlined that Microsoft would provide a minimum of 10 years of support for all of its Developer and Business products, which meant that Windows and Office would also come under that. The 10 years of support were split into five years of Extended Support and five years of Mainstream Support.

As a result, after the 8th of April 2014, Windows XP and Office 2003 will no longer be supported by Microsoft, if the organisation using the package hasn’t started the transition process to a more recent product.

What it means for Customers

After the 8th of April 2014 the following benefits will no longer be available:

  • Security updates.
  • Hotfixes.
  • Assisted support options; both paid and unpaid.
  • Technical content updates online.

Those companies that run either of these programs after support has ended are leaving themselves at risk. The main risk comes in the form of security. Without the updates to keep up with the latest cyber attacks, it could leave sensitive information in a vulnerable state. Audits could then be failed by the company when it comes to any public information on their records, and that could cause catastrophic damage in the eyes of their customers.

And that’s just the start of it. Any independent software that’s used by the company could become unusable as developers won’t be creating versions that are compatible with these older software programs. This also translates to hardware as the large majority of PC manufacturers won’t be supporting the likes of Windows XP anymore.

What Happens Now?

Organisations have been urged by Microsoft to start deploying their transition plans now. This is because data taken by Microsoft has demonstrated that average deployment times can take anywhere between 18 and 32 months to complete. So if customers don’t start changing now, they could be left without any support for a significant period of time.

There are a variety of benefits to actually upgrading, beyond the advantages of having comprehensive technical support. The newer versions of these products are able to deal with the latest developments, such as cloud technology. And these products have the tools to ultimately increase productivity at all levels.