Microsoft Partner for Expert IT Support, based in Chester, supporting business across the North West, North Wales and the UK

Windows XP, Office 2003 & Exchange Server 2003 – your time is up!

8th April 2014 was a big day for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Exchange Server 2003. Not only did they celebrate their 10th birthdays, but they also retired from Microsoft’s supported software list. The overall outcome meaning that they are effectively at the end of their lives and will receive no more updates or support from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s much loved operating system really captured the market with its interface and functionality. Embraced by the public and businesses alike – it still has a 31% share of the desktop computer market. Windows XP end of life was a sad day for many die hard fans.

While still featuring Office favourites such as Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint – Office 2003 has been superceded by three newer versions of the world’s favourite office suite.

With much improved functionality over previous Exchange software, such as enhanced disaster recovery, improved message and mailbox management tools, Exchange 2003 was a popular version of the Microsoft email platform.

What does ‘End of Life’ really mean?

Well, effectively it means you really need to think about updating! Since 8th April 2014 Microsoft no longer provides any support for these three products, so there will be:

  • No security updates
  • No non-security hotfixes
  • No assisted support options
  • No technical content updates

Therefore if a security ‘loophole’ is found, it won’t be fixed! If a third party software update causes issues, it won’t be addressed.

Not updating from these platforms means putting your business and data at severe risk. For some organisations this may result in an officially recognised control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications.

Windows XP end of life, along with the other software that reached this status on 8th April 2014, really means what it says!

Why has Microsoft done this?

Back in 2002 Microsoft decided to adopt a Support Lifecycle policy for their products. This let people and businesses know how long they could expect support for the software they use. Per the terms of this policy, Microsoft agreed to provide a minimum of 10 years (five years Mainstream and five years Extended) support for their Business and Developer software products, which include Windows, Office and Exchange.

Since that time the clock has been ticking down and on 8th April 2014 the 10 years for Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003 was up.

I still use the software. What should I do?

Well, it’s time to take action – don’t let Microsoft end of life software catch you out! For businesses it can take several months of planning and implementation to migrate to a new operating system. Compatibility of hardware and software needs to be thoroughly tested, along with the safe transfer of data and the training of staff.

Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take several months from business case through full deployment. To migrate to supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately.

Also don’t forget that there are advantages to moving to an ‘up-to-date’ platform:

  • Enhanced functionality and newer technologies (such as Cloud support)
  • Better compatibility with modern hardware and software
  • Better security
  • Higher productivity and efficiency