The end of an era
I admit it, I am going to miss Windows XP. I know it like the back of my hand and still prefer it to Windows 7. That’s not to say I don’t use Windows 7 – in my line of work there’s no way I couldn’t. But XP was a natural progression from previous versions of Windows and there was a certain level of comfort in that. The disaster that was Vista, followed by Windows 7 and, later this year, Windows 8 are radical departures from the Windows many of us have been using for the last two decades.
But the XP era is coming to an end as Microsoft is finally going to close the book on XP as well as Office 2003 in April 2014.
What it means
So what happens to XP and Office 2003 in April 2014?
- If you own the software license, you will still own it.
- If it works, odds are it will continue to work.
- If it doesn’t work or you have problems in the future, Microsoft will not provide any support or fixes.
- You won’t be able to utilize new features that come out from Microsoft or other vendors.
- You likely won’t be able to find drivers for new peripherals such as printers, scanners etc.
Microsoft explains, “Microsoft Business and Developer products, including Windows and Office products, receive a minimum of 10 years of support (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support), at the supported service pack level.” They continue, “To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support.”
End of support means, “there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as Security & Compliance risks and Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support.” Even some vendors in 2012 are now not supporting this environment. You can see Microsoft’s website for more detailed information regarding these risks and how they will help customers migrate. You even can download a free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit from their site.
What you’ll need to do
If you still have XP or Office 2003 deployed then sometime in the next year and a half or so you are going to need to upgrade. Some of your older equipment may support Windows 7, but I would bet that most won’t. So you will need to budget for new hardware and software.
You will need an upgrade plan. For most small businesses this won’t be too complex but for larger deployments it will be trickier. This plan should minimize end user interruption and should allow enough time for any issues that may pop up during the process.
The plan should include assessing current systems for upgrade readiness, a budget for hardware, software and labor as well as a timeline for the roll-out.
Additionally, you should consider user training for both the new version of Windows and Office.
Whatever your plan, you should start on it immediately. April 2014 may seem like a long time from now, but requirements, budget and execution are real time eaters. It’ll be New Year’s Day 2014 before you know it.
Your turn. Let me know what your plan is and what challenges you anticipate in the comments section.