Posted by & filed under IT Support, Microsoft Office.

We’ve previously updated you on the fact that Microsoft is withdrawing support for the Windows XP operating system in April 2014 but you may not be aware that the same fate awaits Microsoft Office 2003.

In 2002 Microsoft produced the Support Lifecycle policy to ensure that users of their products where given clear visibility of the support they could expect. They committed to providing a minimum of 10 years support from product release (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support) and they also committed to informing customers when such support would be withdrawn.

In line with this policy, Microsoft announced that Windows XP (Service pack 3) and Office 2003 will go out of support on 8th April 2014.

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.

So what’s the risk to your business?

Running Windows XP and Office 2003 after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

  • Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may lead to your systems being affected by viruses resulting in system failure. This lack of control may also lead to your business breaching important internal or external rules such as those associated with data protection.
  • Lack of Independent Software Vendor and Hardware Manufacturers support: It is unlikely that specialist software that your business uses will continue to be supported on XP or continue to be compatible with Office 2003. Also, a recent industry report from Gartner Research notes that in 2012, most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.

There are many options for small and medium businesses considering moving from XP and/or Office 2003, including some that don’t involve the outright purchase of new software, so if you are unsure what to do then speak to your IT support provider as soon as possible.

The PC Support Group’s recommendation is that you start to consider your options now to give you time to plan and budget for an upgrade over the next 6 to 8 months.