Yes you did read that correctly. Effective April 8, 2014 Microsoft will no longer provide support or updates for their Windows XP and Office 2003 products. What does this mean? Well, it means that, moving forward, the above mentioned software will become increasingly dangerous to have on your network. This would be due to virus threats that will no longer be addressed by Microsoft updates.
So why is Microsoft doing this? Well, in 2002 Microsoft released a little document called “Microsoft Support LifeCycle”.
The gist of it is that Microsoft is no longer willing to support their products indefinitely. Ultimately it takes money to keep people on staff to maintain a product and MS has decided that project budgets will have a finite limit which will define how long a product will remain in Support. What it also means is that as long as you are using an old product you are not buying their new products, and therefore not increasing their revenue stream (sorry Microsoft). And that isn’t good for business. From Microsoft’s business perspective the new concept is a masterstroke. From a user point of view, however, it has the potential to be very problematic – and expensive.
As an example, let’s say you have a small to medium size business with 10 or more computers in it. These computers all run proprietary software developed under Windows XP. The software won’t work under any other operating system. Now what? Well, proprietary software isn’t cheap. It is usually made for small specific groups and, because it isn’t sold in mass amounts, it’s usually pretty expensive so the developers can make a profit.
So now you are spending a thousand dollars or more on a license for a newer version of your special software (if you can even get an updated copy). As well, you’ll have to buy new hardware because your old equipment isn’t good enough for the demands of the new operating system and software. The new software needs to have a server for its purpose so there’s another cost, plus you need licenses for all your operating systems and any other software required (like MS Office for example). As you can see, even for ten computers, that can easily add up to a lot of cash. Businesses and (especially) non-profit organizations don’t always have the ready cash for such investments.
So what if there is no option and you have to keep your Windows XP operating system running? Well, it means you are best to keep those computers isolated from the rest of your network to protect yourself from the potential threats that may come your way. You may also want to keep them off the Internet. And if these PC’s absolutely have to be on the Internet, you may need to bring in a secondary Internet service just for the XP machines, putting a heavily locked down firewall in front of them for protection.
Alas, every situation is going to be different. Your needs will be different than anybody else’s. I’ve found a couple of articles I think worth the read which could help you. Of course there are a further plenitude of articles you can research out yourself on Google. I do feel your pain though. My car’s GPS only updates on….you guessed it…Windows XP 32 bit.
Got a question or an idea for a topic you would like to see covered in one of my upcoming blogs? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and sound off. I’ll do what I can to address your questions or concerns either personally in a reply email or on the blog. Until next month, take care.