Planning ahead with Microsoft

Some of us are natural planners.  Everything we do is on a schedule and planned well in advance.  Others are not.  The last minute or beyond is good enough.  We've found that keeping computer technology up-to-date is good for your productivity and security—as well as the bottom line. 

Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) and Office 2003 will be reaching end of support in April 2014. That's not quite two years from now!   We want to help you avoid the risk of running an unsupported version of Windows & Office, and to assist with your IT planning for 2012. The objective here is to highlight the potential risks involved with the upcoming end of support of these products and to outline the options available to mitigate these risks.  

What is the situation and potential risk? 

Microsoft Windows XP SP3 and Microsoft Office 2003 will no longer be supported from April 8, 2014 onwards. After this date, Microsoft will not provide any regular public support for these products, including security patches, non-security hotfixes or incident support. 

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 - Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information. 
  • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support – A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests "many independent software vendors (ISVs) are stopped support new versions of applications on Windows XP during in 2011; and in 2012, it will become even more common". And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware OEMs will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.  We haven't sold a PC or laptop with Windows XP in quite some time. 

What are the available options?

  1. Upgrade - This option affords customers the best return on investment by deploying a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010. Whether you’re a small business or the largest corporation with offices worldwide, moving to a modern PC with Windows 7 Enterprise and Office 2010 offers your business the ability to improve productivity for your employees and increase operational efficiency through improved PC security and management.
  2. Purchase a Custom Support contract through Premier Support to stay on unsupported products – If, for any reason, you decide to remain on Windows XP SP3 or Office 2003 after support ends, you have the option to purchase Custom Support. As a condition of buying a Custom Support contract, you must have a Premier Support agreement and Microsoft asks that you have some kind of migration plan in place. The cost of Custom Support is significantly higher than regular support, and rises annually due to the rising costs of supporting a legacy product. 
  3. Do nothing – Microsoft recommends customers avoid this option for it can put you at risk of potential security and compliance issues.  (There's that planning thing again!)

Where can you find more information?

We can work with you to help you upgrade your PCs for today’s business environment.  We'll probably republish this article in 2013 and 2014...for those who don't plan ahead!

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