Simplifying IT and sharing to help others solve IT issues
Monday, December 16, 2013
The Clock is ticking - Windows XP and Office 2003 support to end soon
Microsoft has announced that they will officially end support for Windows XP and Office 2003. If you still have some PC’s running Windows XP and Office 2003 in your organization, now would be a good time to think about migrating them to Windows 7 or 8, and Office 2013.
What does End of Life really mean?
End of Life in the IT/Software world means that the software vendor, in this case Microsoft, will stop providing support, security updates and patches for the software. Please do not think that your PC will shut down and stop working, the PC will still work, but it does mean that after the announced End of Life (EOL) date of April 8, 2014, you will be extremely vulnerable to both security exploits and down time.
Windows XP and Office 2003 are still being used by a lot of businesses. If you are one of them, then it means NOW is the time to start thinking about upgrading those PCs that are running Microsoft Windows XP and Office 2003.
Microsoft has released an update to Windows 8 to make it stable, and Windows 7 is also a very stable OS. Most software vendors that write applications have been working hard to make their applications compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8. Office 2013 is also a great option to replace the old Office 2003.
Even though many of the businesses and most of our Clients have upgraded their software to the newer Operating system and the newer version of Office , many Microsoft Office 2003 and Windows XP users remain. According to data from from Naked Security, “Windows XP has almost a 39% hold on the desktop operating system market,” DDKinfotech expects this number to decrease significantly this year.
Is our business at risk if we continue to use Windows XP and Office 2003 beyond the End of Life date?
It’s time to move on — if not out of desire, out of necessity, since the lack of security updates after next year makes running either of these programs a real risk for business. For example, Microsoft Outlook is part of Microsoft Office where spam filters require monthly updates in order to properly function. Although Windows XP will technically be able to run in computing environments beyond April 2014, the privacy and safety of organizations could be compromised. Ultimately, data stored in these programs is no longer secure once update servers go dark.
We are thinking about waiting until the last day to upgrade
Considering the consequences of keeping Office 2003 and Windows XP after April 2014, it makes most sense to upgrade both as soon as possible. Personal PCs might be easier to update, while businesses will need to allow some additional transition time depending on the size of their organization. We anticipate that it could take anywhere from six to eighteen months to make a full switch from Windows XP to Windows 7 or 8. To successfully update PCs, Forrester Research explains that there are two basic options for migration: Doing the work in-house, or outsourcing the job to an IT firm (like Dataprise).
Some businesses might be hesitant to upgrade due to potentially high costs, but if they choose to do the work internally, volume licensing can help reduce the total price. Contracting a reputable IT firm, meanwhile, allows in-house admins to focus on critical data protection during the upgrade, rather than struggling to keep pace with demands for speed, often at the cost of security.
How can we ensure that we will not run into problems during the upgrade?
Redmond Magazine recently surveyed their readers, and found that 95% have installed Windows 7 despite 76% still having XP. About 41% have started installing Windows 8. Gartner’s VP of Research, Michael Silver recently explained that “we expect more than 15% of midsize and large enterprises will still have Windows XP running on at least 10% of their PCs after Microsoft support ends.”
Why? Well, we believe that some organizations have already attempted to migrate to Windows 7 and failed because they didn’t take the time to analyze their applications well enough or didn’t really communicate the plan effectively across the organization. Poor planning makes a terrible bedfellow for IT upgrades.
The bottom line? The potential for security risks and organizational failure after Windows XP and Office 2003 support ends significantly outweighs the necessary expense and effort that the transition requires. In other words, better safe than sorry.