When Does Microsoft Support For Windows And Office Products End?

With all the media talk of Windows 8 and Office 15 (likely to be called Office 2013) you may be wondering what happens to support for your current products?

This is particularly relevant if you use an older operating system like XP or have an older version of MS Office e.g. Office 2003 installed – how long will Microsoft continue to support them?

Microsoft support is complex but, in a nutshell, it is split into Mainstream and Extended Support. Mainstream offers the most as it includes warranty claims, design changes and feature requests i.e. products benefit from active development and enhancement, not just security updates.

Extended offers less but, crucially, it still provides security updates. Without security updates a product quickly becomes insecure – so when Extended support ends you really should upgrade to a newer version of the product.

The differences between both phases are shown in the table below:

support

Microsoft Support Phases

According to Microsoft’s Support Policy Lifecycle (subject to some conditions) in theory:

  • Mainstream support for business products (e.g. XP Professional) is 5 years followed by 5 years of Extended Support – a total of 10 years.
  • Mainstream support for consumer products (e.g. XP Home) is 5 years with no Extended Support.

Note: In practise Microsoft have waived these guidelines repeatedly to provide Extended support for longer periods – and for consumer products, not just business products.

Therefore the current cut off dates for the most popular Microsoft products are actually:

Windows 2000 and earlier

No support

Windows XP – ALL versions

Mainstream Support – N/A (finished in 2009)

Extended Support – ends 8th Apr 2014

Windows Vista – ALL versions

Mainstream Support – N/A (finished last month)

Extended Support – ends 11th Apr 2017

Windows 7 – ALL versions

Mainstream Support – ends 13th Jan 2015

Extended Support – ends 14th Jan 2020

Why The Policy Change?

Back in February, Microsoft quietly changed their policy of not providing Extended Support for consumer operating systems e.g. Vista/7 Home Premium – giving them both an extra 5 year lease of life.

That means that both Vista and Windows 7 now benefit from a total of 10 years of support for security updates, regardless of the version.

Cynics might suggest that this change is a tacit admission that many home users are not exactly chomping at the bit to upgrade to Windows 8 when it is released late this year. However, it does make a lot of sense to bring cut off dates for consumer and business products in line with each other.

Office XP, Office 2000 and earlier

No support

Office 2003

Mainstream Support – N/A (finished in 2009)

Extended Support – ends 8th Apr 2014

Office 2007

Mainstream Support – ends 9th Oct 2012

Extended Support – ends 10th Oct 2017

Office 2010

Mainstream Support – ends 13th Oct 2015

Extended Support – ends 13th Oct 2020

Internet Explorer

Follows the Support Lifecycle of its parent i.e. the Windows operating system.

Note that the latest version of Internet Explorer available for XP is IE8. Vista/Windows 7 users should be on the latest IE9.

MS Works 9

Mainstream Support – ends 9th Oct 2012. Consider installing LibreOffice – an excellent free alternative to MS Office which can read Works documents/spreadsheets (MS Office can’t)

Extended Support – N/A

Conclusion

For lifecycle information of other Microsoft products visit their info page here.

Users of Vista/Office 2007 and Windows 7/Office 2010 have little need to be concerned for 5 to 8 years respectively – far longer than the average lifespan of a typical computer.

Users of XP/Office 2003 have almost 2 years left before support finally ends – plenty of time to consider an upgrade or buying a new computer to make sure the software remains secure.