Microsoft Support For XP And Office 2003 Ends A Year From Today

It’s been in the pipeline for years but it is worth a reminder that all Microsoft support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will end on April 8, 2014. Just one year to go – the countdown clock is ticking!

What Does End Of Support Mean? The end of support for these products means they will receive no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. Although XP and Office 2003 will continue to work, the lack of future security updates should be of real concern – both of these venerable products still require regular monthly security patches as part of the Windows Update cycle.

XP in particular is inherently less secure than the more modern Windows 7 and 8 but, once these updates stop, XP computers will become even more vulnerable to the latest security threats.

Even if users are prepared to accept these increased security risks, there is also the likelihood that vendors will take this end of support date as an opportunity to cease provision of XP-compatible software and drivers. For example, if you buy a new printer next Summer you may find that it doesn’t support XP – the same could apply to the latest version of programs such as antivirus suites and graphics editors.

Mitigating Factors – Of course if an XP computer is never connected to the internet (and does not share files with other computers e.g. via a USB flash drive) then the security risks are minimized – but very few computers nowadays are used solely offline.

The end of support for Office 2003 is arguably less important than for the operating system itself as most home users only use Word, Excel and Powerpoint – not the Outlook business email management product which, by definition, requires copious internet use. As long as users only create their own documents, and do not open any sent to them, the security risks would be much decreased.

How Many People Might Be Affected? The latest figures from NetMarketShare for March 2013 reveal that over 38% of PCs still use Windows XP, compared to about 45% for Windows 7, 5% for Vista and just 3% for Windows 8:

Market Share March 2013

38% represents hundreds of millions of computers around the world. Even more worrying is that in May 2012 XP had a market share of just over 44% – so it has only lost 6% in the last year. If that decline in numbers is not dramatically increased there may still be hundreds of millions of insecure XP machines connected worldwide next year…

Call To Action? Doubtless millions of home users will happily keep their old XP and Office 2003 computers running long after next year’s deadline, regardless of any security and compatibility implications. We can call them the “if it ain’t broke” brigade – and no amount of tech talk is going to change their mind…

Other users may put off the decision until the last minute and upgrade nearer the time – a seemingly sensible investment decision to get the most possible value out of old (but costly at the time) PCs and software.

However, there are a couple of cautionary points to note for those planning to upgrade in a year’s time – you may not have the same choice as now, both for Windows and for Office:

Windows Choice – upgrade to a new computer today and you still have the choice of Windows 8 or Windows 7. As an example, Newegg’s current catalog includes 197 W8 desktops and 108 W7 Home Premium desktops (plus another 267 with W7 Pro).

W8 is only 6 months old so its predecessor W7 is still heavily represented in the marketplace. However, if the past history of Windows is anything to go by, the proportion of Windows 7 PCs for sale will plummet – by this time next year it may be difficult to find mainstream consumer PCs with Windows 7 as an option. That will not matter if you want Windows 8 anyway but, for many people, a widespread choice of Windows 7 computers (with a UI more similar to their existing XP) would be more welcome.

Office Choice – the situation is similar as supplies of Office 2010 are being phased out in favor of the new Office 2013 and Office 365. In a year’s time Office 2010 may simply not be an option on the shelves – the DVD installation version is already in very short supply as those in the know buy up stocks…

Again, whilst this potential lack of choice will not matter to those who prefer Office 2013 or 365 anyway, there are many reasons why the choice of Office 2010 could make greater financial sense.

As an example, the popular Office 2010 Home and Student retail DVD is typically available for $150 and can be installed on three computers whereas the newer Office 2013 Home and Student is typically $140 but can only be installed on one computer – failure to act now may cost you a lot more in the long run…

7 thoughts on “Microsoft Support For XP And Office 2003 Ends A Year From Today”

  1. You can likely still pick up a cheap “new” copy or even a cheaper used copy of Win7. Really, XP is vastly inferior to Win7 in capability and stability and the only thing you might need is more RAM (4 GB is plenty), which is still very inexpensive right now.

    Upgrading an existing OS install is just about always more troublesome than doing a disk wipe and clean install – just backup your browser setup, personal files, paid for downloads, pix, etc and wipe the boot partition and upgrade to Win 7 if you really need MS support (who cares, really ?).

    But your copy of XP will continue to function as it always has in the past even without MS support and will continue to do so indefinitely, so long as you can find hardware that will make it function. I still run 40 year old operating systems on occasion, just for the halibut, and they never had any support other than my own, hehe.

    • Thanks for the tips Bob. You’ve given me lots to think about and will remember what you’ve said here when the time comes. It’s all very much appreciated.

  2. Thanks Roy. You have given me all the information I needed to make a better informed decision on how I should proceed.

    Think I’ll wait the year out and see what happens. I know that if anything changes I can always rely on this site to inform me.

    Thanks for all you do!

  3. Well I guess, here we go again with another Microsoft money grab. All this shows is that Microsoft doesn’t give a dam about its customers!
    Everybody I’ve talked to hates Windows 8 and what in the hell is the sense in getting 7 if that’s next to go by way of no support.

    I guess Microsoft thinks it can function like a government and decide to tax us whenever they see fit by making us spend money on their products every few years. “Nothing But A Money Grab To Please Share Holders!”

    And while we mention governments, why the hell do they let them get away with this???

    At least they could force the almighty “Microsoft” to provide Windows 7 or 8 FREE to those who get stuck in their money grabs.

    I guess the best thing for me to do now is spread the word by repeating what I have just stated to all I can so that maybe we can get enough outrage created to at least get our costs covered for new essential upgrades.

    Either that OR even better yet;

    Get as many as possible to “SWITCH TO A MAC!”

    Thanks for the heads-up guys. You do us a great service by keeping us informed.

    More than I can say for “Micro-SHAFT!”

    • @Maurice – thanks for the comments, great to hear some strong and honest views! However, this time I find myself in the unusual position of defending Microsoft ;-)

      It might seem grasping of MS to end support but XP updates will last for almost 13 years – for a product that only cost c $100 in the first place. Windows 7 support ends in Jan 2020 so even buying it today you still get nearly 7 years of support – far more than the typical PC lifespan.

      Personally I agree with you on W8 and suspect MS will bow to pressure by releasing a service pack or W9/Blue with optional Start button and/or ability to turn off modern UI.

      Ps Apple usually support only the current Mac OS and the prior OS. Mac upgrades (to a later OS version) are cheaper than Windows but also more frequent. A good spec new W7 PC with 7 years of support costs $600 today – good luck finding a new Mac for that ;-)

      • Thanks for your response Roy but I still think Microsoft should at least offer a discount for an upgrade to 7 for XP users.

        Why can’t us XP users just keep our PC and install the 7 platform through their disk?

        I’m not great on all the techie stuff but am learning thanks to this site. To me that would be the cheapest way to go don’t you think?

      • @Maurice – MS offered substantial discounts for upgrades to W8 but I believe they have finished now.

        You could buy W7/8 to install on an XP PC but it may require expensive upgrades (especially RAM) to run at all well – even then it will likely be slow and have a limited hardware lifespan.

        Best option is probably to buy a PC off the shelf with Windows 7/8 already installed – but in a year’s time you may not have the choice of W7. You could of course run XP for another year – or more, it is always possible MS might relent and extend XP support further if lots of businesses still use it next April…

Comments are closed.