Today marks the start of the 1-year countdown of when we stop supporting Windows XP. Many of you saw the post this morning on the Windows For Your Businessblog. Over the past few months I have gotten a lot of questions on what that means exactly. Here are some answers to help explain what end of support is and what you need to do to move to a modern OS like Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Microsoft will end Extended Support on April 8, 2014. Why?
In 2002, Microsoft introduced its Support Lifecycle policy based on customer feedback to have more transparency and predictability of support for Microsoft products. Per this policy, Microsoft Business and Developer products – including Windows and Office products – receive a minimum of 10 years of support (five years Mainstream Support and five years Extended Support), at the supported service pack level. Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will go out of support on April 8, 2014. If your organization has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late. Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment. To ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office, you should begin your planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support.
Think of mainstream support as “full”. In other words, mainstream support means Microsoft supports a product with its full offerings including paid incident support, hotfix support, security updates, etc. This support for Windows XP ended in April of 2009.
When a product enters the extended support “phase”, the game changes:
- Extended support is only available for commercial customers
- We still provide security updates at no charge to all customers
On April 8, 2014, we will end the extended support for our commercial customers and we will no longer provide security updates for commercial or consumer customers.
What does End of Support mean to customers?
Simply, it means you should take action to move off of Windows XP. After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates. 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) & Hardware Manufacturers support: Back in 2011, many independent software vendors (ISVs) were already unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP.
So no new patches after April 8th, 2014?
Microsoft will keep hosting all patches and service packs released through April of 2014, but no new updates will be released after this date.
I heard that my anti-virus software company will continue to support Windows XP after April 8, 2014. Does that mean I am protected?
No. Securing an operating system requires a multiple layers of defense and an anti-malware is just one part of the end-to-end security stack. When EOS for Windows XP occurs on April 8, 2014 and Windows is no longer being serviced, the system and any anti-malware solutions deployed to it will no longer be able to protect the device, user and data against new and emerging threats. Vulnerabilities that are discovered in Windows XP or possibly even applications running on it will remain unpatched and many types of malware will be able to take permanent residence within devices. This can occur even if the device is running an up to date anti-malware solution. Based on this, it’s critical that organizations and consumers migrate to a modern operating system.
What is a “modern operating system”?
A modern OS refers to Windows 7 and Windows 8 as well as a modern browser like IE 8, 9 and 10. These are hardened, secure operating systems built to support users’ needs around security, mobility and overall flexibility. Windows 7 and Windows 8 offer users a great experience while reducing costs and increasing IT manageability.
Can’t I just upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8?
No. You will need to do a clean install. This means you will need to migrate the users’ data and reinstall or repackage all their applications for the new OS. This will take some time to test all of the hardware, peripherals and applications to ensure they will work with Windows 7 or Windows 8. I have listed some free tools at the end of this post to help with all of those areas.
What if I choose to stay on Windows XP and not migrate?
Using XP after April 2014 is an “at your own risk” situation for any customers choosing not to migrate.
How long has Windows XP been around?
Microsoft will have supported Windows XP for nearly 12 years next April.
Are there good financial reasons to leave XP?
According to IDC: *
- Over a three-year timespan, organizations that make the move to a modern OS will see a 137% return on investment.
- When taking into account the time needed to manage XP systems relating to items such as downtime, malware, and other maintenance, Windows 7 increases productivity by up to 7.8 additional hours per year per worker.
- Annual costs on maintenance for systems running Windows 7 compared to XP drop by a massive $700/year.
I have never done application compatibility testing or deployed an operating system. Where do I start?
First of all, start by downloading the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT). It removes the need for disc imaging, migrates your data in place during deployment, and (best of all) it’s free.
Here are some other tools to help make your move from easier:
- Download the Windows 8 Enterprise Evaluation to start to test your applications.
- Check out the features in Windows 8, get answers to frequently asked questions, see videos on key features or watch some video training to prepare yourself here.
- Learn how to create an application inventory, assess compatibility, explore deployment options, and learn how to prepare for deployment here.
- Considering virtualization options? Learn about Client Hyper-V, App-V and more here.
- Ready to Implement security and control measures? Click here.
- Automating the Migration from Windows XP to Windows 7 End-to-End
- Migrating User Files and Settings from Windows XP to Windows 7
- Windows XP to Windows 7 Migration Guide
- Windows Application Compatibility List for IT Professionals (check the Windows compatibility status of more than 27,000 applications)
- Video: Windows XP to Windows 7 Migration Using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010
Still need more information?
Enterprise Decision Makers should visit the Windows Enterprise site to learn about other customers who have moved to a modern OS and to see the cost savings in moving to Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 8 Enterprise.
Small Business should go to the Small Business Zone to learn how Windows 8 Pro can be a great fit for your organization.
* Source: Mitigating Risk: Why Sticking with Windows XP is a Bad Idea (IDC/Microsoft White Paper), Al Gillen, May 2012
Updated November 8, 2014 1:46 am