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End of the Road for Windows XP and Office 2003 and why it could affect you.

Since it’s worldwide release in October 2001, Windows XP has proved a very stable and reliable platform for PCs in millions of organisations around the world…so much so that it is viewed by many as part of the IT furniture; an old faithful comfy leather chair. Fortunately since Microsoft’s grandly named Support Lifestyle Policy as published the corporate giant has been committed to being transparent and predictable in the support of its software products, confirming that each Windows and Office product will receive a minimum of support (provided you have the latest service pack installed)…Hooray!

The problem is…time is now running out and Microsoft have confirmed that they will be ceasing support for Windows XP and Office 2003 as of 8 April 2014 (this is called Windows XP end of support). So this begs the question….

“What does this mean for my business?”

The truth is that the answer very much depends on your current IT…If you have no devices running XP or Office 2003 in your organisation because you have previously upgraded to Windows Vista, 7 or 8 and have Office 2007 or above then you do not need to do anything except sit smugly at your desk and think about the next phase of using IT to accelerate growth in your business. For the rest of us we need to start planning now:

MS End of support

What does end of support mean? In removing support for Windows XP and Office 2003, Microsoft will no longer release security updates, patches or services packs. This is significant as those that wish to exploit security flaws in Microsoft products know that as of April next year, once identified those security holes will no longer be plugged but will remain open for full exploitation.

Surely all security flaws have already been identified and fixed? Well no, XP and Office 2003 will from April next year be more enticing for hackers. In fact many believe that hackers may already be working on and discovered security flaws but are holding back until after the end of support so that they flaw will not be fixed.

Will someone else develop a patch for new security flaws? No! Not only that but it is unlikely that we will be made aware of any newly discovered flaws.

OK so here’s the plan…

  • Ensure your IT provider / department completes a full audit to ensure that all XP and Office 2003 are identified within your organisation.
  • Ensure that you or your IT provider / department confirms that all software running on your current Windows XP / Office 2003 devices is compatible with either Windows 7, 8, Office 2007, 2010 or 2013 and that the migration process is understood.
  • If you must keep an XP / Office 2003 machine to run specific software then we would recommend that you remove the machine from your network i.e. run it as a stand alone machine not connected to the internet or you virtualise Windows XP to enable the software to continue to run. These are only short term fixes and it is recommended that in the medium term you look to replace the software so that the machines can be upgraded to a supported version of Microsoft software.

If you feel that you are not in a position to be able to upgrade at this moment due to budget or time, at least you still have 5 months to plan your upgrade strategy…if Brash provide your IT services then we are already working through the plan and will contact you shortly to discuss the next steps in detail.

But, if your current IT company has not made you aware that this is happening or discussed a solution with you already you really do need to act now. We are offering all small businesses a free, THREE MINUTE DIAGNOSIS, which can be conducted over the phone by answering a few simple questions. Then we can help you identify if you do need any help or if you are already covered. But please act now because this is very imminent, very real and will may cause a serious problem for many small businesses in the UK.