The end is near.
That was the message from Microsoft as it reminded consumers that its support for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will end on April 8, 2014. According to Microsoft marketing director Stella Chernyak that means the software giant will nix security updates, non-security hot-fixes and technical support after that date. So let the countdown begin. You now have less than two years to get your affairs in order and hightail it to more current software.
Chernyak commented in a blog post that "Windows XP and Office 2003 were great software releases in their time, but the technology environment has shifted. Technology continues to evolve and so do people's needs and expectations."
This should come as no surprise, since the announcement is consistent with Microsoft's 2002 support lifestyle policy that offers a minimum of 10 years of support (at least five years of mainstream support and five additional years of extended support). But there's a large amount of users still using XP up to SP3, and not everyone will be happy about having to upgrade. Enterprise deployment can take anywhere between 18 to 32 months from business case through full deployment, so those who want to stick with Windows and Office should begin planning, well, now.
The company recommends switching to Windows 7 and Office 2010 rather than waiting for Windows 8. Microsoft wants to facilitate that migration and is thus offering a free download of the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. It will assist with new deployments of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2008, and Microsoft Office products.