Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows XP and Office 2003

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Just a few days ago, we posted an advisory regarding Microsoft’s impending end of support for Windows XP and Office 2003 users. Companies who don’t act before the April 8th deadline will no longer receive technical assistance, automatic fixes and security patches that can help protect their systems from serious security threats like viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal critical business data.

There’s really nothing new with Microsoft’s move. All products have lifespans. And in the case of Windows products, the lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported.

The problem we face today is that we’re now short of time and there are still significant number of Aussie companies running Windows XP and are using Office 2003 despite early warnings.

Security experts are now concerned that many companies will not heed the call to upgrade to the latest Windows products. Possibly due to the difficulty of migrating certain apps, the costly move, or just a passivity to the issue. Either way, those who’ll decide to stay put will be left exposed to possible vulnerabilities which can be and will be exploited by cybercriminals.

Keep in mind the seriousness of the issue:

  • Based on established patterns, attackers break into systems which are no longer updated to unleash exploits and wreak havoc.
  • Even before, devices running on XP already represent a significantly higher risk from a security standpoint compared to devices running Windows 7 and 8.
  • Previous patches issued by Microsoft can still be reverse-engineered by attackers, so you are never safe.
  • Old computers may not support new operating systems.
  • There are new Office file formats which Office 2003 can no longer support.
  • After the deadline, even though your system will still work, your antivirus may not. Likewise, you’ll risk having problems with the other application vendors which may no longer support unsupported Microsoft platform.

So what can a business do in the remaining short period before “the-end-of-support” happens?

  • Enlist the help of a credible IT service provider to help you with app compatibility testing, app management, and deployment.
  • Avail of your upgrade options: Windows XP can be upgraded to Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. Office 2003 can be replaced by Office 2010 or Office 2013
  • Back up files with either an external hard drive or cloud system

For everything, there’s a learning curve. But eventually you’ll get used to dealing with a new user interface and new file formats. These are part of keeping up with technology and innovation. Look at it as an opportunity to prepare your business for the future and not just a one-time task to fix a single problem.

With leading experience in IT managed services and IT outsourcing services Sydney-wide, we are helping a number of businesses transition. Contact us for assistance.