Microsoft retires support for various older products in 2014 and 2015. This means there will be no more free updates or security patches. While it’s a common occurrence to see support for older products retired by software vendors, it’s annoying if either the old stuff is still running perfectly well or if the upgrade option is financially onerous, will significantly disrupt the business or offers little in the way of real added benefit.

So in April we’ll be finally bidding farewell to support for the likes of Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange Server 2003, and in July 2015 we’ll say adieu to support for Windows Server 2003. In addition, some more recent products will be transitioning to extended support in July 2014 – namely SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 – which puts them next on the path to software heaven.

Windows XP

On April 8, 2014, Windows XP will reach the end of its support lifecycle and Microsoft will no longer provide security or online updates.

Office 2003

As a part of the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy, Office 2003 products receive five years of Mainstream Support and five years of Extended Support. April 8, 2014 marks the end of this 10-year support period. Running Office 2003 after the end-of-support date may expose your company to security risks and technology limitations. 

Exchange Server 2003 
While Exchange Server 2003 was a leader in the messaging space, after 10 years of technology progression it will reach End of Support effective April 8, 2014.

Windows Server 2003 
On July 14th 2015, security patches and hotfixes for all versions of Windows Server 2003 will no longer be available. PCs running Windows Server 2003 will be vulnerable to security threats. Many third-party software providers are not planning to extend support for their applications running on Windows Server 2003, meaning more complexity, security risks, and added management costs for your IT department.

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 
SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 are approaching the end of mainstream support and will enter Extended Support on July 8, 2014. The key difference between Mainstream Support and Extended Support is that non-security hotfixes and “free” or “in–the-box” support options are no longer available during Extended Support. 

It’s a compliance and compatibility risk to continue running un-supported products. In addition hackers love to pounce on old un-supported versions; they know any remaining security flaws will now never be patched. So if you are planning to continue running these old orphans, then make sure you protect them behind strong firewalls or even disconnect them from your network or the internet. Another solution could be to engage an XP security option such as that provided by Arkoon which is promising a degree of protection that's similar to the kind of patch support that will disappear after April 8.

If you are planning to upgrade or replace XP, then it’s high time you got some proposals priced up by Microsoft or your Microsoft Reseller. But remember the old adage: you should never buy in a rush as you will only repent at your leisure. So evaluate your licensing options thoroughly and then negotiate the upgrade deal robustly. Even though the clock is ticking, you can still make sound choices and negotiate good deals; especially if you take advice from independent licensing and negotiation experts such as Forrester. Contact me if you have got stuck in a rut trying to negotiate a sensible deal with Microsoft.