Microsoft will be withdrawing support for the Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 software suite from 8 April 2014. Find out what this means for your business.

XP Retirement - Air IT support

Windows XP in particular is still extremely popular as around 30% of the world’s one billion computers are believed to be running it, with only Windows 7 having more users.

This article tells you all you need to know about the retirement of Windows XP and Office 2003 – including the risks of not upgrading and the benefits on investing in new technology – and explains Air-IT’s role in helping your business manage these changes successfully.

It may all sound a bit daunting but don’t worry. Air-IT is committed to helping your business achieve its potential by implementing the right technology for your needs, whether you’re new to us or you’re an existing client. We’re here to advise you on choosing a new operating system and/or Office software, and guide you through every step of the upgrade process.

Why is Microsoft Withdrawing Support?

Windows XP and Office 2003 logos - Air IT supportMany businesses are still happily running Windows XP; after all, the operating system has done a great job for over a decade. But it’s now two generations behind the latest Microsoft technology and before long, it will be left even further behind.

Microsoft have a policy of only supporting their products for 10 years (and this has already been extended for XP, which was launched in 2001) so the time has come for Windows XP and Office 2003 to be retired so Microsoft can focus on their newer technologies.

Therefore, if your business is still running Windows XP and/or Office 2003, it’s crucial that you upgrade to new technology before the end of life date on 8 April 2014.

The Risks of Not Upgrading

If you’re thinking about keeping your existing systems, there are some potentially serious consequences that you need to know about. These include:

Security

The main risk to your business of sticking with these systems after 8 April is security. As unsupported products, Microsoft won’t be releasing any more product updates, security patches, bug fixes or online technical updates for either Windows XP or Office 2003.

And whilst Microsoft has recently agreed to extend its anti-malware signatures until July 2015, which will help you identify viruses, trojans and cyber-attacks, the company is still recommending that users switch to another operating system as soon as possible.

In fact, Windows XP’s security features are already out-dated as it can’t support the latest versions of Internet Explorer, which offer a much safer web browsing experience than IE 8 and earlier. This means that even if you have other security systems such as anti-virus in place, they won’t offer the same protection once Windows XP is unsupported – leaving your business potentially exposed to viruses, malware, malicious attacks from hackers, and data theft.

So if you don’t upgrade your business systems before the cut-off date, you will effectively be operating at your own risk when it comes to data security.

Compliance

On top of security threats, you may also encounter compliance issues if you decide to keep using Office 2003. Using unsupported software may lead to your company being considered as unable to maintain its IT infrastructure and protect its customer data in line with current regulations. And if your business is officially recognised as non-compliant, your certifications could be withdrawn and the information made public – to the detriment of your reputation.

IT Support Issues

Of course, if you really want to stick with Windows XP and/or Office 2003, rest assured that Air-IT will do everything we can to support you and keep your systems in good health. But please be aware that, after 8 April 2014, any problems will be harder and slower to fix without official support from Microsoft. And you’ll probably find that your IT systems’ performance starts to decline, impacting on your business efficiency and staff productivity.

Software Vendors may Withdraw Support

Once support for Windows XP and Office 2003 has come to an end, it’s likely that other technology vendors will also withdraw their support for products that work alongside these systems. For example, Sophos have already announced that their Endpoint Security and Control system will no longer support Windows XP Service Pack 1 and 1a after 30 April 2014. Many other vendors will probably follow suit.

So unless you upgrade to a new operating system that is supported by your technology vendors, your business could run into significant problems if you keep running Windows XP. And if you’re still using Internet Explorer 8, you could have issues browsing the web, too. Many websites already contain features that won’t display in IE 8 and Microsoft will shortly be withdrawing support for this software as well.

The Benefits of Upgrading

The good news is that there are lots of advantages to your business in choosing a new operating system, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8, and upgrading to Office 2013 or even the cloud based Office 365.

Download our data sheet on the benefits of upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7 Professional.

For a start, you’re sure to notice an immediate increase in business efficiency and staff productivity, as your systems will perform better and run faster. Upgrading your systems also opens the door to cutting-edge IT technology, enabling your business to take advantage of advances such as server virtualisation and cloud solutions, plus state of the art web browsing and security systems.

windows 7 and 8 logos - Air IT support

What’s more, a 2012 study by market intelligence firm IDC study has suggested that switching to modern technology and the associated reduction in downtime is likely to increase staff satisfaction levels within your business.

Other key benefits include:

  • Increased system resilience and protection against viruses, malware and attack
  • Better access to flexible and mobile working, facilitating employee collaboration
  • Improved management and integration of your IT environment, including laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Future-proofing your business – investing in new technologies now will help pave the way for continued success going forward
  • Preserving and even enhancing your company’s reputation
  • Ensuring compliance with relevant legal requirements, e.g. Data Protection
  • Continued support from your chosen IT vendors such as anti-virus providers
  • Potential savings on IT maintenance costs as you’ll be running newer technology

Upgrading with Air-IT

At Air-IT, our aim is to help your business to achieve a successful transition from Windows XP and/or Office 2003 to new systems and technology. And it’s not just about our existing clients – we’re on hand to assist any SME or larger enterprise in the Nottingham, Derby and Leicester areas who needs our help.

As experienced and accredited Microsoft Partners, Air-IT have the knowledge and expertise help you choose the right Windows operating system and Office software suite for your business size and type, and that will help you achieve your growth plans and business objectives. Our fully-qualified technicians will then guide you through the upgrade process, taking care to make the transition as seamless and trouble-free as possible.

As a fully managed IT provider, we can also maintain and support your entire network, either on an ad hoc basis or through one of our popular IT support packages.

Act Now – Ask Air-IT to Help

If you’re still using Windows XP and/or Office 2003, we strongly recommend that you contact Air-IT today so we can start planning your move to either Windows 7 or 8, and/or Office 2013 or Office 365. By upgrading sooner rather than later, you can avoid disruption and keep your business running smoothly, so it’s important to take action now.

Contact us Today

Please contact Air-IT to discuss your upgrade requirements and to find out more about the operating system and Office software options that are available to you. We want your business to stay productive, compliant and risk free, so get in touch today so we can make the necessary changes in good time, before the cut-off date of 8 April 2014.