With the April 8, 2014, support expiration looming, Microsoft has stepped up its efforts to convert holdout Windows XP users to a more modern Windows version. This time, the firm is offering some advice about what will happen to those PCs still running XP—and Office 2003—after that deadline hits.
"A decade later, times and technology have evolved," Microsoft Marketing Director Jay Paulus writes in the firm's Fire Hose blog. "Windows XP and Office 2003 weren't designed for the world we live in today, where technology is increasingly mobile and we have services such as OneDrive, which give us access to our files wherever we are, not to mention the new generation of devices and the always-on Microsoft ."
Noting that most Microsoft (business) software is supported for 10 years, the firm reminds us that XP was released in October 2001, which is over 12 years ago. So XP has been supported "since Baywatch went off the air." Let's observe a moment of silence on both counts.
So what happens after April 8, 2014?
Curiously, we won't experience the zombie apocalypse, at least not the one chronicled in The Walking Dead (to channel, ahem, another TV show). No, PCs running XP and Office 2003 won't stop working, Microsoft admits. But security and performance will both get worse over time because, "without critical security updates, PCs might become vulnerable to harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal or damage personal information and business data."
Somewhat artificially, newer applications—such as Office 365 and OneDrive—won't run on the aging OS. This means that you won't be able to access all of your documents and tools from virtually any location and nearly any device, as is possible with more modern systems.
To overcome both of these issues, Microsoft recommends—wait for it—upgrading to a new Windows 8.1-based PC or tablet running Office 365. XP is "five times" more susceptible to electronic attack than is Windows 8.1, Microsoft says, and upgrading from Office 2003 to an Office 365 subscription provides both "substantially improved security" and a decade's worth of functional improvements. Office 365 also provides "low upfront costs and lower ongoing IT costs," Microsoft notes.
"Windows 8 and Office 365 are great for businesses because they are designed to deliver the experiences employees want and the enterprise-grade capabilities businesses need," Paulus says. "With an ever-increasing lineup of devices, there is a device to fit the specific needs of any size business. You can choose the device that is right for your company—whether it be a touch device or using a mouse and keyboard—and have a great Windows 8 and Office 365 experience."
Six weeks to go, folks.