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Support Ending on July 12 for Office XP and Vista SP1

This Tuesday July 12 is an impending day of note for IT professionals whose organizations still use Microsoft Office XP or Windows Vista Service Pack 1.

That's the day when Office XP will slip out of extended lifecycle support, a Microsoft blog noted. Also on July 12, support for SP1 for Windows Vista will end, another blog indicated. Users of both products will cease to get free security updates from Microsoft after that date if they don't migrate or upgrade the software. IT shops that don't prepare could be subject to unpatched software vulnerabilities, as well as associated security issues.

In essence, the products will lose "extended support" on July 12. Extended support is the second segment in the Microsoft product lifecycle, usually lasting about five years. The first segment of that cycle is called "mainstream support," and it also lasts about five years.

While free security update support lasts through both lifecycle segments, amounting to a total of about 10 years of support, users lose a few benefits while in the extended support phase, such as access to nonsecurity updates. During extended support, users have to establish a contract with Microsoft and pay extra to continue to get nonsecurity updates. The differences between the two support phases are shown in Microsoft's table here

Vista SP1 users who can move to Service Pack 2 will get mainstream support lasting until April 10, 2012, with extended support through April 11, 2017, according to a Windows lifecycle fact sheet. Microsoft, of course, prefers that organizations move to Windows 7, but that operating system also can be "downgraded" to an older operating system if an organization must continue to use Vista, or even Windows XP, for some reason.

The downgrade rights option for buyers of new PCs with Windows 7 is tied to the Windows 7 sales lifecycle, as described in this blog

"To support customers moving to Windows 7 more quickly, downgrade rights to the Windows XP Professional operating system have been extended through the Windows 7 sales life cycle, which is up to two years after the next version of Windows is released," the blog explains. "As a result, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) versions of Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Ultimate will continue to include downgrade rights to similar versions of Windows Vista or Windows XP Professional. Businesses can continue to purchase new PCs with Windows 7 and utilize downgrade rights to Windows XP or Windows Vista until they are ready to use Windows 7."

As for Office XP, it's a decade-old productivity suite that was perhaps most notable for getting rid of "Clippy," the much reviled cartoon help character that popped up as users accessed software features. Office XP also let users see paragraph tags through its "reveal formatting" feature. If users can't move off Office XP, they can apply for "custom support" through the Microsoft Services premier support offering. Custom support is also an option for Vista SP1 users.

Microsoft makes some distinctions between support offered to consumers and support offered to organizations. Those seeking out product lifecycle support nuances can find many details in this Microsoft policy FAQ.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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