Though most companies and customers should have moved on to newer versions of Microsoft (News - Alert) Office by now, any of you still using Office XP should be aware that the 10-year-old suite is about to hit the end of its product support in another week.
Specifically, Office XP Professional, Standard, and Developer will reach the end of extended support on July 12. In a nutshell, this means that Microsoft will no longer provide updates or fixes to the product, the kind that we usually see on the company’s famed “Patch Tuesdays.” So if any security flaw or other problems are found in Office XP or Office in general, users of the XP version will be out of luck.
Microsoft typically offers a 10-year support cycle for Office and other products. The first five years cover Mainstream support, during which Microsoft addresses security flaws and other critical problems, feedback on design issues, and escalations related to specific functions. After those five years are up, Microsoft kicks in an additional five years of Extended support, during which the company will update the software to fix any security holes and other critical bugs.
Again, most businesses should’ve moved on to Office 2003, 2007, or 2010 by now. However, some companies still running Windows XP may have also stuck with Office XP, which, even though it’s 10 years old now, still works.
The only limitation such companies may have run into is the change in file format. Starting with Office 2007, Microsoft modified the Office file format to one that’s XML-based, which can’t be read by Office 2003 and earlier versions, including Office XP. To work around this issue, the folks in Redmond rolled out the Office Compatibility Pack, which allows earlier versions or Office to read the XML-based file format.
But regardless of the Compatibility Pack, it’s time for any companies still running Office XP to move on. IT professionals at such companies should review Office 2010 with plans to upgrade their office suite. To help IT make the switch, Microsoft offers an Office 2010 Resource Kit online. The Resource Kit provides specific sections on how to plan for an Office 2010 deployment, how to configure and deploy Office 2010, and how to maintain and update Office 2010.
To help users review the product lifecycles and support options for Office and other products, Microsoft offers a Product Lifecycle database on its Website. Here, you can search for any Microsoft product to find out when it was launched, when Mainstream support ends, and when Extended support ends. The database is useful when considering new products, planning for product upgrades, or determining how much time you have left with your current products.
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Lance Whitney is a journalist, IT consultant, and Web Developer with almost 20 years of experience in the IT world. To read more of Lance's articles, please visit his columnist page
Edited by Jennifer Russell