What it really means for Office 2003 users plus a better countdown to the ‘end’ of Office 2003 and Windows XP
Microsoft has a countdown to the end of support for Office 2003 and Windows XP in months, days and hours. We could not resist making our own …
Microsoft is counting down to midnight US West Coast time on 8 April 2014.
It doesn’t mean that the software will stop working, but it does mean there’ll be no more updates for Office 2003 or Windows XP. Crucially that includes security updates.
For Office 2003 users that’s, perhaps, not a major issue. There will be security gaps in Office 2003 beyond April 2014 but hopefully they will be obscure and not widely exploited. That said, it might be a good time to consider switching to a more recent version of Office like Office 2007, Office 2010 or Office 2013 which will continue to be supported.
Office 2007, Office 2010 and Office 2013 all support the ‘old’ document formats used by Office 2003 (.doc, .xls .ppt etc.) so you can open all your existing documents. Yes, Office 2007 and later have the (still) feared and dreaded ribbon interface but you can get add-ins that have a traditional menu (but we’d urge you to try the ribbon – it’s not that bad, truly).
If you can get your hands on a legal copy of Office 2010, that will get security updates until 13 Oct 2020 – more than seven years from now. Office 2007 security updates end in ‘just’ three years (10 Oct 2017). Both Office 2007 and Office 2010 were sold as ‘one-time’ purchases with no annual rental fee.
Office 2013 is mostly pushed as an annual rental (sorry ‘subscription’).
Windows XP is another matter. There’s a lot of machines running Windows XP and it’s a major concern that those machines will become vulnerable to malicious attacks with no ongoing security patches from Microsoft. Switching to Windows 7 or Windows 8 would be a prudent step. Our book Windows 8 for Microsoft Office users, has, among many things, a section on the new Start Menu and how to avoid it entirely.
Microsoft is using the end of support to push the sales of Windows 8 and Office 365 rentals – but the offers aren’t that great.
Take this enticing headline “Get up to 20% off. Upgrade to the new Windows and Office 365” but look at the details and you’ll see it’s only for the more expensive versions – Windows 8.1 Pro and Office 365 Midsize business or ProPlus – which you may not need.
As always with Microsoft ‘offers’, look carefully before handing over your money. Very, very often there’s a cheaper option elsewhere.
Please answer your own question
Down in Australia, Microsoft doesn’t even know how to answer their own question. The equivalent of the countdown page (which is the landing page for an online advertising campaign) has different text with a headline which poses the excellent question “Why is Microsoft ending support for Windows XP and Office 2003?“. Sadly the following two paragraphs don’t even try to answer it – merely stating that support will end, but not why. Don’t they read their own web pages?