As most companies and consumers have known for quite some time, Microsoft® will terminate support and update activities for Windows® XP and Office® 2003 on April 8, 2014. Windows® XP became available during 2001, and it has been used by hundreds of millions of users and by some estimates, still commands a greater than 25% global market share. Part of the reason for its longevity is the less than stellar reaction to Windows® Vista, but XP was also popular because it simply worked as advertised and many users didn’t feel compelled to upgrade. Now we have no choice.

 

This isn’t a case of recommended upgrading but in many cases, it’s a mandate. Windows® XP won’t stop working after April 8, but XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft®. On January 15, Microsoft® announced that they will provide antimalware support until July 14, 2014, but the wise course of action would be to upgrade before April 8 if you haven’t already done so. We have grown accustomed to regular updates until now and most have been quite effective, but logic would suggest that those with malicious intent will increase their efforts when they know MS is no longer defending against them.

 

In addition to the increased software vulnerabilities, any company performing credit card transactions and is governed by PCI (Payment Card Industry) regulations will be out of compliance when XP is retired. In a similar manner, companies bound by HIPPA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and countless other regulatory agencies requiring data or privacy protection will be in violation of their obligations and subject to severe penalties if they continue to use XP or Office® 2003 after April 8.

 

This raises the question of which newer version of Windows® may be best for your needs today and in the future. If you haven’t upgraded from XP to Vista by now it seems unlikely that will be the option, so that leaves Windows® 7 or Windows® 8. As we have addressed here on numerous occasions, Windows® 8 is primarily intended to utilize touch enabled devices and may not by the best choice unless you intend to make a significant investment in new hardware. If you enter into a new Volume Licensing Agreement or are renewing your present agreement you will be required to license Windows® 8.1, but you may exercise downgrade rights if version 8.1 is inappropriate for the needs of your organization.

 

Downgrade rights are granted with all system software licenses acquired through Microsoft’s® Volume Licensing programs. It’s important to note, however, that you may only downgrade to the same “edition” of the product. Product “editions” refer to different (or added) functionality of the product within the same version such as Enterprise or Professional editions.

 

Windows® licenses acquired with the purchase of hardware may also be downgraded under the terms of the OEM License Agreement. Windows® Full Packaged Product (FPP) is not eligible for downgrading.

 

Version Downgrade to:

OEM Preinstall

Volume Licensing

Volume Licensing

 

Windows® 8.1 Pro

Windows® 8.1 Pro Upgrade (without SA)

Windows® 8.1 Enterprise (with SA)

Windows® 8 Enterprise  

X

Windows® 8 Professional 

X

X

Windows® 7 Enterprise  

X

Windows® 7 Professional

X

X

X

Windows® Vista Enterprise  

X

Windows® Vista Business

X

X

X

 

Office® 2003 will also cease to be supported on April 8, 2014 so users of this product face the same situation as those using Windows® XP. As with system software, applications acquired through Volume Licensing may also be downgraded, however OEM and FPP versions may not. Once again, new or renewal VL Agreements will have to license the latest version before downgrading, which is Office® 2013.

 

Version Downgrade to:

                Volume

Licensing
 

Office® Professional Plus 2013

Office® Standard 2013

Office® Professional Plus 2010

X

 
Office® Professional Plus 2007

X

 
Office® Standard 2010 

X

Office® Standard 2007 

X

 

Technically, downgrade rights extend beyond Windows® Vista and Office® 2007 to earlier versions, including Office® 2003 and Windows® XP. While your Microsoft® license allows you to use older versions, they are not supported by MS and you would be out of compliance with the regulatory agencies that require you to upgrade from Windows® XP and Office® 2003 before April 8.

 

You may contact your Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) to obtain download access to Windows® or Office®. Physical media (CD/DVD) may be obtained from your Microsoft® Reseller.

Nov 2016