Time is near for older editions of Windows that have run their course to bow out and leave the stage to the latest versions of the platform, Windows 7
. It is the natural evolution course for all Microsoft software products, outlined in detail on in the company’s Support Lifecycle Policy. Next to go will be the release of Windows XP which established the operating system’s dominance on the OS market for the vast majority of the past decade, and the Windows Vista version which contributed to enabling XP’s dominance to endure. Both Windows variants will reach the End of Support milestone
Windows Vista RTM was ostracized long ago, a process started even before the operating system was launched, but which only found additional fuel after the January 2007 General Availability deadline. Few will be those shedding a tear for the successor of XP, which was extensively criticized for being inferior to the OS it was designed to replace, especially in terms of device driver support, software compatibility and performance. April 13th, 2010, will bring with it the End of Support for Windows Vista RTM, namely the original release of the OS with no service packs installed.
But parting ways with Windows XP Service Pack 2 is a whole different matter altogether. SP2 took Windows XP to a stage in the operating system’s evolution which many, including Microsoft’s own, saw as equivalent to the release of a new Windows client. Light years away from XP RTM or XP SP1, SP2 made XP the ubiquitous OS that it still is today. On July 13th, 2010, Windows XP SP2 will also reach the End of Support milestone. XP will be accompanied by Windows 2000.
“All editions of Windows 2000 will reach the end of the Extended Support phase on July 13, 2010. This will be the end of support for Windows 2000,” revealed Jared Proudfoot
, Group program manager, Microsoft Support Lifecycle. “Windows Server 2003 will also undergo a support transition later this year. On July 13, 2010 all editions of Windows Server 2003 will be moving from the Mainstream Support phase to the Extended Support phase.” What does End of Support mean?
What is critical to underline is the fact that all unsupported version of Windows are no longer served software updates via Windows Update. The highest impact is associated with the lack of security updates. Microsoft, as do all members of the software industry, constantly update their products with fixes designed to resolve security vulnerabilities. Without security updates, Windows operating systems become exposed to exploits targeting security flaws, which will allow attackers to potentially gain control of an affected system and to execute code remotely. In addition, Microsoft also uses Windows Update in order to deliver the latest software updates for reliability, stability, performance, application compatibility, hardware drivers support, etc. End of Support means that Windows will be effectively stuck in the same place, and will no longer evolve in the least.
“As you may recall, at the end of the Extended Support phase, Business & Developer products are no longer publicly supported, although Self-Help Online support (such as Microsoft online Knowledge Base articles, FAQs, troubleshooting tools, and other resources) will be available for a minimum of 12 months after the product reaches the end of its support. This means that there is no more paid support, no support assistance and no further security updates. Due to this, customers are highly encouraged to move to a supported product as soon as possible,” Proudfoot stated.
End of Support is not equivalent with the death of Windows, for either XP or Vista. Both operating systems will continue to run under normal parameters for as long as the customer desires. Still, XP and Vista users that will decide to stick with their current versions of the platforms will no longer be protected against new exploits/attacks released, and in addition, will find that in the future they won’t be able to install and run new versions of software or the latest hardware products made available, as developers and manufacturers will also no longer support XP SP2 and Vista RTM.
“Keeping your PC up to date and as safe as possible is something that people need to think about beyond just being on the latest service pack. I want to remind everyone of the benefits of keeping Windows Update turned on. Through Windows Update, not only are you provided with the latest security updates and service packs for Windows at no cost, but also the latest updates to products such as Internet Explorer 8 and Microsoft Security Essentials,” said Brandon LeBlanc
, Windows Communications manager on the Windows Client Communications Team. The solution? Upgrade!
Windows XP SP2 & Windows 2000 - It’s not recommended, even in the least, for XP SP2 customers to continue running their current operating system. The obvious solution involves upgrading to Windows 7, as the latest iteration of Windows offers a superior user experience. However, in the context in which jumping to Windows 7 is not possible, for various reasons, customers should at least upgrade to XP SP3. As is the case for all Microsoft service packs, XP SP3 is available for download free of charge
. The same is valid for Windows 2000 users, who also need to make the jump at least to XP SP3, although Windows 7 is the best choice. Windows XP SP3 will be supported until 2014.
Windows Vista RTM – Users of this particular version of Vista have the least amount of time available to upgrade. While SP1 continues to be a valid choice, customers need to consider upgrading to SP2 instead
. Particularly since deploying SP2 actually requires deploying SP1 beforehand. Of course, as is the case for XP SP2 and Windows 2000, users might find that the best solution would be to embrace Windows 7. For both XP and Vista customers, Microsoft is offering the Upgrade Advisor, a piece of software designed to assess computers for their readiness in terms of accommodating Windows 7.
Windows 2000 – “Those enterprise customers who are unable to complete their migration to a supported product before July 13, 2010 may also want to consider the Custom Support program. Custom Support provides customers with the opportunity to receive support on legacy versions of some Microsoft products and service packs that have reached the end of support. This program may help fill the gap for customers who are actively migrating, but will not be able to finish prior to the end of support deadline. For additional details on Custom Support, please contact your local Microsoft representative or Technical Account Manager,” Proudfoot stated.
Windows 2003 - “For most of our customers, this transition change will not have a significant impact on their environment. The key differences between the Mainstream Support phase and Extended Support phase are that the “no-charge” support options are no longer available and that we no longer provide new non-security hotfixes. This means that customers will need to open paid support cases (such as Premier, Pro or Pay-Per-Incident cases) to obtain support for their product,” Proudfoot noted. “For those customers who need non-security hotfixes during the Extended Support phase, a special program called Extended Hotfix Support is available. If you want the insurance of being enrolled in Extended Hotfix Support, please contact your local Microsoft representative or Technical Account Manager as soon as possible. Enrollment in the program must occur within the first 90 days after the end of the Mainstream Support phase, so you’ll want to consider this soon.”
Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) Final is available for download here
Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 - Five Language Standalone (KB948465) is available for download here
Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2 and Windows Vista Service Pack 2 - Five Language Standalone for x64-based systems (KB948465) is available for download here
Microsoft Windows 7 90-Day Eval VHD is available for download here
Another Windows 7 RTM Enterprise 90-Day Evaluation is available for download here
. Windows 7 RTM Starter Edition, 100-Screenshot Gallery Windows 7 RTM Home Basic 110-Screenshot Gallery Windows 7 RTM Home Premium 120-Screenshot Gallery Windows 7 RTM Professional 110-Screenshot Gallery Windows 7 RTM Enterprise 100-Screenshot Gallery