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Microsoft Will End Vista SP1, Office XP Support on July 12

Microsoft Office XP will lose its extended lifecycle support next Tuesday, July 12, one Microsoft blog warned. Also on July 12, support for Windows Vista SP1 will expire, according to another blog.

Unless these products' users migrate or upgrade their software, they will no longer receive free security updates from Microsoft after July 12, putting them at risk of unpatched software vulnerabilities and associated security issues.

In essence, Office XP and Vista SP1 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," which 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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