How can organizations cope with Microsoft end of life product lifecycle?

Sonal Desai
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Suresh Ramani Techgyan

MUMBAI, INDIA: As a Technology Consultant , I work with mainly small and mid-size companies with less than 500 users of IT, and am seeing increasing demand for solutions around social, mobility, analytics and cloud , popularly called as SMAC. In most of the companies, the Platform software in use is mainly Microsoft, whether it is Desktop Windows or Windows Server or MS Office.


The last 12 months have been quite interesting for Microsoft especially since some of their most widely used software have either become end of life (EoL) or will soon join that category.

Consider the facts:

Windows XP became EOL on April 8, 2014

Office 2003 and Exchange 2003 were also EOL on April 8, 2014Windows Server 2003 will be EOL on July 14, 2015


Understanding the Microsoft product lifecycle:

Microsoft has a 10 year product support lifecycle. It means that it will end support to its products once they are 10 years old, and will no longer publish critical security updates to these products. So what will happen if security updates are not published? This is what can happen:

1.  Any new vulnerability which is discovered will not be patched making unpatched systems open to attack.

2. Many software and hardware Vendors will not support their products on EOL products especially since they will no longer get any support from Microsoft in case of any issues.

3. Chances of business disruption will increase.

Fact finding:

According to many analysts, a majority of the users will not upgrade their systems which are End Of Life. They believe that most of the people using Windows XP have continued to use XP. And they also claim that the scenario will repeat with the users of Windows Server 2003.


Let’s find out if they are correct. In March 2013, the market share of Windows XP was 40 percent. And in March 2015, this has dropped to 16 percent. I leave it to you to draw your conclusions.

Okay, so 16 percent is still a large number. And why has this segment not upgraded? I think it’s a question of the right Education. These customers have not been given the facts which would convince them to upgrade.

The road ahead for customers and partners:

One argument of the customers not wanting to upgrade from EOL systems is that they see little value in the upgrade and they feel that the unpatched systems are reasonably safe.


It is here that the partners should play a more active role and explain to the customers the need to upgrade. One argument that we give to our customers is that 10 years ago when the software was released, the threat landscape was very different. So there was no way that the 10 year old software can offer the right security as the threat vector has undergone a drastic change.

Another argument which we give is that the new software comes with many additional features which will enhance the productivity and thus more than make up for the additional cost involved. So it is a combination of security plus productivity.

And partners should note that the level of support required for EOL systems is much more. So it is imperative that they ensure that their customers do not use EOL products.


For Windows XP users, we have created many resources on the advantages of upgrading to Windows 8.1. You can refer to the details on my website. But here’s a hint; we have tried to provide answers to the following questions:

Why should you Upgrade?

The Migration and Deployment process of Windows 8.1

Different versions of Windows Server 2012

Benefits of Windows Server Essentials 2012

Migration Planning Assistant for Windows Server 2003

Training videos on Windows Server 2012

I do hope that the customers and partners will ensure that they do not use the EOL products and put their IT Infrastructure to risk.

The article is authored by Suresh Ramani, CMD, Techgyan, and the opinions expressed are his

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