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It’s the end of XP, Vista and Office Support as we know it

These old pieces of software have hung around a long time, but now it’s time to say goodbye, if you know what’s good for you.

Tuesday, April 10 marks the end of "Mainstream Support" for Windows Vista, moving it to an "Extended Support" phase that lasts through April 11, 2017, and Windows XP and Office 2003 have begun their countdowns to total extinction in two more years.

By putting Vista on Extended Support, Microsoft will no longer offer free technical support, warranty claims and design fixes for its most poorly received operating system. When it goes off Extended Support, it won’t offer bug fixes, either.

RELATED: Windows XP is a Rootkit Spawning Pool

That’s now the fate facing Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Office 2003. Come April 8, 2014, Microsoft won’t offer any fixes for those two products, even for security holes.

It’s a good incentive to move to the new apps and OS, as history has shown that older operating systems out of support are the most commonly infected. In one survey, a large portion of infected computers were found to be running Windows XP SP2, for which Microsoft has ceased all support. If a hole is found, it does not get patched. That will be the case for XP SP3 in two years and Vista in another five years.

During the Extended Support phase, Vista users will still be able to get security updates and can still pay for support on a per-incident basis or per-hour.

Considering how long Microsoft is going to support these long-dead OSes, that’s not bad. There’s no excuse not to migrate to Windows 7 any more, especially with Windows 8 growing more and more unpopular the more people use it.

Given the option between Windows 7 and Windows 8, the majority seems likely to favor the former. In a survey conducted by PC World last month, half of people surveyed said that they would be unlikely to recommend the new operating system to a friend, despite praising its speed and improved browser. One blogger has taken to calling the OS “Vista 8.”

Some wags have taken to comparing Windows division President Steven Sinofsky to Steve Jobs, which I suppose was inevitable that Jobs, in his passing, would be the yardstick for a lot of executives. While I am reluctant to make such a comparison, I do hope he does something Jobs never hesitated to do: say “this is crap,” throw it out and start all over again. Jobs did this all the time and drove his people crazy, but in the end, they knew he was right.

You can’t have a beta version of your flagship product being compared to your biggest failure. The thing is, Sinofsky is known for delivering on time, come hell or high water. He knows the value of delivering on time to corporate customers, especially the ones with service contracts. So if I had to bet on scrapping or delivering as promised, I’ll go with the later. Which is a shame. I’ve made it clear I don’t plan to migrate at all, and it sounds like I’m not alone.

Forrester Research noted in January that half of all enterprises it surveyed have issued Macs to employees, a staggering amount given Apple has NO enterprise strategy at all. Unless things change radically, Windows 8 will end up helping Apple sell a whole lot more Macs. And it’s very likely Windows 7 will become the new XP and stay on the market way past its sell-by date.

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