In the midst of death, there's life.
April 8, 2014 is almost upon us and while some are highlighting the date as Windows XP's ride into the sunset, there's actually a LOT more going on than just that. There's at least one thing that will affect every IT Pro responsible for managing corporate computing resources. It's best to be prepared, so here's what you can expect on the second Tuesday of April 2014.
Windows XP end of support
I'd be remiss not to harp on this a bit, but honestly, I've been covering the death of Windows XP pretty heavily for the last year. This date marks the end of public support for the 13 year old operating system from Microsoft. No more security patches, no more updates.
Microsoft Office 2003 end of support
While Windows XP tends to get the most fanfare, yes, Microsoft support for Office 2003 is also coming to an end. Office 2003 is just two years younger that Windows XP, but has lived a full life. Office tends to not get the same priority as Windows XP because many companies upgraded to newer versions long ago. Those that are still using Office 2003 are most likely also running Windows XP. Go figure.
Exchange 2003 end of support
According to the Lifecycle report, extended support for Exchange 2003 (Enterprise and Standard) ends on April 8, 2014. There are options for Exchange 2003 users, but they all involve migration. Migrating to Exchange 2013 is actually a two-step process, but users can migrate to Exchange 2007 and hang out there for a brief period (extended support ends in 2017). Or, for those interested, Exchange Online offers a single-step, on-premises to Cloud migration.
Windows 8.1 Update 1 (or, as Microsoft calls it, just Windows 8.1 Update) releases
Microsoft's move to adjust Windows 8 to better serve regular PC users with tantalizing new keyboarding and mouse features comes in Windows 8.1's first update. We covered this a bunch, but it's worth mentioning again, since Microsoft is hoping those Windows XP holdouts will find the improvements in Windows 8.1 Update 1 to be compelling enough to upgrade to Microsoft's latest OS offering. Many companies are choosing Windows 7 instead, primarily because, in essence, Windows 7 still works fundamentally the same as Windows XP. Of course, that relates to less pain for end-users attempting to learn a new system. Still, the Windows 8 interface is the future, and if PC users want to stick with Windows (and Microsoft), they'll need to learn it eventually.
To top the busy day off, April 8 also represents Microsoft regularly scheduled public security releases, with the most important releases being the very last public patches that will ever be available for Windows XP and Office 2003.