The countdown for Windows XP is about to get serious. In one year, Microsoft officially stops supporting XP. What happens when the clock runs out? And how long until your current version of Windows or Office suffers the same fate?
When Microsoft officially ends its support. XP lived longer than any version of Windows ever, getting multiple extensions on its retirement date to placate customers who said no to Vista. But April 2014 is the end of the road.
XP will not get a last-minute reprieve.
Let me say that again, in boldface this time: Microsoft will not extend the support deadline for XP. If you’re still relying on XP, you should have a plan to switch to a supported platform, whether it’s from Microsoft or someone else.
April 8, 2014 is a deadline, not a death sentence. PCs running XP will not stop working when the clock runs out. In fact, XP diehards won’t notice anything different except an eerie quiet on Patch Tuesday. Newer Windows versions, including Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, will continue to get security patches and bug fixes via Windows Update, but not XP. When the extended support period ends, so do those updates.
None of this should be a surprise. Microsoft has a well-established support lifecycle for its software products. It’s basically an agreement that the company makes with everyone who commits to Windows. The terms of that agreement don’t change often, which is an important assurance for business customers who tend to be conservative in their approach to upgrades.
Microsoft provides at least five years of mainstream support, followed by another five years of extended support. Generally, “supported” means you have access to at least one type of assisted support option (possibly paid) and no-charge security updates through channels like Windows Update and the Download Center. (There’s an exhaustive FAQ if you want to dig deeper into this stuff.)
To find the end-of-support date for any Microsoft product, use the Microsoft Product Lifecycle Search page, the product family index, or the full A-Z product index to get the official answer. When you find the entry for a specific product, you can see the general availability date, the retirement dates for mainstream and extended support, and retirement dates for service packs.