Required Microsoft Updates

Over the course of the next 2 years, many of our favorite applications need to be upgraded as they go end-of-life at Microsoft.  We’re giving you a heads-up now to help you plan and budget, as this may represent a significant cost for your organization.  Below is a list of the applications that need to be upgraded and a few notes on what needs to be done.  All of these applications need to be replaced before April 8th of 2014.

Office 2003:  Office can easily be upgraded to Office 2007 or 2010.   All of the same functionality is there.  Please be sure and evaluate all PC’s that have 2003, as Office 2003 is sometimes installed on servers as well as PC’s.  A new license will be required to replace each instance of Office 2003.

Windows XP: PC’s running Windows XP will need to be upgraded to Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate, or replaced with a new PC.  Upgrading the version of Windows on the same PC requires a fresh install of Windows 7, wiping out everything including applications, files, media, possibly email, etc.; These will need to be backed up, reinstalled and restored.  Also, if you upgrade to Windows 7 on the same PC, you may need more RAM and a bigger hard disk.

Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 R2:  This will be a challenging upgrade for any organization, as the hardware for the server will certainly need to be replaced.   All applications installed on your server will need to be re-installed, probably with newer versions.   If the server is running domain applications such as DNS, DHCP and Active Directory, then this will be a significant project.

Exchange 2003:  If your organization uses an on-site Exchange 2003 server, then this needs to be completely replaced.   The hardware for the server, the operating system, and the version of Exchange will all need major upgrades.  This is a significant project.    Most organizations should consider hosted Exchange before committing to an on-site Exchange upgrade.

Small Business Server 2003 (SBS 2003):  If you have an on-site SBS 2003 server, then you have Windows Server 2003, Exchange 2003, and other internal components that are all going end-of-life.   SBS 2003 must be completely replaced.   The hardware and the operating system need to be replaced.   The latest SBS 2011 comes in 2 major versions, one that works with hosted Exchange and one that works with onsite Exchange.   Most organizations should consider hosted Exchange as part of planning for the SBS upgrade.

 If we haven’t listed a product above, then it’s not going end-of-life and its fine!

Why do I care about this now?  There are two big reasons to start addressing this now.  First of all, this may represent a significant cost for your organization and we would like you to review this with your IT team as soon as possible.  Second, we feel this will become a major issue in 2013 due to the number of companies needing these upgrades.  Therefore, the discounts and package deals you may expect to receive may be difficult to obtain.

What is the risk?  Unfortunately, the upgrades are mandatory, since Microsoft will no longer patch these applications against viruses.   In past experience with Windows 2000, it only took 2 months past the end-of-life date before a virus was released.  In today’s world, we are assuming that the viruses will be released within hours or days at most.   Since Microsoft will no longer be patching these applications, a new virus will continuously re-infect the PC or server, and an antivirus program will continuously clean it up.

Just how big of a deal is this?  We are contacting you because this is a very big deal for your organization, for Microsoft, and for your IT support team.   Microsoft has taken the unprecedented step of putting a large, bold banner discussing this issue at the stop of every page of their support web site.

What else should I consider? With these new upgrades, it may be time to consider upgrading other hardware and applications.  When planning and budgeting for those required upgrades, consider your router, hubs, wiring, and other networking components.  The newer PC’s and operating systems can take advantage of improved performance and network speeds.  Also, consider your current back up and archiving solutions to take advantage of integration with new hardware purchases or hosted applications.