Microsoft To End Support For Aging XP, Vista Versions

What this means is that Microsoft will no longer offer security updates for these versions of Windows, although the operating systems will continue to function normally.

Support for Windows Vista RTM ends on April 13, and support for Windows XP SP2 and all versions of Windows 2000 ends on July 13. To continue receiving security updates, Vista RTM users will have to install Vista SP1 or SP2, while XP users will have to install XP SP3.

On July 13, Microsoft also will stop offering security updates for Windows Server 2000 and move Windows Server 2003 to extended support, which includes free security updates and online support. Support for Windows Server 2003 and for Windows Server 2003 R2 will end in July 2015.

"Microsoft believes it is important that all customers take action prior to the end of support date, not only so that they know their options and can prepare, but also to ensure their environments are as secure as possible," said Brandon LeBlanc, communications manager on the Windows Client Team, in a Thursday blog post.

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Microsoft ended mainstream support for XP last April, and extended support for XP SP3 users runs through April 2014. Mainstream support for Vista will end in October 2012, although that deadline is likely to go largely unnoticed.

For Microsoft, the XP support deadlines move the company closer to banishing XP to the mists of history. XP has been an ever-present reminder of Vista's shortcomings, as many customers have chosen to remain on the nearly nine-year platform and to give Vista a miss.

Despite the boom in Windows 7 sales that Microsoft has seen since launching the OS last October, many large enterprises are still using XP. Earlier this week, Microsoft rolled out updated deployment tools, including updated application virtualization and desktop virtualization offerings, in an effort to smooth Windows 7 migrations.