Microsoft Issues Two-Year Warning For End Of Windows XP Support

Microsoft is taking pains to remind partners and customers that support for Windows XP and Office 2003 will officially end on April 8, 2014. And while the next-generation Windows 8 is widely expected to be ready this fall, Microsoft is telling customers not to wait and upgrade now to Windows 7 and Office 2010.

"You may be asking yourself – 'should I wait to upgrade until the next versions of Windows and Office are available?' We don’t recommend waiting," wrote Stella Chernyak, a Microsoft marketing director, in a blog post Monday.

"Not only is it important for companies to complete deployment before support runs out, but they should also be aware that by upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2010 today they can gain substantial results today while laying the foundation for future versions of these products," she wrote.

[Related: Windows 8 Beta: The Good, The Bad, And The Confusing ]

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This week Microsoft also ended all free "mainstream" support for Windows Vista, meaning that Vista users will have to pay for "extended' support services, with security updates being the only exception. Extended support for Windows Vista will be discontinued in five years, ending on April 11, 2017.

It's the coming end of extended support for Windows XP that's likely to have a bigger impact than Windows Vista's discontinuation, however, given the number of customers still running that decade-old desktop operating system.

If Microsoft had been following the same support timetable as Vista, extended support for Windows XP would have ended last year. But Microsoft added three years to Windows XP extended support to give customers more time to upgrade.