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Microsoft outlines Windows XP upgrade options

Businesses urged to ditch XP SP2 now

Enterprises with older Microsoft operating systems should be moving now to ensure that their software is as secure as possible. The software giant has warned users that Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2000 will reach their end of life at the end of July. The RTM version of Vista has already passed its End of Life, back on 13 April.

Microsoft operates a 10-year policy on operating systems before users have to move to Extended Support, it also offers three-year support on service packs. Besides the desktop operating systems, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows Server 2000 and Windows Server 2003 will all move from Mainstream Support to Extended Support at the end of July

According to Ian Moulster, Windows product manager for Microsoft UK, Vista and XP users will have several options. "They can move to XP SP3 or to a later version of Vista or they can opt for Microsoft break-fix, which is a low level support. That's not recommended as a long term solution though."

The other option, of course, is to move to the newer Windows 7 operating system but Moulster said that many organisations would not want to go down that route immediately. "We've had lots of interest in Windows 7 from users but some places might not quite be ready for it yet."

He added however, that there was some interest from companies looking to deploy the new OS within a desktop virtualisation environment. "Some companies will think it's a good time to look at the move and see it as a time to segment the user base to see which users could benefit from VDI.

Moulster stressed that users of the operating systems would still able to use the software but they wouldn't be able to get the hot fixes and updates. He expressed concern that some companies weren't totally aware of the implications of End of Life. "We changed our policies in 2004 and have spent a lot of effort since then making it clear. We hope it's clear but we still find users unaware of the consequences of End of Life – less so in business, but even there, we find uncertainty," he said.

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