Microsoft will drop free support for handful of aging products next week, including consumer versions of Windows XP and Office 2003.
On April 14, the Redmond giant ends "mainstream" support for Office 2003 in addition to Windows XP Home and Professional. This means the software will no longer include no-charge incident support, warranty claims, design changes, and bug fixes not related to security.
After next week, consumer XP and Office 2003 will be put into an "extended support" phase, which means customers will need to pay for Microsoft assistance on a per-incident, per hour, or alternative basis.
Security updates will still be provided for free for Office 2003 and XP Home and Professional until August 4, 2014. After that, the software is retired and users are on their own.
Customers can still get non-security critical fixes if they've enrolled in Microsoft's Extended Hotfix Support program. However, they must purchase the Hotfix agreement within 90 days of mainstream support ending - so it's rather late for that now.
On April 14, Microsoft is also "retiring" Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, meaning it will no longer provide support for the release. In other words, time to upgrade to SP2.
Mainstream support for Exchange Server 2003 Standard and Enterprise edition will also end April 14. Extended support dies April 8, 2014.
Upcoming kill dates
A complete list of Microsoft product-life cycles is available here, but we'll parse out some of the big upcoming support deadlines for your convenience.
Office 2000: Mainstream support ended in 2004. Extended support ends July 14, 2009.
Windows 2000 Server: Mainstream support ended in 2005. Extended support ends July 13, 2010.
Office 2007: Mainstream support ends April 10, 2012. Extended support ends April 11, 2017.
Windows Vista Home Basic, Premium, and Ultimate: Mainstream support ends April 10, 2012. Extended Support doesn't yet have a deadline.
Windows Vista Business: Mainstream support ends April 2012. Extended support ends April 11, 2017. ®