What Microsoft Product Lifecycle Means For You

Christopher Lentz | February 25, 2014 03:49 PM

With the end of life coming soon for Windows XP, many administrators are reminded that other products are also on the chopping block for Microsoft. In fact, within the next year several products including Microsoft Exchange 2003 and Microsoft Server 2003 will be reaching the end of their lifecycles. So how do you deal with these lifecycles and how should you plan for the future? We have the answers in this edition of our blog.

Why the Lifecycle Exists

Microsoft had to have a way to end support for their products in a graceful and predictable manner. The Lifecycle allowed them to keep customers aware of upcoming End of Life products while allowing Microsoft to stop supporting antiquated software releases and burning resources to do so. Simply put, the Lifecycle let's Microsoft save money and migrate customer to more advanced and more secure products. This also helps customers stay on the leading edge of technology by forcing a move to a newer release of the software. 

Dealing with End of Life Products

Now that you know the "why", let's talk about the "how". End of Life products are, quite honestly, dangerous to your company or organization. The main reason is that older versions of software contain vulnerabilities which allow malicious attackers to compromise systems and networks. We don't want that, do we?! 

The best way to handle your products that are reaching End of Life status is to research the latest version of the same software, if available (some products have been completely retired), and develop a plan to migrate your data and services to the latest version. Planning requires research into those new products to ensure that they will function as intended for your business operations.

Planning for the Future

If you don't know what products are on the chopping block, now is the time to check out the Microsoft Lifecycle page to determine when your products are reaching End of Life status. That is the first step. The next step, is to plan for 2 weeks per every 10 employees to test, upgrade, and finalize your new software deployment. These steps are critical and none of them should be skipped. Testing should absolutely involve the majority of the time spent as it is critical to deciding if the new version will work for you. Have users from several departments check it for a day or two to be sure. Next, start migrating your users by departments starting with the ones that will complain the most. Why this direction? The answer is that your most critical users will give you the best feedback and help you during deployment to other users by helping you see potential outcomes. Finally, after everyone has been moved over, don't forget to check in with your users on the new product every couple of weeks for about 3 months. This will give you a list of bugs or setting adjustments to be made to keep your users happy as clams in the ocean.

Our team can help make your transition to new products easier than ever, give us a call today and we will get you going now!


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