First Windows XP now Exchange 2003: What happens when the clock stops on support?

First Windows XP now Exchange 2003: What happens when the clock stops on support?

Summary: While all the focus has been on Microsoft pulling the plug on Windows XP support, next April is also going to be zero hour for the veteran email server.


The cut-off date for Windows XP support next year has been ruffling feathers but another widely-used Microsoft product, Exchange 2003, shares the same end-of-life deadline — and its demise is prompting some IT departments to rethink their whole approach.

Many of the organisations using the venerable email server, still estimated to account for between one-fifth and one-third of installations, may take the 8 April 2014 deadline as a cue to assess whether to stay on-premise or look to a hosted service, according to experts.

Ovum principal analyst Roy Illsley thinks those organisations now need to face up to the issues that come with unsupported products but is unsurprised that so many have stuck with Exchange 2003 for so long.

"The trouble with those sorts of technologies is they don't get upgraded as a matter of course in lots of organisations. If it's there, it's working, it's doing a job, it's forgotten about," Illsley said.

"All these [end-of-support deadlines] are coming and it's a case of all the organisations recognising that they've got either to do something or put up with the risk," he said.

"I suspect in this case they are not going to put up with the risk of having Exchange 2003 unsupported, because it's got information that could potentially be used by anybody and everybody. So most will probably move to a hosted-type service. Some people might go to Google and Gmail and stuff like that but most will stick with Microsoft but move to a more hosted Microsoft product."

David McLeman, managing director at cloud services firm Ancoris, said the hardware upgrade implicit in a move away from Exchange 2003 will also influence people's decisions and cause them to reassess the arguments in favour of staying on-premise.

"What's happening is that you've still got a substantial base of people who have to make a change — and of course moving from Exchange 2003 is largely for most people going to need a hardware change, as well as an OS change and an application change. So it's quite a big decision," McLeman said.

"Many organisations are now saying, 'Actually this is the time — let's revisit the whole thing. Do we need to be on-premise or not?' We're seeing a substantial uptick of people saying, yes, let's go cloud," he said.

"There are a group of organisations that are staying on-premise and upgrading to Exchange 2010. But particularly when you get into the mid-market a really significant number of people are considering cloud and then that boils down to either going Office 365 or Google."

According to McLeman, whose company is a Google Apps reseller, organisations are also taking next year's end-of-support deadlines as an opportunity to rethink the desktop and the assumption that it is going to be Windows only.

"Most people realise that the future desktop is going to be a mixture of Windows PCs. We're seeing some sectors deploy Macs, we're seeing Chromebooks just starting to uptick now that Google has been promoting them more heavily since Christmas, and of course you have tablets," he said.

Unlike a desktop migration involving Windows XP, there is still time before next April to move away from Exchange 2003 either on-premise or into the cloud, according to Ovum's Roy Illsley.

"In terms of Exchange 2003, you've not missed the boat — you've still got time to do it. I'd say, if you wanted a rough figure, three months would be a fair project timescale to move an average number of mailboxes off and stick them somewhere else, probably in the cloud — Office 365 or something like that," he said.

"There are tools and stuff available to do an Exchange migration much more rapidly. That may be part of their desktop move — that may be part of what they do and it may enforce what they do about XP and what they move with the desktop and what they take off the desktop," he said.

Ancoris's David McLeman said his firm's migration business to Google Apps has doubled in the past 12 months.

"We see the tide is coming in very fast now. One of the factors in many cases is organisations are wanting to change the way people are working. Whereas a lot of these projects kick off as an email migration, they very much become a project about better collaborative working," McLeman said.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Cloud, Collaboration, Google, Microsoft, Google Apps

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  • What happens when the clock stops on support?...

    You grow up and stop using ANCIENT software.
    • So what's wrong with XP?

      Nothing wrong with XP.
      FUD, driven by Microsoft and the software vendors.
      Roll out Win7 as the old workstations croak.
      • Re: FUD, driven by Microsoft and the software vendors.

        Microsoft owns XP. If they say it stops working, it stops working.
      • What FUD?

        IT is mission critical to run any business, running it with unsupported software it is the dumbest decision for any organization.

        There is no FUD on MS support rules, they are clear as crystal water, bearing in mind that no other company is supporting their software for so much time as Microsoft does (10 years!) and they offer support options aftwards.
    • What will really happen...

      Third party support experts for Exchange 2003 and Windows XP will suddenly become more prosperous. Large glacial companies aren't going to be pressured into upgrading just because they can't get support from Microsoft. This just means that other support companies will see an uptick in their support revenue from XP and Exchange 2003.
      • Well

        It has nothing at all to do with being pressured into upgrading. It's not like the support life cycle wasn't published and communicated BEFORE these companies bought the product. In case of XP this period has also been extended. Large companies aren't going to run an unsupported piece of software that is connected to the internet, and certainly not going to run an unsupported mail server. Unsupported as in not receiving vulnerability patches means you either run it isolated and disconnected or you don't run it at all.
        • It's Not THAT Dire

          For the most part if a users knows to not open email attachments and not download a "vulnerability scanner" when a notice pops up saying malware was found, they are fairly safe.

          I do not use anti virus software as I believe the cure is worse than the disease. I turned off Windows updates in 2008. I have never had the need or desire to contact MS for support.

          Java is uninstalled, I have virus scanner Apps.

          If I were ever to get infected, I would just make an image restore and restore from my regular backup. I have incremental backups for every day going back at least 30 days on two external USB drives. I have multiple drive image backups made every 60-90 days.

          Where am I vulnerable?
          • But how would you know?

            Might be interesting to see what's lurking in your system and get back to us. Some stuff might be noticeable but what would be the point in a rootkit or Trojan that let you know it was there? That would be absurd. Imagine all your bank details and passwords were out in the wild waiting on someone using them?

            The rest of us would rather have warnings of dodgy downloads etc, and the security updates that are required. Me.. I'm on windows 8, 7 and Vista in the house. The Vista should be updated but it's one of the kids and working fine so no rush.

            Nobody needs contact for support and I doubt we do. Businesses NEED to contact them all the time though, as problems become huge when thousands of folk on a network infrastructure are affected. Those are the guys that MS have had to extend XP support, not you. And YES you can keep running XP if you like but security patches and compatibility updates will cease. Time to move on. You've had a good run as XP is over 10 years old now anyway.
          • XP Support

            The only dodgy downloads I have had in the last year were all from Microsoft updates. So either they arn't too particular with their servers or tas discovered in the last 3 updates of Explorer, the problem mwas in the code written nand supplied by Microsoft!
          • We are talking about a 24/7 mail server

            Wich has several connection such as 25 for smtp, 443 for activesync exposed directly to the internet. Open an attachment is the least of your worries I would say.

            As to running an unsupported operating system, it is not Microsoft's support that is the issue, it is vulnerablilities that stopped being patched, that alone should be reason enough to yank out the network cable.

            These vulnerabilities are going to be documented, and as said they are not being fixed, so you are an easy and open target. I cannot believe anyone disabling automatic updates to be honest.

            Of course a good backup is important if you want to restore, but for a company, the other issue is data theft, which cannot be cured or fixed with restoring the data.
          • What about general users?

            Your method may work for you, but not the general users. Remember the "I Love You" virus was spread by workers opening infected e-mail. I cannot comprehend why anyone would open an e-mail from some unknown person saying they love them. However, it happened - a lot.

            Don't just think about IT or computer savvy users. Think about the idiots who work in these companies.
        • I know people that don't apply patches

          I know people that don't apply patches at all and don't get exploited. Then there are computers that I patch like clockwork and some of them still get infected. Patching is good, but not magic. The end of official patches from the M$ mother ship is no reason to dump working PCs into the ocean. Exchange may be a different matter, not because the risks of exploit are any greater, but the consequences might be.

          Personally, I don't expect anything drastic to happen when support for XP ends.
      • Re: Third party support experts ... will suddenly become more prosperous

        Are these "third party support experts" able to offer bug fixes?
        • No

          They are not.
          • Re: No They are not.

            So what kind of "support" can they offer, then? Hold your hand when something breaks, and just keep saying "there, there" while you cry?
      • But...

        wait until they don't get SECURITY hotfixes and their business stops due to higher volume of Worms flooding their network and interrupting their systems.
    • End of XP Support

      You stop using microsnot and use unix based open sourcesoftware. Users should stop falling over themselves to accommodate Microsoft marketing spivs. How many years has Internet Explore been full of holes? Microsoft is rapidly becoming a liability in certain parts of industry and wil;ll continue to be so until Microsoft get a grip on their not fit for purpose development managers.
    • Nothing wrong with XP

      I'd rather use that 12 year old OS then use that horrible and totally bi polar Window 8. Maybe Xp users should switch to Linux. If they don't want to upgrade to Windows 7 to replace the hardware, Linux does the job just fine. Just gotta deal with minimal support and it can be a headache but it's one that is far worth the headache opposed to learning a crap OS by MS that's not going to last that long anyway if they wanna stay in the desktop game. They need to choose either desktop or tablets. They can have both but they can't be lazy and try to roll it all into one OS. Give up XP for Window 8? Not a chance, better off going towards Linux and at least you don't have to worry about buying all new hardware. Companies would find it worth their while to use Linux. Windows 7 is a very good option but Window 8 is a bad idea, productivity will go down immensely and so many people will get fired because they are unable to use an OS that wants to keep things hidden.
      • Nothing wrong with 8 either

        I can only assume you never tried Windows 8 :)
        Hey, they just took one button from you, now you're unable to do anything?))
        Do you still remember how to use keyboard? Here:
        Win+E, Win+D, Win+R, Win+F, Win+L, Win+Tab, and some new for Windows 8 (Win+C, Win+I, Win+X, etc...). Open your mind!
  • First Windows XP now Exchange 2003: What happens when the clock stops on su

    You upgrade to the latest version of your Microsoft software and run it for the next 10 years.