End of Support for Window 2000, Vista RTM and XP SP2: Where are your priorities?

There’s been a lot of chatter about some of the upcoming Microsoft end of support dates that are coming due, specifically for Windows 2000 and Windows XP Service Pack 2 on July 13, 2010 and Windows Vista RTM on April 13, 2010. If you are running an OS version that has reached the end of the support life, you aren’t eligible for any support updates or security patches after these dates.

Of course, the associated message is that the best way to stay supported is to upgrade to Windows 7. I’m all for that. I love using the latest and greatest operating systems, Windows 7 and Server 2008 (R2 or original) are no exception. But when it comes to these particular announcements, I only sort of care about them. I suspect that unless you haven’t patched or upgraded a server or desktop in last 5 years, you probably only sort of care too. Here’s why:

  • Windows 2000 – This one is a pretty big deal. Windows 2000 is 10 years old and there will be no more support for the client or server versions, especially when it comes to security updates. Running Windows 2000 on your servers is like running NT 4.0 – you’re on your own! And being that Windows 2000 can’t run a version of Internet Explorer higher than 6, I’d limit the Internet access of any “2000” box you may need to keep in production this year.

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 – This is a Service Pack, not the actual OS. Windows XP is in extended support until 4/8/2014. It’s true that you really shouldn’t be using SP2 anymore (for the IE 6 concerns alone) and Service Pack 3 has been out since April of 2008. If you are running XP SP2 and you don’t want to make any “big” moves to Windows 7 this half of 2010 then make a “little” move to SP3 for XP and buy yourself some more time.

  • Windows Vista RTM – Let’s take a closer look at the life-cycle here. The RTM version was released on 11/8/2006 and the generally available versions of Vista were released to customers on 1/30/2007. Vista, overall, is still in mainstream support until 4/10/2012. Plus, Vista Business and Enterprise versions have extended support until 4/11/2017. However, since SP1 has been out for Vista since April 2008, a version of the OS without any service pack is no longer supported. If your organization is planning on staying on Vista for the foreseeable future, you’ll want to be using SP2 for Vista, as the support for Vista SP1 ends on 7/12/2011.

So it comes down to really thinking about where the needs of your organization are now and where they really need to be come the end of 2010. I’d love to see Windows 7 on every desktop I touch, because I’m already finding myself annoyed with some of the things that XP lacks. However, I do think replacing Windows 2000 on servers takes priority over any Windows XP client.

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