Now that 2010 is officially half over, you might want to keep in mind a few upcoming dates in “Microsoft-world” that could be important to your environment.
7/13/10 – Mid-July marks the end of life for Windows 2000 and Windows XP SP2. If you have either of those OSes running, remember they will no longer have updates developed for them. Its time to get those workstation upgraded to a more recent service pack for XP or consider Windows 7 if that is something feasible. I’ll admit, I’ve still got one Windows 2000 server hanging out there – I don’t know if I’ll make it!
10/22/10 – XP Home will no longer be sold on netbooks. In my organization netbooks are either reinstalled with XP Professional once they arrive, or we could consider Windows 7 for some users, so it’s not much of a concern personally. For those of you making recommendations to friends and family, I’d go with Windows 7. There’s not really a good argument otherwise when it comes to home users.
With so many other Microsoft products touting “2010” (SharePoint, Exchange, Office…) it’s easy to get sidetracked by things that are new and shiny. Don’t forget to be ready to clean up after some of those things are reaching their end of life. Every environment has a machine or two that lags behind, don’t let an end of life issue turn into a security one.
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.
On July 13, 2010, serveral Windows Server products will hit new points in their support lifecycle. Windows 2000 Server will move out of Extended Support and will no longer be publicly supported. Windows Server 2003 and Server 2003 R2 will be moving from Mainstream Support to Extended Support. Extended Support will last another 5 years.
This forces a new deadline on the some of the improvements that need to be planned at my office. Our phone system and our main file server are still operating on 2000 Server. I have been planning to upgrade the phone system for a long time now, but it continually gets pushed back due to other more pressing projects. Our file server is an aging, but sturdy, HP StorageWorks NAS b3000 – “Windows-powered” with specialized version of 2000 Server. Both deserve more attention than they’ve been getting lately, so now there is a reason to move those items higher up on the list.
For more information about these support changes, check out “Support Changes Coming July 2010” at the Windows Server Division Weblog.