Does Your Business IT Support Contract Still Include Microsoft Windows XP?

If you have a business IT support contract from your IT Support Company you would expect IT Support for your Windows XP computers to be included.

But that may not be quite the case

The problem is that Microsoft Windows XP is now rather old -not quite prehistoric in computer terms, but at least Jacobean!

Microsoft goes through a phased withdrawal of its products to give users a very reasonable amount of time to upgrade. Three are 3 main phases:

  1. Mainstream support – full support including bug fixes, security fixes and design improvements. Microsoft commits to provide mainstream support a product for a minimum of 5 years after release.
  2. Extended support – after 5 years or 2 years after the replacement product comes out it goes into Extended Support with only bug fixes and security updates.
  3. Custom support – after 5 years on Extended Support (or 2 years after the second successor product is released). During this phase Microsoft only supports the product on a chargeable basis. In other words for all practical purposes it's unsupported for small to medium sized businesses.

Microsoft no longer provides what it calls "Mainstream Support" for Windows XP and has not done so for almost 3 years. Microsoft Windows XP is now on Extended Support until early 2014.

It's not reasonable to expect your business IT support company to support a piece of software that the author themselves no longer supports. The problem is that usually your Business IT Support Company has not made you aware of this IT Support problem.

What does this mean for Windows XP IT Support?

Microsoft Windows XP went out of Mainstream Support on April 2009. If you are running Windows XP you should be aware that Microsoft only provides security updates now – no design updates, no bug fixes.

If you do have a problem Microsoft are not going to fix it for you unless you are very important or you pay them a lot of money. Neither of these applies to many SMB's, if any at all.

In short your Business IT Support Company will be unable to help you with most Windows XP problems, because it's out of their control to do so. However because XP has been around for quite some time most of the problems have been ironed out.

What does your IT Support company say?

Most IT companies will have a clause buried deep in their contract that absolves them of any responsibility for products that are no longer supported or fully supported by the software author.

At face-value that appears to be perfectly reasonable. After all, if Microsoft is not willing to provide support how can your Business IT Support company help you?

On the other hand it's not reasonable of your IT Support Company to keep quiet about it.

I'm sure they are not quite hiding the Microsoft Windows XP IT Support issue from you. They probably think you know or they are not proactive at keeping you informed.

Why do you need to know that Windows XP is out of Mainstream IT Support?

You need to budget to replace these computers. Across the entire business this could be quite a considerable cost. Even for a small or medium sized business the costs could run to tens of thousands. That's a cost that most SMB's will want to know about well in advance.

And just in case your IT Support Company is not keeping you informed

If you have any Microsoft Windows XP computers you should upgrade to Windows 7 within the next few years. The best way of doing this is the planned replacement of old XP machines as they come to the end of their life. They should be replaced with newer PC's running Windows 7 or Windows 8 in the not too distant future.