Microsoft is discontinuing service for a wide variety of products starting in January 2020. If you use Microsoft applications purchased in 2015 or earlier, read this article for the quick version of the Microsoft Lifecycle policy.
If you haven’t read Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policies, then rest assured you have saved some very important minutes of your life, and maybe some tears as well.
The documents are mind-numbing; they’re painful; they use technical jargon so specific they read almost like an accounting textbook. But they communicate some extremely important information about how your applications will be serviced and ultimately put to bed.
Don’t worry, we’ll give you the high-level, so you can easily figure out whether you have anything to worry about.
How do I know when Microsoft software is reaching End-of-Support?
Microsoft is extremely predictable, so once you know how they operate then you will know when to start looking for upgrades. They work in five-year increments, starting with year 0 of every decade. That’s why we saw so many new products and big updates come out in 2010; that’s why 2020 will also be a big year for new software.
But support lifecycles also operate in increments of five. This concept is baked into the company’s traditional lifecycle policy. Mainstream Support continues for at least five years, and Extended Support will continue for a minimum of 5 years after that, for a total minimum of 10 years.
So, if your Microsoft product has “2010” or “2015” in the title, then it is highly likely that your level of support will experience changes in 2020. If your product is older than 2010, like Windows Server 2008, then you need to check their support updates every year until they announce End-of-Support. (Windows Server 2008 will reach End-of-Support in 2020.)
Office for Mac 2016 Reaches End-of-Support in 2020
Mac products are a big exception to the 5-10 rule. This year Office 2016 products including Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, and Excel are reaching end of service.
Microsoft Support: The difference between Mainstream, Extended and End-of-Support
Your organization does not need to switch products when your support agreement switches into Extended Support. But End-of-Support is a bright red flag…
Now you know when to expect your software to shift from Mainstream Support to Extended and finally reach End-of-Service. But what does that mean, and when should you buy the new software?
Mainstream Support is the first leg of the support lifecycle, typically from year 0 to year 5. It includes every type of support and update. Microsoft hears change requests and constantly updates your software with tweaks, fixes, and sometimes new features during this initial period.
Extended Support from year 5 to 10 discontinues product updates, so you cannot expect any further improvements, but your application will continue to receive security updates during this time. There isn’t a big need to jump branches to a new product yet.
Your organization does not need to switch products when your support agreement switches into Extended Support. But End-of-Support is a bright red flag because your software stops receiving security updates.
Why are security updates so important? Why is End-of-Support a ‘big deal’?
Being so widely distributed makes Microsoft a prime target for hackers. As soon as a new patch releases, the hacking community attempts to break it like a bank safe. Ultimately, they are successful, but not before the next update rolls around, and the cycle starts over again.
Not so with End-of-Service products. So as soon as the updates stop, your application becomes more than a prime target, it’s like a tranquilized Siberian Tiger dropped on a poacher’s front door. The prize is not just in high demand; now you’re just easy prey.
We highly recommend upgrading all End-of-Support software before the final deadline. This will help your network stay secure. Each antiquated application with network access is a security threat.
If you aren’t a Platte River Networks client and you suspect you could be using software from 2010 or before, then check the full 2020 list on support.microsoft.com. Product support will end as early as January, so check now to make sure your network will stay safe.