Microsoft to retire Office XP, Vista SP1 next week

Slates plug-pulling for July 12; Vista users must upgrade to SP2

Microsoft will retire 2001's Office XP and the first service pack for Windows Vista next week, according to the company's published schedule.

Both Office XP and Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) will exit all support July 12, this month's Patch Tuesday. That date will be the last time Microsoft issues security updates for the aging suite and Vista SP1.

Microsoft supports its business products for 10 years, the first five in what it calls "mainstream support," and the second five in "extended support." The biggest difference between the two phases is that in the latter, non-security fixes are provided only to companies that have paid for special support contracts.

Microsoft generally patches security vulnerabilities in its products throughout the entire 10-year stretch.

Although Office XP's support expires next week, Vista users can continue to receive security updates by upgrading to SP2, the service pack Microsoft launched in May 2009.

Users can install Vista SP2 through Windows Update, or by manually downloading the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the service pack.

The consumer editions of Vista SP2 -- Vista Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate -- exit support in April 2012, while the corporate versions of Vista Business and Vista Enterprise will be supported with security patches through mid-April 2017.

Microsoft supports Windows' consumer versions for only five years, but maintains the enterprise editions for 10 years.

Users can continue to run out-of-support software: There is no "kill switch" that gets thrown to disable or cripple the programs. Without security fixes, however, such software will be increasingly vulnerable to attacks.

Office 2003, the follow-up to Office XP, will receive security updates until April 2014. Office 2007 and Office 2010 will get patches until April 2017 and October 2020, respectively.

Office XP and Vista SP1 were last patched three weeks ago when Microsoft issued 16 security updates that fixed 34 flaws.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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