Microsoft wants its Windows XP users to get with the program, and is giving them 365 days to do so.
One year from today, Microsoft will shut down extended support for its 12-year-old operating system, in favour of newer platforms like Windows 7 and 8.
In 2002, Microsoft launched its Support Lifecycle policy, allowing 10 years of combined mainstream and extended support for Microsoft Business and Developer products, including Windows OSes. To that end, Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 will lose that support on 8 April 2014.
"If your organization has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late," Stephen Rose, senior product manager for Windows Commercial, wrote in a blog post. He revealed that it takes an average company 18 to 32 months to reach full deployment, and urged businesses to begin planning and application testing "immediately," to avoid issues later.
But don't think that a simple upgrade from XP to Windows 7 or 8 — a "modern operating system," according to Rose — will do the trick.
"You will need to do a clean install," Rose said, meaning user data must be migrated and applications reinstalled on the new OS. More details on testing hardware and apps can be found on the Windows blog.
Microsoft already pulled mainstream support for Windows XP in April 2009, but come this time next year, it will drop extended support, meaning no more security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates.
Rose warned that running XP SP3 and Office 2003 after support ends can expose companies to potential security risks. Even anti-virus software support won't be enough, and vulnerabilities discovered in the operating system or applications running on it will remain unpatched and open to malware.
"Using XP after April 2014 is an 'at your own risk' situation for any customers choosing not to migrate," Rose wrote.
Windows XP launched in 2001, and has been named Microsoft's most popular OS of its time. Redmond has given users plenty of time to make the move; the software giant announced the news last April, two years before the shutdown, before the Windows 8 launch.
According to March data from Net Applications, approximately 38.73 per cent of PC users are still using Windows XP; the most popular OS is Windows 7 with 44.73 per cent. About 4.99 per cent are on Vista, while only 3.17 per cent have upgraded to Microsoft's latest, Windows 8.