Understanding Software End of Support

April 15, 2014

End of Support WarningWe’ve all received that ominous notice that the software we are using will soon no longer be supported – with the most recent example coming from Microsoft in regards to the end of support for Windows XP as of April 8th 2014. Even though this news tends to be received negatively, it doesn’t always have to be, as there are many legitimate reasons as to why a company would discontinue software support, and benefits that can come as a result of having to upgrade. The worst approach to dealing with end of support is to “do nothing”, and it is important to fully understand the reasons behind the decision and your options for moving forward.

What does “end of support” mean?

Before we begin, let’s first take a look at what the dreaded “end of support” means, and why many software companies choose to do this. When companies discontinue a site or service and stop development and support, this is referred as “sunsetting” the product. Many large companies do this as a way of herding customers into larger concentrated groups of users.  For smaller companies though, this is usually performed when several newer versions of the software have been released, and the cost to support older systems outweighs the benefits of maintaining them. More specifically, vendors who offer several versions of software must have their support team trained on all versions in order to manage any issues.  Once a system has reached a certain age, and only a minimum number of customers are using it, it becomes cumbersome to train new employees on old versions and load applicable technology in order to continue to support them.  There may also be several improvements to the system or inherent reasons why the product was never good from the start, which would validate sunsetting the product and ending support.

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Windows XP No Longer Supported after April 8, 2014

August 29, 2013

Windows XP No Longer Supported After April 8, 2014Guest post by Raymond Desjardins

After many warnings from Microsoft, it appears that they are going to completely stop supporting (including through Windows update) Windows XP on April 8, 2014.  Microsoft prefers to refer to this end of support as “sunset”.  For larger companies with a lot of their current computers running XP Pro it could be “twilight” before they can manage to upgrade to a supported version of Windows.  To fully realize the magnitude of the change required one must appreciate that XP presently occupies 37% of the installed desktop operating systems.  There are twice as many legal XP installations than Windows Vista, Windows 8, and all the versions of Mac OS and Linux COMBINED.  Since accountants in general would not be considered “early adopters”,  I wonder what the percentage of our installations are still running XP?  Since there is no straightforward one-step upgrade from XP to Windows 7 or 8, this will be a very time consuming upgrade.

 Although the first reaction would be that we don’t really need to change from XP if it still works, the reality is that XP is a relatively vulnerable operating system with nowhere near the security underpinnings of Windows 8,  or even Windows 7 or Vista for that matter.  Once they stop patching XP with weekly updates, it will be even more open to hacks and security breaches.

 When upgrading, XP users will have to decide whether they want the relative familiarity of Windows 7 (which is due for sunset in 2020), or go all the way to Windows 8 with a projected sunset date of 2022.  They will have to measure the few additional support years of Windows 8 against the learning curve as opposed Windows 7.  Notwithstanding how much I prefer Windows 7 to Windows 8, I would personally upgrade my existing (active) XP installations to Windows 8.

 Whatever one decides, one thing is clear – it’s well past the time to retire Windows XP.  It was a fine operating system in its day and may it rest in peace.

Office 2013: A Second Opinion

February 14, 2013

In a guest post on this blog, David Silva shared his impressions of moving to Office 2013. I recently went through the process of upgrading to both Windows 8 and Office 2013. After two weeks I had to move back to Windows 7 (but that’s a discussion for a different day). At the same time I took the opportunity to revert to Office 2010.

Why did I do that? Is Office 2013 so bad / ugly / undesirable? The answer for me is a little bit “yes” and a little bit “no”. I do find the look and feel disconcerting – it’s flat, and somewhat retro, and clearly designed with tablets and full screen in mind. I’m still using a laptop as a desktop replacement (and an iPad for mobility), so this dinosaur struggled to discern the overlapping windowed Office 2013 apps on my large second monitor – a consequence of the flattened look. Plus, to me it just looks ugly.

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Moving to Microsoft Office 2013

January 28, 2013

Guest blog by David Michaelangelo Silva

Experience with Office 2013

I recently made the move to Microsoft Office 2013 and thought I would share my experience as well as some tips and tricks for getting started.

First of all, Office 2013 is not something to be afraid of. Making the jump from Office 2007 or 2010 is quite easy. The main differences are found in the user interface design and colour scheming while the basic layout remains the same. Of course, jumping from Office 2003 to 2013 will be a significant jump, however, if you are still using Office 2003 you are missing out on a lot.

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