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Tuesday 15 April 2014

Microsoft withdraws support for Excel 2003 - Does it matter?

Last week, on the 8th April 2014, Microsoft withdrew support for Office 2003 and Windows XP, including, of particular interest to readers of this blog, Excel 2003.

The effect of this depends on two factors:

  • How many people/organisations are still using Excel 2003?
  • What are the implications for those that are?
I will try to answer the second question, if you can help me to answer the first by completing my poll at the top right of the blog.

Those still using Excel 2003 will already be facing many of the disadvantages of not having upgraded, such as:
  • Incompatibility with spreadsheets produced by colleagues, customers and suppliers (this one will only become a bigger issue with the withdrawal of support, as other users upgrade);
  • Lack of access to new features such as Tables and Structured References as well as improved functionality of existing features such as PivotTables and Charts.
However, the withdrawal of support from Microsoft raises some potentially more pressing issues.

Microsoft's description of the withdrawal states,

"After April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates."

I would imagine that very few organisations, if any, are using Microsoft to support Office 2003 at this stage. One would assume that anyone with a direct support relationship with Microsoft would be using more recent versions. Similarly, there can be very few important technical issues not already addressed.

As a result, the biggest issue is "no new security updates"! This means that Microsoft will no longer provide patches to fix breaches of security in the software, leaving systems open to attack.

This should be a concern for those that have not been swayed by the other benefits of upgrading so far. So, maybe now is the time to go for it, if you haven't already.

Don't forget to complete the poll (at the top right of the blog), to let me know what version you are using.

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  1. The lack of security updates is definitely a huge issue, but everyone should be using the new versions of Excel anyway since the main difference is just a UI difference. All the 2003 keyboard shortcuts are backwards compatible on new versions of Excel.

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  2. This is case of bad monopolistic behaviour at its most exemplary. Microsoft has a monopoly on the PC desktop and they feel they can do anything they want to. Ceasing support of Excel 2003 is like Ford ceasing to not just supply parts, but manuals, technical bulletins, training and most importantly, monitoring recall issues for any cars that are over 11 years old. By law auto manufacturers have to supply all those things for at least 20 years past the model year of a car. Longer for monitoring recall issues. We desperately need rules like that to be enforced today for software providers. Microsoft makes Carnegie, Frick, Rockefeller etc look like amatuers in the "Robber Baron" arena.

  3. I know I am about 3 years too late, and you will not see this, but someone else may read it. First of all - Microsoft having a "monopoly" on the PC has absolutely nothing to do with this issue in the least. Whether or not Microsoft has a monopoly on PCs has no bearing at all on what office software you use. You could use Google Docs, or any number of other softwares, including Apple's.

    Furthermore, Microsoft ceasing support of Office 2013 is nothing like Ford or any other car company monitoring recall issues, having repair parts, or any other such nonsense. And, NO, we do not need those kinds of "rules" enforced today, because that is just stupid. Who on God's green earth thinks that their software is supposed to last 20 years? Think about what you're saying... That's quite ignorant. Also, having to program in backwards compatibility stifles progress in programming, and in their being able to offer newer and better developed tools and resources. -------- Oh, and by the way, the ignorant car comparison isn't a one to one comparison. It's not like a car company has to take part of their last car and build it into their newest one while making sure that it looks great and performs better than anyone elses. That's be like having a 2017 Fiesta with part of a 1997 Fiesta built in, and everything from the 1997 model still has to work correctly, while the 2017 has to be new and fresh. The whole thought of it is just stupid.