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As reported widely in the media and mentioned in the December 2013 LAWPRO Magazine, Microsoft ceased supporting Windows XP SP3 (Service Pack 3) and Office 2003 (SP3) as of April 8, 2014. There will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates from Microsoft for either of these products. After the deadline, your Windows XP computer will still operate and Office 2003 programs will still run, but you will be vulnerable to any new security risks including harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal your personal information or destroy your data.

Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft’s anti-malware program, has not been available for download on Windows XP since April 8, 2014. But if you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates through July 14, 2015. Similarly, Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool, which works in conjunction with Security Essentials’ anti-malware engine and signatures, will continue to be supported for Windows XP through July 14, 2015. Despite these continuing updates, PCs running Windows XP or Office 2003 after April 8, 2014 should not be considered to be properly protected from malware.

You should immediately take steps to update all law firm and home computers running Windows XP SP3, and upgrade to a newer version of Office on any computer running Office 2003. You can download and run the <Windows Upgrade Assistant> to check if your current PC meets the system requirements for Windows 7 or 8.1. If your current PC meets the system requirements, you can buy Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro from a local retailer so you can upgrade your computer. If your PC does not meet system requirements, you will need to purchase a new computer.

Cyber criminals and hackers are expected to target computers that are running this unsupported software. The time and expense you will incur if your systems are compromised, and the potential risks to your firm’s and clients’ confidential data, are far greater than the cost of purchasing a new computer or updating Office. Please immediately take steps to update any computers running Windows XP or Office 2003. For more information, visit Microsoft’s XP end-of-support information page at microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/end-of-support.aspx.