"People will have to be retrained," Kandek said. "The interface is very different so you can't just install it and say, 'Use this.'"
While withdrawing support for Office 2003 may miff some organizations, ditching the suite entirely may not be an alternative for them. "If Office is a key component, as it is in many businesses, then they don't really have a choice," Miller said.
Google Docs could be an alternative, but Google doesn't have the sympatico with the enterprise that Microsoft does. "Microsoft has an enterprise awareness," Miller said. "It's much more enterprise friendly."
Of course, businesses who choose to upgrade from Office 2003 to Microsoft's Office offering in the cloud could avoid having the support rug pulled out from under them in the future.
"Using this product in the cloud has many advantages, not the least of which is it's always updated," Kandek said.
A Microsoft spokeswoman told CSOonline, "We encourage customers to upgrade to Windows 8 and Office 365 as Windows XP and Office 2003 will reach end of support in April 2014."
"Windows XP and Office 2003 were great software releases more than a decade ago," the spokeswoman said. "But the way we work has dramatically changed and technology has evolved along with the needs -- and more importantly -- the expectations of customers and partners that have already adopted modern platforms and devices."
"With Windows 8 and Office 365, customers will gain immediate benefits that allow them to work anytime, anywhere on the device of their choice to get their work done," she said.
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