As planned, Microsoft today ended "mainstream support" for its long-running Windows XP operating system and Office 2003 - but that doesn't necessarily mean anyone should be in a hurry to upgrade just yet. The software giant will continue to offer extended support for both products through April 2014, which in a nutshell means that security updates will still be pumped out free of charge until that date, but customers who need further assistance on a per-incident basis will need to pay for the service.

The changes apply to all editions of the Office suite as well as all versions of XP with the exception of Embedded. Additionally, those who purchased a machine with XP on it can look to their OEM for support and non-security fixes will continue to be available to businesses that are enrolled in the Extended Hotfix Support program. In other words, for most users nothing is changing as XP will continue to be serviced with free monthly security updates for almost five more years. For corporate users, on the other hand, this could mean having to rethink their upgrade strategy for the coming months.