Correction, 10:05 a.m. PDT April 8: This story misstated the type of support available after mainstream support ends next week. Under extended support, available for XP and business versions of Office 2003, users can sign up to get paid support or pay for help on a per-incident or hourly basis.
Microsoft will drop mainstream support for Office 2003 on April 14--the same day that the retirement process begins for Windows XP.
Although mainstream support for the Office 2003 applications suite will come to an end, Microsoft has the product scheduled to remain in "extended support" until April 8, 2014.
Under extended support, Microsoft only plans to deliver patches and bug fixes. Any other maintenance will be available only to users who have signed support contracts with Microsoft.
Theoperating system has similar contractual terms. As with Office 2003, mainstream support will end for XP on April 14. Under extended support, available for XP and business versions of Office 2003, users can sign up to get paid support or pay for help on a per-incident or hourly basis.
Butler Group analyst Richard Edwards said Monday that discontinuation of support for the two products is not expected to cause disruption to business users.
"These changes in support have been known about for some time, so most users will have already got their plans in place," he told ZDNet UK.
As far as XP is concerned, users will have decided long ago that they are either going to wait for Windows 7, or make the move to Vista, Edwards said.
"Some may have decided that they are going to keep up with XP for longer if there is a particular piece of software they use that is vital to their business," he said.
Similar decisions would have to be taken over Office 2003, he added. "The decision is to either make the move to Office 2007, or wait for the next version of Office, and in the meantime pay Microsoft if you think you will need support," Edwards said.
Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.