Managing the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy in your practice

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Did you know that Microsoft has ended mainstream support for Windows 7? Same with Office 2010. That’s right, the software that drives the majority of businesses in Australia and New Zealand is no longer supported by Microsoft’s mainstream support.

There’s also a chance your practice is running Windows Server 2008 R2. Guess what? Mainstream support ended 13 January 2015.

Running MYOB AE with your SQL database? Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 had its mainstream support cease on the 8th of July this year.

So what does all this mean for you and your practice and support from MYOB?

First, Microsoft’s end of mainstream support has a flow-on effect to MYOB. It means we are limited in the support MYOB can offer when our software is being used with those four older technologies. However we’re providing bridging support until 31 December 2016 so that you’ve got plenty of time to upgrade your IT infrastructure if required.

So while Microsoft has ended mainstream support for each of those technologies, MYOB is extending our own support for Accountants Office and Accountants Enterprise when used in conjunction with those older Microsoft technologies.

Secondly, by running your practice on software that isn’t covered by mainstream support, you’re introducing an element of risk into your own business. When Microsoft ceases mainstream support for a product, it ceases to fix anything other than security issues with a technology.

Also, Microsoft doesn’t backwards test compatibility when it releases a new technology with those that aren’t covered by mainstream support. By continuing to use old technologies, you are tying yourself to old programming and components at a point in time. So using technologies that have been in the market for approximately six years means you aren’t able to take advantage of the improvements made in that time.

When you consider that the technology decisions you make contribute to the operational effectiveness of your practice, updating your technology from something that was released a year or two after the iPhone 3G makes good business sense.

How do I know whether I need to upgrade?

OPTION 1 – Consult your IT professional as soon as possible to ascertain whether any of your technologies are affected. You will need to plan to update if you have any of the following:

* Windows 7 (all versions)

* Microsoft Office 2010 (all versions)

* Windows Server 2008 R2 (all versions), including SBS 2011 (which is built on Server 2008 R2)

* Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, excluding MYOB AO clients with SQL 2008 R2 Express

OPTION 2 – MYOB has developed a piece of software that will check your technology to let you know what’s installed in your practice.

My practice has one or more of those technologies. Now what?

The good news is we’re supporting Accountants Office and Accountants Enterprise installations until 31/12/2016. So that’s support over and above Microsoft’s mainstream support – which ended at various dates during 2015.

However you will need to make a plan for change to ensure you’re operating on supported technologies in 2017 and beyond.

Generally speaking, larger more complex practices may take anywhere from two to three months to manage the change from start to finish. Smaller practices might be able to manage the change within a couple of days through to two or three weeks depending on what technologies you need to upgrade. There is no set guide as there are as many variables as there are accounting practices, as you might imagine.

A checklist for making the change

MYOB’s technology professionals have provided the following guide for updating your technology. You’ll get a firmer view after speaking with your dedicated IT professional.

Step 1- Data collection process – engage with an IT professional or run the MYOB Environment Check utility to learn whether your practice is running any of Microsoft’s end of support technologies

Step 2 – Do a stocktake – Find out the implications of updating those technologies will have on other practice technology. Will an upgrade to your workstations operating system affect legacy software, for example?

Step 3 – Put a plan in place – Is it time to consider moving to hosted servers, using an IT vendor and paying a monthly rate so they can worry about the technology? Or are you happy to refresh the legacy Microsoft solutions with supported versions.

Step 4 – Order new technology

Step 5 – Plan change management – Ensure your team is prepared for any workflow changes that arise as a result of the upgrade (moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10, for example)

Step 6 – Plan a contingency – Make sure you’ve got back-up plans that minimise practice interruption if an install doesn’t go to plan.

Step 7 – Practice champion – Appoint a practice champion to provide support in the first weeks of implementation.

Step 8 – Organise an appropriate time to manage the upgrade.

Step 9 – Support your team – The first week of change is always the hardest. Make sure you have ears to the ground to ensure your team is coping with the new technology.

A bit about end-of-support lifecycle

There are a number of reasons why technologies reach their end of life:

* New technology innovation – .NET replacing c-treeACE database for AccountRight, for example

* Too many versions to support – a software company doesn’t want to spend most of its time testing legacy versions instead of releasing innovative new solutions

* Market forces – sometimes new software take-up is so strong that it’s fiscally sensible to divert resources to the newer platform.

There’s more information on Microsoft’s Support Lifecycle program at the following webpages: * Microsoft Support Lifecycle homepage * Windows 7 (all versions) * Microsoft Office 2010 (all versions) * Windows Server 2008 R2 (all versions) * Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (all versions)

I’ve got some further questions

To help you with the lifecycle changes, visit our website for frequently asked questions.

You’ll also be able to download the free MYOB Environment Collection Utility. Using this, you can run it on each of your computers and servers to report back what you are using and use this as a conversation starter with your IT professional.