Users of Windows XP SP2 and Windows Server 2000 will no longer receive product support from Microsoft after 13 July.
End of support for these two products means that users will no longer receive operating system updates via Windows Update, including patches for protecting against viruses, spyware and other malicious software. Windows Update is also responsible for installing upgrades to help the operating system run more efficiently, including new drivers for hardware and updates for Internet Explorer.
Microsoft's Support Lifecycle Policy usually means that a product will receive support for five years after its release or two years after its successor has hit the shelves (whichever is longer).
Windows XP SP2 users are encouraged to update their operating system by downloading Service Pack 3 for free. Windows XP SP3 will be supported by Microsoft until April 2014. Alternatively, users can upgrade to Windows 7. There is no SP3 for the 64-bit version of Windows XP; people running the 64-bit version of Windows XP with SP2 will continue to be eligible for support and receive updates until 8 April, 2014.
Those running Windows Server 2000 will no longer have Extended Support, but Self-Help Online Support will be available for a minimum of 12 months. The announcements come after Microsoft also ceased product support for all versions of Windows Vista without any service packs on 13 April.