Windows XPEarly next year, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP and Office 2003. So what does it mean for the average organisation?

Well not a lot immediately. Both will carry on working. But gradually 2 problems will start to appear.

Firstly, if hackers identify an underlying vulnerability in the source code, the hole will not be plugged. This means that you will be leaving yourself open to nasties.

The other problem is drivers. As new printers and other devices come along, they need to work with the operating system through an additional piece of software called a driver. These will not now work properly.

So are a lot of organisations being forced to take on a lot of extra expense? Well, it depends how you look at it.

If you are a charity, you are entitled to use a service called the Charity Technology Exchange (CTX). You can find it at http://www.ctxchange.org/ This provides software donated by Microsoft, you just pay CTX an admin fee. So a copy of Windows 7 is just £5 plus VAT. You can get Office 2010 for £16 plus VAT.

Even if the old machine is not worth upgrading, it means buying new need will cost you less than £300 including software and fitting.

If you are a private business, the economics are different. Where you are using a very old machine, it may be worth looking at replacing it along with the software. Also cloud services such as Office 365 should be considered.