About a week from now, on Oct. 13, Microsoft will move SharePoint 2010 into Extended Support, a near-death mode that will continue until 2020.

It's not inducing as much panic as the end of support for Windows 7 or Windows XP. But it is causing a ripple of concern for organizations still using this older version of SharePoint.

The Fate of SharePoint 2010

Microsoft rarely, if ever, releases statistics about product use. However, AIIM (Association of Information and Image Management) found earlier this year that SharePoint 2010 is still primarily used by 42 percent of more than 400 AIIM members it surveyed. In addition, 30 percent are still using SharePoint 2003 or SharePoint 2007 for at least some legacy content.

So what will happen next week? Microsoft runs five-year product cycles.  When a product is released it receives full Mainstream Support. This includes the ability to request design changes, security updates, other updates, complimentary support and paid support for more complex issues.

Once that runs out, the product moves into Extended Support. In this mode, it no longer issues security updates and charges for all support calls, even calls by Microsoft partners.

In short, if you're still using SharePoint 2010, you will be able to resolve your issues — as long as you cough up some cash.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 support

The Option? Update

The solution is to move to a newer version. But which one? SharePoint 2016 is only in preview and not due for full release until in the middle of next year.

“Obviously Office 365 with SharePoint Online is really tempting simply because to a certain extent it has been future proofed,” Jimmy de Santis, a user experience guardian at Montreal-based Sharegate, a migration and SharePoint management specialist.

But that's only a viable option for organizations without a lot of customizations. AIIM found only 15 percent of SharePoint customers use the standard out-of-the-box product.  Almost all others make at least limited customizations.

SharePoint customizations

De Santis recommends those users go to either SharePoint 2013, the only real option at the moment.

SharePoint 2013 enhanced the features offered in SharePoint 2010 and improved the user interface and device compatibility. 

But it's a little harder to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 than to  Office 365 because it prevents an in-place upgrade,” de Santis said. In other words, users have to remove the older version of SharePoint before installing the new version.

Plan and Act

Oliver Wirkus, a senior SharePoint consultant at Softlanding, said this is a good time for organizations to think about SharePoint and how they're using it. For clients still using the 2010 version, an upgrade to 2013 offers is warranted.

“I do not foresee any large benefits of SharePoint 2016 for on-premises users that would justify the lengthy and complex migration process,” he said.

However, they should not rule out a future upgrade to SharePoint 2016, notable for its support of hybrid strategies.

Kyle Davis, research director at Gartner, said organizations should be thinking about hybrid scenarios.

“Enterprises should evaluate a move to SharePoint 2013. A move provides added benefits such as newer technology and the opportunity to clean up or restructure sites and content that have become unwieldy," he said.

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Title image by Matthew Brodeur.