Microsoft is not in the habit of supporting its operating systems (OSs) until the end of time. At some point, none of its current OS versions, from Windows XP Service Pack 3 to Windows 7 Service Pack 1, will be marketed, supported, or sold. In this week’s blog post, we’ll let you know how long your Windows PC has until it reaches the end of its life.
End-of-Life support – What does this even mean?
Nearly ten years ago, Microsoft set up its support lifecycle policy which defines when the company will eventually stop providing consumer and business technical support, as well as general product support via updates, service packs, or other enhancements.
Even though Windows 7 is gaining market share, Windows XP is still quite prevalent; in December 2011, the older OS had a worldwide share of 46.52%. But, despite this, Microsoft has given Windows XP an official end date. Support for both Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Office 2003 will end on April 8, 2014.
This means that after this date, there will be no new security updates, hotfixes, assisted support, and new technical online content for both products. In essence, this means that Windows XP and Office 2003 are “dead”. Like what happened to Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows Millennium Edition, the OS will continue to work but will be vulnerable to all sorts of Trojans, viruses, and worms that are set out to target a specific security vulnerability of Windows XP. By running an unsupported OS, you’re not just putting your personal data at risk but also the other PCs and data in your home or office network.
In addition, once Windows XP reaches its End-of-Life date, hardware and software manufacturers will stop delivering new products and drivers that explicitly support the OS. It happened very quickly with all of the Windows 9x-based systems and will likely happen again.
So what’s the point? It’s quite obvious: Microsoft defines a predictable support cycle to encourage both consumers and businesses to upgrade to a newer version of Windows.
What about Windows Vista?
Microsoft’s ill-fated Windows Vista was axed much sooner than Windows XP. Instead of being in production for more than ten years, the OS only got five years for its consumer and business editions. That means Windows Vista Service Pack 2′s end of life will come this year on April 10. Only business customers who opted for the extended support option can still get security updates and phone support until April 2017.
What about Windows 7?
Of course, with the release of Windows 8 in the coming year, Windows 7′s life will eventually come to an end. Currently, that date is January 13, 2015 for the Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate Editions. Extended support, however, ends on January 14, 2020.
Want to learn more about the lifecycles of Windows operating systems? Check out the Windows lifecycle fact sheet!