Microsoft changes policy: all Windows versions get 10 years of support

In practical terms, this announcement won’t change much, but from a symbolic point of view it’s very big news indeed:

Microsoft quietly extends consumer support for Windows 7, Vista

Microsoft is updating the Support Lifecycle policy for Windows desktop operating systems, including Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

The update will provide a more consistent and predictable experience for customers using Microsoft Windows operating systems across OEM, consumer and business editions.

Microsoft still requires that customers have the most current Service Pack installed in order to continue to receive updates.

Through this update, customers who remain on the most current supported service pack will be eligible to receive both Mainstream and Extended Support, for a total of 10 years.

Don’t confuse the support lifecycle with the sales lifecycle, though. You can’t buy Windows XP or Windows Vista today, even though they’re still supported. And as I explain in the linked post, the clock begins ticking for Windows 7 as soon as Windows 8 is released. OEMs will be able to sell Windows 7 with new PCs for exactly two years after Windows 8 is released, at which point all sales stop.

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