By Gregg Keizer February 20, 2012 08:23 PM ET Computerworld - Microsoft has quietly extended support for the consumer versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista by five years, syncing them with the lifespan of enterprise editions.
The move is part of a revamp of the company's support policies for its operating systems, Microsoft said.
Previously, Microsoft had committed to support consumer software with security updates, and bug and stability fixes, for five years, a period designated as "mainstream" support. Meanwhile, business software was supported for at least 10 years: The first half in mainstream support, the second in "extended" support.
During extended support, Microsoft provides security patches to everyone, but offers other fixes only to organizations that have signed support contracts with Microsoft. Until the change, Vista's consumer editions -- Home Basic, Home Premium, Starter and Ultimate -- were to be retired from support in less than two months, on April 10, 2012. The new policy extends that date to April 11, 2017. Windows 7's consumer editions were due to drop off the support list on Jan. 13, 2015, a deadline that has now been moved to Jan. 14, 2020.
Seems like a sensible move if there are to be significant sales of computers in 2012. Why would potential customers buy a computer with Windows 7 in late 2012 if the operating system would be unsupported around two years later? If possible, people would either wait for Windows 8 or find an alternative operating system to put on their computers. With free operating systems around I don't imagine many home users will want to pay to upgrade the operating system during the life of their computer.