Microsoft to end Windows 7 mainstream support in 2015
Microsoft has announced that Mainstream Support for its family of Windows 7 products will end on 13th January 2015 according to the computer giant's website.
So what does this mean for businesses using Windows 7? Before the panic sets in this is not the same thing that has just happened with Windows XP. Mainstream Support means the on-going development of Service Packs and adding of new features and this is what will end early next year. Windows XP went out of Extended Support earlier in 2014 and that does represent the end of the product's lifecycle with no new security patches, performance improvements or anything really - effectively the death of the Operating System. Extended Support is not due to effect Windows 7 until the 14th January 2020.
What this does demonstrate is that Microsoft's flagship Windows Operating System update cycle really is hotting up. Windows XP had three major Service Pack updates during its lifecycle whereas Windows 7 has had just one. This indicates that development resources are instead being focused on the next Service Pack for Windows 8 and the new Windows 9 Operating System which some tech news websites are tipping to be available as soon as the second quarter of 2015.
What IT managers and Windows 7 users must know is that they have to be running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 for these dates to apply. Support for Windows 7 RTM (Released to Manufacturing - the original release software) was stopped back on 9th April 2013, so if for some reason (perhaps on instruction from third party software vendors or after a negative update experience) you aren't keeping Windows 7 up-to-date then you must put plans in place to do so immediately.
For those businesses still wishing to purchase copies of Windows 7 it is worth noting that sales of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate will formally end on 31st October 2014, though a date to end sales of Windows 7 Professional has not yet been announced.
Alongside the withdrawal of Mainstream Support for Windows 7 comes the news that other Microsoft business software products including Windows Server 2008, Windows Storage Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010 are also due to drop out of Mainstream Support.