Just out of curiosity, isn't Microsoft (or any commercial company) allowed to decide when they will stop supporting some product of theirs? Unlike Apple, Microsoft has laid out a very clear timetable for every single one of its operating systems and even other products like MS Office. This information is usually released even before the software itself, so they are being remarkably up front about it. Again, compared to Apple which just never bothers to tell anyone when it stops releasing updates for an OS, Microsoft is being amazingly transparent about the process.
The same thing happens in the Linux world. Is RedHat still providing updates for say RedHat Linux 6.0? Are there still new versions of the 2.0.x kernel being released? How about KDE 1.x or GNOME 1.x? How long since there was a new version of those?
If you create a bit of software, are you not allowed then to decide that you no longer want to spend your time fixing bugs with it? Do you owe anyone an explanation as to why? Maybe if you were charging people money for it, but then we look at Microsoft and they have the information on their website for all to see, laying exactly when you can expect them to stop supporting the software and make a decision accordingly. And if you very clearly tell everyone that after a specific date you're done, haven't you made all reasonable efforts to responsibly wind things down?
Considering Microsoft makes most of its money by selling new copies of Windows and Office, and they are a for-profit company which is kind of the whole point in a capitalist economy, how exactly is that supposed to work if they are expected to maintain old versions of software indefinitely? Some crackpot out there might be really attached to Windows 1.0, so should Microsoft be expected to keep putting out updates for that? Where exactly does the line get drawn?
I'm hardly some libertarian nut who wants to give businesses free reign to do anything and trust that the market will somehow correct for things, because I know that history has shown that what actually happens is you get a monopoly in the major markets, or an oligarchy if you're lucky. I'm also far from a let's give businesses an interest free (inflation) loan at taxpayer expense (aka a tax break/incentive) conservative. I also tend not to like the hit to my personal wallet when I have to shell out for a new version of Windows, I just choose not to whine about it or act all smug and sanctimonious because I installed Linux. Installing Linux today is hardly an accomplishment; all the actual work has been taken out of it by distribution developers. Get back to me when you can install a distribution circa 1995 and use FVWM for a while. None of this sissy KDE, GNOME or even LXDE garbage. If the average Linux user of today can manage that, I'll be a little more impressed. But I digress...
I'm hardly what anyone would call pro-business, and would even say that since Microsoft has a monopoly on the operating system market, which is kind of vital to everything else working with a computer, they should have some additional rules to follow. However, I'd say they meet the definition of reasonableness by the average person. Every version of Windows gets roughly 10 years of support from Microsoft. That's more than even Linux where "long-term support" is generally defined as 5 years. In at least three separate instances, with NT4, Windows 2000 and XP, Microsoft actually extended the support period even longer than they initially promised and swallowed the rather considerable expense that is associated with such a move. It might seem appealing on a personal level, but when you look past your own selfish desires and consider the possibility of requiring companies to support every single product they've ever made, in perpetuity, you realize that it's simply not feasible. Microsoft provides an orderly transition process, with a clearly defined time table, unlike companies such as Apple as one example. If for whatever reason -- laziness, greed, ignorance, etc -- people don't make plans for the future I have a hard time bringing myself to feel sorry for them. Linux is no better, in fact, it's objectively worse when LTS distributions are only supported for about half the duration as any single version of Windows and there's only ever one LTS version of any distribution active at any given time. Microsoft has 4 -- Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 -- going concurrently. Yes, Linux distributions are operating on a significantly lower budget, but they're also benefiting from the volunteered time and effort of hundreds of individual developers who maintain most of the individual programs for those LTS releases unlike Microsoft. All the distributions have to do is package them up for the most part and a lot of times even that is done by volunteer effort.
I really wish people would take 30 seconds or so to think these things through. The reality is far more complex than these facile platitudes being bandied about.