Microsoft extends consumer support for Windows 7, Vista

Support will now run for a total of 10 years from when the operating systems were released, meaning end dates of 2020 for Windows 7 and 2017 for Vista.

Lance Whitney
Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
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Consumers running any edition of Windows 7 or Vista now have a few more years of support to look forward to.

Microsoft recently tacked on five additional years in the form of Extended support for all editions of both operating systems for individual users. Full support for every edition of each OS will now last for approximately 10 years from release date, pointing ahead to January 14, 2020, for Windows 7 and April 11, 2017, for Vista.

Microsoft offers both Mainstream and Extended support for its operating systems and other products. Mainstream support lasts for five years and covers all major upgrades to the sofware as well as security updates, bug fixes, and other patches. Extended support then kicks in for an additional five years, at which point only security updates become available.

But individual consumers of certain editions of the two latest flavors of Windows were previously entitled only to Mainstream support, which means support for Windows 7 for some would have expired in 2015 and support for Vista in 2012. Microsoft's latest move guarantees protection in the form of security patches and other updates for all editions of Windows 7 and Vista for that extra five years.

Windows XP is still set to lose Extended support in April 2014, only now that timeframe will apply to all editions of XP for businesses and individuals alike. This means that anyone still running the decade-old OS will no longer receive updates in another two years. Microsoft has been urging companies on XP to plan their migrations now, even going so far as to advise them to forget about Windows 8 and focus on moving to Windows 7.

A Microsoft spokeswoman sent the following statement CNET clarifying that the Extended support now applies to all editions of Windows.

Microsoft has updated the Support Lifecycle Policy description to clarify that all consumer editions of our desktop operating systems are eligible to receive five years of Mainstream Support and five years of Extended Support. This clarification formalizes that all editions of our operating systems will receive security updates as long as they are using the most current Service Pack.

Updated 10:45 a.m. PT with response from Microsoft.