Microsoft says it made a mistake last week when it posted Oct. 30, 2014 as last day it would sell Windows 7 preinstalled on PCs.
It doesn't say exactly how the mistake occurred, but that the correct status of the last sale date is "to be determined."
The company lists two end-of-sale dates for its operating systems: one for retail software by itself and one for PCs with the OS preinstalled.
Last week the retail date listed on the Microsoft site set Oct. 30, 2013 as the retail date and Oct. 30, 2014 as the PC-preinstalled date. That was changed to “to be determined” for both dates.
The company says the retail sales actually did end Oct. 30, and that the PC-preinstalled date has yet to be set.
The company issued this statement in response to a request for clarification of the dates:
“We have yet to determine the end of sales date for PCs with Windows Windows 7 preinstalled. The October 30, 2014 date that posted to the Windows Lifecycle page globally last week was done so in error. We have since updated the website to note the correct information; however, some non-English language pages may take longer to revert to correctly reflect that the end of sales date is “to be determined”. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused our customers. We’ll have more details to share about the Windows 7 lifecycle once they become available.
“Additionally, we are confirming that the Retail software end of sales date for Windows 7 did happen on October 30, 2013,” Microsoft said.
Microsoft has waffled over the past few days about how long it will continue to sell Windows 7, initially stating that it had already stopped shipping the operating system to retailers and OEMs, but shifting the status over the weekend to "to be determined."
The earlier date would have left businesses seeking an upgrade from Windows XP – whose end of life hits in April – with a tight deadline to purchase Windows 7. As Microsoft states on its Web site, “When a version of Windows reaches its end of sales date, it's a good time to think about upgrading.”
BACKGROUND: Microsoft ends Windows 7 retail sales
It’s unclear why Microsoft made the change and whether the new end-of-sales dates will be sooner or later. Microsoft hasn’t responded to a request for information yet.
The company’s Web site lists two key dates about end of sales, one being the end of retail software and the end of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled. “Note that when the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled,” the company says on the site. “End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMs are Dell and Toshiba — PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software.”
In any case, Microsoft will end extended support Jan. 14, 2020. That means after that date the company won’t issue any more security updates for the platforms, leaving machines running the operating system open to security exploits based on vulnerabilities discovered after that date.
Already Windows 7 is no longer listed on the Microsoft Store Web site.
Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter@Tim_Greene.