Let the countdown begin: Windows 7 mainstream support ends in six months

There's a difference between mainstream and extended support, however.

geek clock
Credit: Thinkstock

Three months after the XPocalypse, Microsoft has reset the countdown clock, this time for the end of free mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015.

Now, this is a big difference over the end of XP support, and having gone through this argument with at least one person in my household, it made for good blog fodder.

While this covers all versions of Windows 7, what this basically means is no more updated features or performance improvements, and you can't call up Microsoft support and get free help unless you are covered by an extended support contract, which I would think virtually every enterprise worth its salt would have.

To some degree, Microsoft has already ended the first half of support for Windows 7. It has not released a second service pack for 7 despite the OS now approaching its fifth year and showing no signs of diminished popularity. It certainly hasn't added any new features or functionality in a long time, and it's hard for me to tell on my machine if performance has been improved since the vanilla release in 2009.

As for the end of free support, as I told my dad, "So what? When you have a problem, you don't call Microsoft, you call me." I'll bet most of you can relate.

For individuals without a nerd offspring who call Microsoft for help, they will have to pay on a per-incident basis for support. I would urge them to do some searching first, because oftentimes you can find the fix on a message board somewhere.

Microsoft finally pulls the plug on Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Like XP this past April, there will be no more patches or fixes after that date. I've read that since Windows 7 is so popular and ubiquitous, Microsoft may extend that date, but I doubt it. XP's lifespan was artificially lengthened because Windows Vista was very late to begin with – Microsoft likes a three-year window between operating system releases – and it was a hairball. The time between Windows XP and Windows 7 was eight years, a very long time for XP to take root.

If Windows 9/Threshold is a solid release – and all indications are that Microsoft has smartened up and is leaving the bad ideas of Windows 8 behind – then Windows 9 will come along six years after Windows 7, giving the latter less time to take root. It will also give Windows 9 five years to start grabbing market share before Windows 7 is sunset for good.

And on the subject of Windows 9, WZor is back with more gossip. The group says Windows 9 will be announced this fall. The next big event for the company is the Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C., but that starts next week, so it's likely too soon.

WZor also made a reference to downloading the OS for a reinstall rather than needing a boot disk, but neither Google now Bing's translation services were very accurate, so I'm not comfortable going into further detail.

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10