By design, Microsoft’s operating systems aren’t built to last forever. Due to the fact that technology is always changing, new operating systems with better security and improved capabilities are routinely needed. Microsoft gets users to transition from an older OS to a newer one by ending support for the older one. This begs the question, how long until Microsoft pulls the plug on your OS?
Before we provide you with a list of expiration dates, we first must clarify the difference between Microsoft ending mainstream support of an OS vs. ending its extended support. Think of it like this, instead of Microsoft abruptly pulling the plug on a widely used OS, they will instead phase it out with two end-of-support dates which are generally five years apart. Here’s the difference between the two dates:
When mainstream support ends, Microsoft stops issuing non-security related fixes unless you have a previously-established extended support agreement. Warranty claims also end, and Microsoft stops accepting requests for new features or design alterations.
When extended support ends, Microsoft will no longer issue critical patches and security updates. When this happens, your systems will be exposed to vulnerabilities that won’t be fixed. The only solution is upgrading to a more recent OS, or biting the bullet and purchasing exorbitantly expensive custom support from Microsoft.
Now that you have a grasp on the different kinds of support provided and taken away by Microsoft, here’s the list of end-of-support dates that you came here for:
End of Support for Windows Operating Systems
Windows 10: Mainstream support ends October 13, 2020, while extended support ends October 14, 2025.
Windows 8.1: Windows 8.1’s mainstream support ends January 9, 2018, and its extended support ends January 10, 2023.
Windows 8: Windows 8 is no longer supported by Microsoft. To continue receiving patches and security updates, upgrade to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.
Windows 7: Windows 7’s mainstream support ended on January 13, 2015, and its extended support ends on January 14, 2020.
Windows Vista: Windows Vista’s mainstream support ended on April 10, 2012, and extended support ends on April 11, 2017.
Now, just because you’re running an OS that’s currently supported by Microsoft, doesn’t mean that your system is up to snuff. Microsoft only sends you the Windows updates and security patches; it’s up to you to apply them. If you don’t, then you’re leaving your system vulnerable.
It’s easy enough to apply Windows updates for your home PC, but it’s another thing entirely to apply Windows updates across all of your company’s workstations and server units, and verify that they’ve been applied correctly. Generally speaking, you will want an IT professional to assist you with this so that an update doesn’t interfere with a mission-critical application and cause downtime.