Windows 7 mainstream support to cease in January 2015

By Andrew Collins
Tuesday, 15 July, 2014

Windows 7 mainstream support to cease in January 2015

Microsoft will discontinue ‘mainstream support’ for Windows 7 in January next year, and will provide the much leaner ‘extended support’ until 2020. But approximately one quarter of the world’s desktop PCs are currently running the ageing Windows XP, which has already passed its extended support cut-off date.

According to Microsoft’s support website, mainstream support for all versions of Windows 7 will cease on 13 January 2015. This includes Windows 7 Enterprise, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Starter, Ultimate and any corresponding ‘N’ versions like Enterprise N or Professional N.

Note that Microsoft distinguishes between mainstream support and extended support. In Microsoft parlance, mainstream support includes:

  • Paid support - charged on an hourly basis or per incident
  • Security update support
  • Non-security hotfix support
  • No-charge incident support
  • Warranty claims
  • Design changes and feature requests
  • Use of the Microsoft Knowledge Base and Microsoft Help and Support site

Of the above, Microsoft’s extended support provides only:

  • Paid support - including per incident and per hour
  • Security update support
  • Use of the Microsoft Knowledge Base and Microsoft Help and Support site

You can also get non-security hotfix support during the extended support period, if you buy an “extended hotfix agreement” within 90 days of the end of mainstream support. This 90-day requirement does not apply if you’ve bought Software Assurance or Dynamics Business Ready Enhancement Plan for the product in question.

In other words, post 13 January 2015, when it comes to Windows 7 Microsoft won’t provide no-charge incident support, won’t honour feature requests, won’t provide design changes and won’t honour warranty claims. And if you want hotfixes outside of security patches, you’ll have to open your wallet.

This period of extended support will last until 14 January 2020, five years after mainstream support ends.

However, Microsoft does offer custom support relationships that can go beyond the extended support cut-off. Such custom support relationships “may include assisted support and hotfix support, and may extend beyond 10 years from the date a product becomes generally available”, the company’s website says.

Strategic Microsoft partners may also offer support beyond the cut-off date for extended support.

It’s worth noting that Windows 7 RTM - ie, Windows 7 without Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed - has not been supported by Microsoft since 9 April 2013. If you never installed SP1, now would be a good time, unless you have some compelling reason not to.

Interestingly, while mainstream support for Windows 7 will end in January next year, extended support for Windows XP ceased in April this year and, at June 2014, about 25% of desktop users still used the ageing OS (according to

The website says that in June, about 50% of desktops were running Windows 7, and only 13% of desktops were running either Windows 8 or 8.1.

(Alternative OS audit website claims that 16% of desktop machines were using Windows XP in June 2014, with 55% on Windows 7 and 14% running either Windows 8 or 8.1.)

End of sale

If you’re looking to grab a copy of Windows 7 - maybe you want to upgrade from XP but aren’t impressed by Windows 8 - you may want to get a wriggle on.

Microsoft ceased shipping copies of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate and Professional to retailers in October last year.

Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate can still be purchased if bought on a PC with the OS pre-installed, or if bought through an OEM. This will be the case until 31 October 2014.

Microsoft says it has not yet established the cut-off date for buying Windows 7 Professional pre-installed on a PC or direct from OEM. The company says it will provide one year of notice prior to the end-of-sale date, however.

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