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Windows 7 mainstream support to end in January 2015

Windows 7 Desktop with open Start Menu

Don't Panic! Extended support means you can get security updates until 2020

If you’re still getting over the fact that Windows XP support has ended, you’re probably not going to be very happy to find out that Microsoft has its sights on the world’s most popular OS, Windows 7 (50.55 per cent estimated market share). Announced on the Microsoft support page, Microsoft listed all of the products due to go end-of-support within the next six months, including Windows 7, which ends on 13th January 2015.

Before you worry that this may force you into having to upgrade to the dreaded Windows 8.1 (which probably isn’t as bad as you think), you can breathe-easy: Microsoft is only ending mainstream support, leaving extended support until 2020 (an additional five years). So, what’s the difference? Well, mainstream support is for a product that’s current. It means that Microsoft will release new security updates, other bug fixes, add new features and generally develop a product that’s already on sale. With extended support, the company dials everything back and only provides security updates, adding no new features.

All security updates are provided free-of-charge. Further hotfixes, say to fix compatibility with new hardware, are chargeable additions, although this is an option that’s only going to be used by large companies and manufacturers. Given that Windows 7 is a stable, neat OS, with all of the features that most people need, it’s only the security updates that are of interest. As of today, you know that you’ve got six-and-a-half years before support runs out.

As we saw with Windows XP, even when support ends, the OS can still be made secure provided you update drivers and software regularly and install proper internet-security software. All of this means that there’s plenty of time for Microsoft to make a new desktop OS that you actually want to upgrade to.