Microsoft Life-Cycle Policy: Although Windows XP still commands a large installed base of users, XP was officially end-of-life in April 2014 and triggered a large wave of upgrades in 2014 mostly to Windows 7. Here are some other important end-of-life dates:
- Windows Vista SP2 - end of support April 11, 2017
- Windows 7 SP1 - end of support January 14, 2020 (home/ultimate end of sales Oct 31, 2014)
- Windows 2003 Server - end of support July 14, 2015
- Windows 8 - end of support January 10, 2023 (end of sales Oct 31, 2014)
So what should you do as a consumer?
...we've got some recommendations.
Windows XP Pro:
- We recommend using it only as necessary to run old legacy software, most often there are ways around this by using compatibility mode or 32-bit Windows 7 or virtualization.
- Windows XP support and ability to install newer software will increasingly become difficult over time.
Windows Vista Business:
- Support from Microsoft is good through 2017, though this release never became a huge success, we have customers that work well with Vista and we recommend keeping these systems in place until Windows 10 comes along in 2015.
Windows 7 Pro:
- We recommend Windows 7 as the mainstream business operating system. Not only does it perform well, it offers an interface familiar to XP users and will be supported up to 2020 by Microsoft. It has an extremely large installed base of users and by using the 32-bit version can run a lot of legacy programs too so it is a good replacement for XP.
- Most businesses will want to standardize on the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Professional and keep installing this through 2015 and even into 2016 because you will still have a 4 year guaranteed support window.
- The somewhat confusing interface makes this product hard to recommend for business users. On the tablet/2-in-1 type device the touch interface can work well or for the user that likes the challenge of new things. For mainstream business we recommend skipping this edition and waiting for Windows 9 (announced as Windows 10).
- All signs point to the rough edges being removed from Windows 8, multi-screen and window support are back, better start menu configurations and several years of polishing should provide better sales and upgrade response than 8.x did.
- With the Windows 7 extended support period provided into 2020, we'll likely recommend beginning the transition to Windows 10 starting in 2016 for new systems or as aging systems are replaced.