Microsoft ended support for Windows Vista RTM April 13, meaning that those who wish to continue to use a supported version of the much-maligned operating system must update their copies with service packs. Mainstream support for Vista ends April 10, 2012, while extended support for Vista Business and Vista Enterprise will end April 11, 2017. The number of users of Vista and Windows XP has been steadily falling in recent months, as the newer Windows 7 claims an accompanying larger share of the U.S. operating system market. Microsoft is also adjusting its product support life-cycle policy to offer limited support under very specific circumstances.
Microsoft ended support for Windows Vista RTM, the original and patch-free
version of its much-maligned operating system, on April 13. Those who want to
continue using a supported version of Vista will need to
update their copies with service packs.
"What does 'End of Support' mean?" Eric Ligman, global partner experience lead
for Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group, wrote in an April 9 post on the Microsoft
SMB Community Blog.
"Once your version of Windows reaches the EOS
date, it is classified as an 'unsupported version' of Windows. An unsupported
version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows
In addition, Microsoft does not offer problem resolution services for
unsupported products, Ligman said, meaning that, "in the event that you
encounter an issue [or] outage in your environment on an unsupported product,
our engineers may not be able to help resolve this until you have upgraded to a
To check whether a copy of Vista has a service pack
installed, and is thus covered by Microsoft's support policy, click on the
Start button and type "winver" into the search box. The resulting
window should display a service pack number (for example, "Service Pack
2"). Ligman recommended that Vista users upgrade to
SP2 via Windows Update, which can again be accessed via the Start button,
followed by All Programs.
Vista's SP1 is due for retirement July 12, 2011; SP2 will be retired either
24 months after another service pack release, or at the end of Vista's
support life cycle. Mainstream support for Vista ends April 10, 2012, while
extended support for Vista Business and Vista Enterprise will end April 11, 2017. A full
product life-cycle schedule for Vista can
be found here.
Microsoft is also adjusting its support policy. Whereas before the company no
longer supplied products that had reached the end of their support cycle with
any troubleshooting assistance from Microsoft Customer Service and Support, now
"limited troubleshooting" will be available for "unsupported
service pack versions."
By "limited," Microsoft apparently means that incidents of broken
software will be handled by Microsoft Customer Service and Support, but there
will be "no option to engage Microsoft's product development resources,
and technical workarounds may be limited or not available." In addition, according
to an April 13 post on the Microsoft
Support Lifecycle Blog,
"If the support incident requires escalation
to development for further guidance, requires a hotfix or requires a security
update, customers will be asked to upgrade to a supported service pack."
According to January numbers from statistics-tracking company Net
Applications, Windows 7 averages a 7.57 share of the U.S.
operating system market, trailing XP at 66.15 percent and Vista
at 17.47 percent. However, Windows 7's market share has been steadily climbing
since its October 2009 release, while that of the older operating systems has