This week, Microsoft issued a reminder to consumers that Windows 7 will exit Mainstream Support and enter the Extended Support phase on January 13, 2015. That means Windows 7 customers will still obtain security fixes until 2020, but the platform will no longer receive cool new features. This change affects all ten versions of the Windows 7 platform.
"Extended Support lasts for 5 years and includes security updates at no cost, and paid hotfix support. Additionally, Microsoft will not accept requests for design changes or new features during the Extended Support phase," states the support page.
Versions of Windows 7 going into Extended Support include Enterprise, Enterprise N, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Professional N, Starter, Starter N, Ultimate and Ultimate N. Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 will also enter Extended Support on January 13, 2015.
Windows 7 isn't the only operating system going into the "Extended" realm. The 12 versions of Windows Server 2008 have only six months left of Mainstream Support, as does Windows Storage Server 2008, Dynamics C5 2010/NAV 2009/Nav 2009 R2, and Exchange Server 2010 Enterprise/Standard.
Customers who are still holding on to Windows 7 may want to take the next six months to determine if Windows 8.1 is the way to go, to hold off until Windows 9 "Threshold" makes an appearance, or to keep using the same platform despite the lack of new features. Given that Mainstream Support for Windows 8 ends on January 9, 2018 and the Extended Support ends on January 10, 2023, Windows 8.1 may be the way to go for customers looking to acquire the latest features.
As of June 2014, Windows 7 held 50.55 percent of the operating system market share, followed by Windows XP at 25.31 percent, Windows 8.1 at 6.61 percent, and Windows 8.0 at 5.93 percent. With Windows 8.1 and Windows 8 combined, they hold 12.54 percent of the OS market, which isn't bad considering the age of the two platforms.