Microsoft: Vista to remain available until 2011

The Windows 7 release candidate just came out publicly, and the finished operating system could launch this October. What will happen to Windows Vista then?

Microsoft's Asia-Pacific Windows client chief Richard Francis told IDG News yesterday, "We are still not sure if [computer makers] will be able to ship Vista once Windows 7 is made available." The statement raised some eyebrows, since it suggested Microsoft would quickly sweep Vista under the rug after the Windows 7 launch.

That's not how things will go down, according to PC World. The site received word from Microsoft spokespeople who say Francis' facts are off: official company policy calls for OS distribution to continue four years after the launch, and that policy will apply to Vista. Since Vista came out in January 2007, it will stay available until January 2011.

As for support from Microsoft, that will depend on the edition. Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate will drop out of "mainstream" support on April 10, 2012, PC World says, while Vista Business and Vista Enterprise will stay covered until April 11, 2017. Windows XP recently left the mainstream support phase, too, which means Microsoft no longer provides non-security hotfixes and free warranty support.

Of course, restricting distribution of Vista might have been a futile move to begin with. PC World quotes Directions on Microsoft analyst Michael Cherry, who points out, "The truth is, few people will be likely to order [Vista] once Windows 7 is available." He also noted, "Windows 7 has the potential to not be met with the same resistance as Vista. . . . But to try to stop Vista or make it unavailable, that would just draw attention."

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