Microsoft is extending an olive branch to stragglers. According to ComputerWorld, the company has quietly prolonged the support period for consumer editions of both Windows Vista and Windows 7 by five years. That means security updates for those two operating systems will be distributed until April 2017 and January 2020, respectively.
Before the extension, consumer editions of Windows 7 and Vista were only going to be covered under a five-year "mainstream support" period. They’re now set to get five years of "extended support" on top of that. We explored the differences between mainstream and extended support a few years ago when Microsoft gave Windows XP a similar extension. Extended support basically means Microsoft charges for any updates or support beyond the release of security hotfixes and access to its online knowledge base.
ComputerWorld says Windows 8, too, will receive similar treatment. It should be supported all the way until "early 2023."
I can’t help but wonder if these extensions have anything to do with Windows 8’s rather, er, unique changes in the user interface department. Vista scared off a decent number of users, but its UI and foundational changes seem like small potatoes compared to what’s in store for Windows 8. I wouldn’t be surprised to see certain folks cling on to Windows 7 for years to come.