Microsoft launched its Windows Creators Update yesterday, but the date also marked the end of support for the maligned Vista release of the ubiquitous desktop OS. Windows Vista reached general availability in January 2007, and after just over a decade, Microsoft has pulled the plug on it. Internet Explorer 9 has caught a ride on that deprecation train, too. Redmond advises Vista and IE9 users to upgrade their OS and browser as soon as possible.
Effective immediately, Windows Vista will no longer receive "new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft." Users who have already installed Microsoft Security Essentials on Vista will continue to receive definition updates for "a limited time," but the utility itself is no longer available for download.
Some users will be in something of a hardware-defined pickle. Microsoft no longer sells new Windows 7 licenses, and all newer versions of Windows require CPUs with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 instructions. Some Intel CPUs from the beginning of the Vista era lack NX support in particular. Users attached to decade-old Pentium 4 and Celeron systems for whatever reason will need to buy new hardware or switch to some alternative supported operating system. Windows 10 is the only desktop version of the OS still available for sale, and may not be compatible with older graphics adapters, too.
Machines running Vista will not spontaneously explode, but they will remain permanently vulnerable to newly-discovered software exploits. The end of Vista support seems to be receiving substantially less attention than the end of Windows XP support in 2014. Today, Windows XP is installed on somewhere around seven percent of PCs connected to the internet, while Vista's market share sits at less than one-tenth of that figure, at 0.72%.