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This week signals the end of the line for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 support. After years of extended security updates, no more bugs or security holes will be patched in the venerable operating systems.

Windows 7 had a good run. When it launched in 2009, it helped Microsoft bounce back from the disastrous Windows Vista era. Windows 8, by contrast, was almost as big of a disaster as Vista but for a different reason. Whereas Vista was bloated and slow, Windows 8 was simply marred by a very bad interface that was universally panned.

This transition is no different than what we went through last decade with end-of-life support for Windows XP, said Mike Cherry, senior analyst at Directions on Microsoft. “We all understand that even though we have a perpetual license in theory, we’re at the mercy of how long Microsoft focuses on [the version].”

The majority of Microsoft’s focus now is on Windows 11, he said. “That’s the reality. So not only does knowledge of the older versions get stale, the ability to fix them gets stale.”

Changing upgrade lifecycle

The development lifecycle for Windows has changed considerably from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Up to Windows 7, Microsoft released monthly bug fixes and then two service packs over the life of the OS, which is where new features were introduced in addition to the bug fixes.

Cherry said that Microsoft now operates under what it calls “the modern lifecycle,” measured in months, not years, and new features aren’t held for a service pack. It means an aggressive upgrade cycle: he notes that there are already older versions of Windows 10 that are no longer supported.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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