When will Microsoft pull the plug on your version of Windows or Office?

Windows 7 is still wildly popular on desktop and laptop PCs, but the support clock is ticking. What happens when time runs out? And how long until other currently supported versions of Windows and Office suffer the same fate?


[This post was originally published April 2013. It has been completely updated and republished several times since then. Most recent update: March 4, 2016.]

It's been nearly two years since Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP and Office 2003. As I've noted before, Microsoft has a well-established support lifecycle for its software products. It's basically an agreement that the company makes with everyone who commits to its core products, Windows (desktop and server) and Office.

The terms of that agreement don't change often, which is an important assurance for business customers who tend to be conservative in their approach to upgrades.

In the past, when Microsoft released a new version of each of its flagship products every two or three years, the company was obligated to offer ongoing support for as many as five versions of Windows at one time, for desktop and notebook PCs.

The 10-year support lifecycle is in the process of changing, as Microsoft moves to its "Windows as a service" and Office 365 subscription models. But many older versions are still supported and will live on for many years. Here's the rundown, starting with the newest member of the family:

Windows 10

In the run-up to the release of Windows 10, many wondered whether Microsoft would take the opportunity to change its support lifecycle. The answer, as announced with the release of the new operating system in July 2015, is no. The traditional 10-year support lifecycle continues, with a five-year mainstream support phase that began on July 29, 2015, and a second five-year extended support phase that begins in 2020 and extends until October 2025.

A note to that policy qualifies the support commitment to devices where the OEM continues to support Windows 10 on that device.

Windows 10 updates are cumulative, and Microsoft has announced plans to deliver major upgrades to Windows 10 two or three times a year (the first was version 1511, in November 2015). These updates are required for ongoing support. As a result, the only customers who are likely to care about the 10-year upgrade cycle are those running the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) in enterprise deployments. It's likely that Microsoft will publish a new 10-year support calendar with each LTSB release.

Mainstream support ends: October 13, 2020

Extended support ends: October 14, 2025

Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Server 2012/2012 R2

Microsoft's official Windows 8.1 Support Lifecycle Policy treats Windows 8.1 as if it were a service pack for Windows 8. That means the lifecycle calculations start when Windows 8 shipped, in 2012.

Support for the original release of Windows 8 ended "two years after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update," or October 18, 2015. The same policy applies to Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 (equivalent to Windows 8.1).

Most PCs that included a preinstalled version of the original release of Windows 8 have long since disappeared from retail channels. For the dwindling population of PC users still running Windows 8, a free upgrade to Windows 8.1 is available through the Windows Store.

Mainstream support ends: January 9, 2018

Extended support ends: January 10, 2023

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2

This is currently the most popular release of Windows, and promises to hold that top spot for a long, long time. The following support dates require that you install Service Pack 1 (Windows 7 RTM support ended in April 2009).

Note that these dates are identical for Windows Server 2008 R2.

Mainstream support ends: No longer supported

Extended support ends: January 14, 2020

Windows Vista Service Pack 2

The much-reviled Windows Vista will apparently end not with a bang but a whimper. The mainstream support phase ended in 2012, and the extended support phase is about to enter its final year.

Mainstream support ends: No longer supported

Extended support ends: April 11, 2017

In an earlier revision of this post, I predicted, accurately, that Microsoft would not extend the support deadline for XP. I believe the same will be true of Windows 7. There will almost certainly be an outcry for this popular OS to get an extension when January 2020 rolls around, but it's not likely to happen.

And it's worth noting that the end-of-support date is not a death sentence. PCs running Windows XP are still out there, running merrily along. Likewise, Windows 7 PCs will not stop working when the clock runs out. The only difference will be an eerie quiet on the second Tuesday of each month. When the extended support period ends, so do those updates. (Large enterprise customers who have custom support agreements with Microsoft and who are willing to pay a very steep price for the privilege can still get custom updates after the official end of support. But consumers and small businesses will not have that option.)

Office support dates

The Office support lifecycle works just like Windows, with one important difference. Office 365 subscribers pay for a monthly or annual subscription and always receive the most current version of the Office desktop apps, which can be installed on up to 10 PCs or Macs, depending on the edition.

Microsoft continues to sell traditional versions of Office with a perpetual license. These products receive regular security and reliability updates but don't qualify for feature upgrades.

Here are the support dates for each current member of the Office family sold as a perpetual license product:

Office 2016

This is the current release of Office, with a support schedule that matches up perfectly with Windows 10.

Mainstream support ends: October 13, 2020

Extended support ends: October 14, 2025

Office 2013

The Office 2013 support schedule goes roughly three months past that of Windows 8.1.

Mainstream support ends: April 10, 2018

Extended support ends: April 11, 2023

Office 2010 Service Pack 2

Support for Office 2010 Service Pack 1 ended on October 14, 2014. But with Service Pack 2 installed, you'll find this version still has a long extended support period ahead, with end-of-support dates that are 6 months after those of Windows 7.

Mainstream support ends: No longer supported

Extended support ends: October 13, 2020.

Office 2007 Service Pack 3

Earlier service pack releases are no longer supported, and this group of products has already passed the end of mainstream support. Extended support ends on October 10, 2017.

How the support lifecycle works

For all versions of Windows and Office, Microsoft provides at least five years of mainstream support, followed by another five years of extended support. These lifecycles apply equally to business and home versions of Windows and Office. Service packs have separate end-of-support dates. For example, beginning next week you'll need to be running Service Pack 1 to get support for Windows 7. (There's an exhaustive FAQ if you want to dig deeper into this stuff.)

Generally, "supported" means you have access to at least one type of assisted support option (possibly paid) and no-charge security updates through channels like Windows Update and the Download Center.

The calculations start with the general availability (GA) date for each product. The official date of retirement for support is the second Tuesday in the first month of the quarter following that anniversary (which also happens to be Patch Tuesday). That grace period typically means a few weeks or months of extra support tacked on at the end of the five- and ten-year support cycles for each product.

For Windows 7, you can do the math yourself. The GA date for all Windows 7 editions was October 22, 2009. Five years after that date was October 22, 2014. The next calendar quarter began in January, 2015, and the second Tuesday of that month wass January 13. So, that's when mainstream support was scheduled to end. Extended support for all editions goes an extra five years, until January 14, 2020, which happens to be the second Tuesday of that month. (Those calculations don't work for Windows XP, whose end-of-life date was extended artificially.)

To find the end-of-support date for any Microsoft product, use the Microsoft Product Lifecycle Search page, the product family index, or the full A-Z product index to get the official answer. When you find the entry for a specific product, you can see the general availability date, the retirement dates for mainstream and extended support, and retirement dates for service packs.


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