What does the end of Vista mainstream support mean? Not much

What does the end of Vista mainstream support mean? Not much

Summary: Today marks the official end of mainstream support and the beginning of extended support for Windows Vista. If you’re still using Vista, for whatever reason, feel free to continue for as long as you want. You won't even notice the change.


Today marks the official end of mainstream support for Windows Vista.

I haven’t  seen any Save Vista petitions yet, but neither have I seen any panic from consumers or businesses still using it.

What I did see was one provocative post, published under the title Windows Vista RIP. I might have expected this sort of trolling from some random web site, but this little piece was published at SANS Technology Institute, which is normally an authoritative and neutral source of information about computer security issues.

Related posts:

I’m tempted to ignore it (the author did, after all, add a disclaimer at the end noting that it was intended to be satirical). But there were enough factual mistakes in the post that it’s worth going through them one by one.

The style of the post is a letter to Vista:

The market has rejected you and killed you off. Your last copies went over the counter in October 2011 according to your maker. And finally, today your maker buries you too: Microsoft is stopping support for Windows Vista today.

The market has indeed moved on from Vista. Over the past year, according to NetMarketShare, Vista’s share of online usage has declined from 11% to 7.65%. (Although I guess everything’s relative, because even lowly, rejected Windows Vista still has more users worldwide than all versions of OS X combined, according to that same data source.)

But the end of retail sales? That’s standard policy at Microsoft, as I’ve explained before. When a new Windows version comes out, PC makers are allowed to sell the previous version for a year, and Microsoft sells shrink-wrapped copies into the retail channel for one additional year. Windows 7 came out in October 2009, so Vista’s sales lifecycle ended in October 2011.

And "stopping support"? Not so. Let's keep reading.

There is some hope that consumer rights groups will fight such a short lifespan of support and patches (e.g. in Europe there 's a mandatory 2 year warranty requirement for products sold to consumers), but overall and for all practical purposes, you're about to be forgotten …

I don’t get this one at all. In Europe, there’s a mandatory two-year warranty requirement. Microsoft has supported Vista in its mainstream phase for five years, five months, and 16 days. I suppose technically, anyone who bought a boxed retail copy of Windows Vista between April and October 2011 might be able to grumble. But I’d want to ask them why they were buying that out-of-date revision when Windows 7 was available.

And then this:

[T]hose that have you will now have to decide to bury you in the trashcan or pay for extended support.

No burial or payment necessary. Back in February, Microsoft formally changed its published support policy for Windows Vista and Windows 7 to match with the way it worked in practice. All consumer and business editions qualify for no-charge, security-related updates throughout the extended support phase, which ends in five years, on April 11, 2017.

It’s true that new, non-security-related hotfixes will no longer be available for Vista. Again, that’s pretty much standard operating procedure. It’s been a long time since Microsoft released a significant non-security update for Vista, and those that mattered were rolled up into service packs.

You can see a full list of all 996 updates delivered during Windows Vista’s life by searching in the Microsoft Update Catalog. The only non-security-related updates I can find in the past year are language packs for Internet Explorer 9, updates for the Microsoft .NET Framework 4, and occasionally obscure fixes like 2563227 (“An SVG graphic that has attributes that use large values may not be parsed correctly”) and 2632503 (“FIX: Array elements in very large loops may be returned as undefined in JScript 5.8”).

And even then, you might find that non-security-related fixes are actually delivered for Vista. All of the updates I listed in the paragraph above were made available for Windows Server 2003, which ended mainstream support in July 2010.

If you’re still using Vista, for whatever reason, feel free to continue for as long as you want. Today might technically be a milestone, but it’s no big deal.

The really big date, of course, is April 8, 2014. That's when all support for Windows XP, including security-related updates, ends for good. If you're still using XP, you have a transition plan, right?

Topics: Software, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • Still using it here....

    For compatibility issues with "Battlefield 2". For all the grief it got, it was actually a damn fine OS that got fine tuned too late. Those "Mac vs. PC" ads didn't help either. But compared to XP, Vista was a welcome change in the right directions for the Windows OS as a whole.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Battlefield 2

      I have the BF2 complete Collection on Windows 7 x64 Ultimate and it works fine for me idk what your problem is but mine works fine.
      • Hmmmm

        Ok. I might have to toy with it again. If that's the case, I can retire Vista then and dual boot Windows 7 and Windows 8.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Good riddance

        One less POS to worry about.
  • What you won't get with Vista

    IE10. IE9 is pretty good but if you can run with IE9 you're ready for the improvements of IE10 and Vista won't get it because the engineering resources are better used elsewhere...
  • The moment you compared Vista with OS X

    you once again showed yourself as a shill. Windows competes with other versions of Windows since Microsoft does not sell computers. Vista's adoption, relative to other versions of Windows sucked. Vista was a product failure for Microsoft. Deal with it.
    • Interesting analogy

      If you are stating that vista's adoption, relative to other version of Windows sucked then you are saying that OS X adoption sucked. Vista adoption = all versions of OS X combined.

      If A = B and B=C than A=C

      So, by your logic, Mac adoption sucked because we are talking the same deployment numbers. OS X was a product failure for Apple. Thanks for clearing that up.
      Your Non Advocate
      • More funny math

        Gee, sounds like Microsoft.

      • Logic impaired.

        What he said was Vista didn't do well against other versions of Windows. Now, that IS a fact. I don't subscribe to the view that makes it a "bad product", it just wasn't that well received.

        Now the OS X thing should be compared to previous Mac versions... and it's doing better than any previous Mac OS. So that has to be a "success".

        Apple probably should be viewed as a computer vender (as their OS isn't available as a stand alone product). As a computer vender they are doing VERY well.

        Comparing the unit sales of an OS with the unit sales of a computer manufacturer really doesn't make much sense.

        Does it?
    • Vista was a product failure for Microsoft

      Probably true but nothing to do with the Vista user experience the topic of the article.
  • You're Fine Until Extended Support Expires

    There's no reason for anyone to worry about support for Vista as long as extended support lasts. Of course, why you'd want to continue to use Vista when Windows 7 is basically the same thing with many of the patches pre-installed (and a couple of improvements) I'm not really sure, unless you just want to get your money's worth out of a license you've already bought.
    • I think you answered your own question.

      [i]Windows 7 is basically the same thing with many of the patches pre-installed (and a couple of improvements)[/i]

      Unless you need those couple of improvements what does moving to Windows 7 buy you?
      • Well, Easier Re-installs and a Smaller Footprint

        Vista is pretty flaky before the patches go on. Sometimes it doesn't make it from a fresh install to a fully patched state, and you have to start over. Also, patched Vista has a larger disk footprint than Windows 7, though you can help that some by deleting some of the files to rollback patches.
      • I never had any problem with Vista prior to patching.

        Every Vista system I ever used was solid, reliable, and just worked.
      • Well, That's Good, but Doesn't Match My Experience

        It's good that Vista has worked so well for you, but that doesn't match my experience with it. In fact, I've never seen it be well behaved in a Windows domain environment, even with patches (though I don't think I've seen a really [i]fully[/i] patched version in a domain, so that may have changed).

        I think I would be hard pressed to say [i]every[/i] system with any operating system was "solid, reliable, and just worked." Certainly not with Vista or even Windows 7 (which comes closer so far than any version of Windows since 2000).
      • I think Windows fanboys...

        ...trying to convince anybody about it at this late stage of the game, is just a waste of time. You'll never get me to use it again.
      • @ye

        I'm glad you had a good experience with Vista - my experience with it was the complete opposite... Without going into the sordid details I went from having Vista on 2 machines at home and 7 machines at work to installing 7 on all of the above - I was able to make a solid case for upgrading the PCs at work by using my laptop that formerly came preinstalled with Vista and was upgraded to 7 vs a company owned laptop with better specs running Vista... in about a minute I was given immediate approval to upgrade all of the work PCs running Vista to 7. Ever since then I have not had a single issue from any of them vs several issues per week with them running Vista. In my humble experience Vista sucked out loud.
      • Vista may not be great but don't fool yourself thinking XP is either

        I find it weird Vista still gets a bad name (despite SP1 fixing many of the big flaws) when XP still gets a good name by the very same people. XP's so out of date and just awful to use by today's standards.

        Vista may not be great but don't fool yourself thinking XP is either!

        p.s - Personally I ran Vista from RTM until Win7 RTM as my main OS and had very little problems with it (I did ensure I had 2Gb from the offset). Over the course of the 3 years I'd even say it was more stable than XP over the same 3 year period.
      • Well...

        At this point probably very little - you'd be better served skipping 7 and moving straight to Windows 8 (it is after all, very close).

        Though being stuck on IE9 isn't great - not because IE9 is a bad product (it isn't) but Microsoft are evolving the IE platform very aggressively, you'd probably want those innovations. Though, probably better to sit tight and jump to Windows 8.
  • Loverock said Vista was the best OS ever!!!!