It's the end of mainstream support for Windows Vista

It's the end of mainstream support for Windows Vista

Summary: April 10, 2012: That's the date Windows Vista support moves from mainstream to extended (meaning paid for everything but security updates).


On April 10, 2012 -- a k a, tomorrow -- Windows Vista's period of free, Microsoft-provided mainstream support comes to an end.

What's that mean to users still running one of Microsoft's least publicly popular versions of Windows?

If you ask Microsoft, officials there will likely tell you that the end of mainstream support means it's the ideal time to upgrade to Windows 7. But in reality, there are still a number of years left -- five, to be exact -- before Extended Support for Vista ends. That date is April 11, 2017, for all versions of Vista.

Microsoft's Product Lifecycle table for Vista spells this all out for the various versions of Vista:

(click on the table above to enlarge)

Mainstream support is the period during which Microsoft provides free and regular updates including both security fixes and other patches for a product. Once a product exits the mainstream support phase, it enters Extended Support. During this period, security updates for a product remain free, but most other updates are only supplied on a paid basis, and require a separate Hotfix Agreement.

Interestingly, Windows XP, which Microsoft introduced in 2001 (six years before it launched Vista), doesn't exit the Extended Support phase until 2014 (for XP with Service Pack 3). But XP still has considerably more market share than Vista.

As Computerworld noted, Microsoft also is moving Office 2007 into the Extended Support phase this week (today, April 9, to be precise).

Update (April 11): Office 2007 Mainstream support has been extended and now will end in October 2012.

In February, Microsoft quietly updated its Product Lifecycle rules to extend support for the Consumer versions of Vista and Windows 7 to 10 years (five mainstream, five extended), the same amount of time that Business versions of Windows are supported.

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • "What's that mean to users still running one of Microsoft's least publicly popular versions of Windows"

    [i]What's that mean to users still running one of Microsoft's least publicly popular versions of Windows?[/i]

    Well there ya have it, folks. Even Mary Jo says as much.
    • Agreed!

      Vista was nothing more than a big steaming pile of crapware that should never have been released to the public... it wasn't even good enough to be a beta version. Driver issues, memory leaks, and incompatibility issues abounded. Fortunately for my sanity Microsoft got it right with Windows 7.

      And before some die hard frothing at the mouth propeller headed Microsoft fanboy tries to call me out as someone who has never used it you could not be any more wrong. I had it on 2 laptops at home and supported 7 laptops at work that it came preinstalled on - in fact I used my personal laptop as an example of why the company should upgrade from Vista to 7 and not even a minute into my presentation I had approval to upgrade. Face it Vista sucked. Windows XP was good, Windows 7 is right now the best Windows OS out there including the Windows 8 beta/Consumer Preview.
  • Let's see what the popular outcry sounds like

    Somehow, I don't think there will be nearly as many objections as there were to discontinuing the same level of support for Windows XP.
    John L. Ries
    • If XP were extended another 3 years beyond its current EOL slate

      I suspect 75% of its user base would continue using it, both businesses and home users. I doubt the same could be said for Vista.
    • Even Mary Jo doesn't seem to think much of Vista

      So there's hope out there. ;)
  • Not So Bad

    I used Vista longer than I have used any OS. Four years. I never had a problem with it. (I bought the right hardware.) I'm now running Windows 7 on the same computer and still not having a problem.

    I tried Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Errrr..... not so good.
    • Great OS then, it's official

      Bad reception was only an image problem;-)

      Love the 16+ SKUs in the table. It always brings a smile to my face.
      Richard Flude
  • I loved the installation

    1 dvd for any version, just punch in the product key.
    Windows 7 was a regression in this area
  • False information

    Office 2007 has about 6 months left in mainstream support...