Microsoft extends date for OEM preloads of Windows 7 for business users

Microsoft extends date for OEM preloads of Windows 7 for business users

Summary: Business users will be able to buy PCs with Windows 7 Professional preloaded beyond October 2014, according to a new change in Microsoft's lifecycle policy.


Microsoft is going to allow OEMs to continue to build and sell new PCs with Windows 7 Professional preinstalled beyond October 2014, the original date that would have been the cutoff under the company’s normal sales lifecycle. But OEMs won't be permitted to build and sell new PCs with the consumer editions of Windows 7 after October 31, 2014.


Microsoft officials went public with this change to Windows 7's lifecycle on February 14.

Back in December, Microsoft posted an update to its Windows 7 lifecycle page that indicated OEMs would not be able to sell PCs with Windows 7 preloaded after October 30, 2014. Shortly after posting that date, company officials said that information was published in error and that the actual date would be disclosed at a later time.

Today is that "later time." But while Microsoft officials are saying Windows 7 Pro will be available to OEMs for preload beyond the October 31, 2014, date, they are not yet specifying what the new cutoff date will be. Once that date is established, Microsoft will provide OEMs and customers with a year heads-up, officials said.

Here's Microsoft's updated chart with the new dates:


The extension of the Windows 7 Pro preload-cutoff date is not related to the looming end-of-support date for Windows XP, said Shad Larsen, senior business program manager, Windows business planning team. Nor is it because of business-customer reticence to adopt Windows 8, Larsen insisted.

Instead, Larsen said that because Windows 7 remains the largest part of Microsoft's installed base and is still in the midst of being deployed by business customers, Microsoft wants to make it easy and possible for businesses to continue to obtain it.

Microsoft ceased selling boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail on October 30, 2013. (Windows 7 Starter Edition was removed from the OEM channel in October 2012, around the time Windows 8 was released.)

Microsoft's end of support dates for Windows 7 remain the same. Mainstream, free support for Windows 7 ends on January 13, 2015, and extended support for Windows 7 ends January 14, 2020. After that 2020 date, Microsoft will no longer provide any fixes or updates, including security patches, for Windows 7.

Update: Larry Seltzer (a ZDNet colleague) asked a good question in the comments. He wondered how Microsoft could end mainstream support for Windows 7 Pro on January 13, 2015 if it would still be allowing OEMs to sell Windows 7 Pro on new machines at that time. 

A Microsoft spokesperson replied: "Generally OEMs offer free warranty support for a period of time (usually 1 year) defined by the OEM.  Because of this, there is a relatively small difference between mainstream support and extended support in the case of the OEM license because the OEM licensed versions of Windows continue to receive support directly from the OEM for the hardware and software." Paid, extended support will still be available from Microsoft, the spokesperson noted. 

My ZDNet colleague Ed Bott has additional details on what today's change means for volume licensees, those seeking to make use of downgrade rights and more.

Topics: Windows, IT Priorities, Microsoft, PCs, IT Policies


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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  • No change on Mainstream Support date?

    They're actually going to allow preload sales of an operating system past its Mainstream support date? That's a bit odd.
    • Good question, Mr. Seltzer!

      I added an update with the answer to the post. Thanks for pointing that out. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • What about the rest of us?

    They need to put boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail back on sale at least through the end of summer.
    • I think if you get the Pro edition, you get downgrade rights

      If you want Win7, buy Win8 (if the downgrade rights are there) and then use some Win7 physical media you have around from another install (whether yours or someone else's).

      But, remember, Win7 falls out of mainstream support in less than a year. You really don't want to be installing stuff past the mainstream support date (at which point, installation support issues can get expensive).

      Win8.1 works pretty well - even on a purely desktop system. It's probably time to think about moving forward.
      • Want

        I will go with anything but Win 8 the UI is horrible.
        • Idiot

          You don't even have to see the tiles if you use something like classic shell to add a start button back. People like you that continue to use the interface as an excuse to put down 8 make me sick. It is faster safer and better than any other OS on the market today and that includes all the Apple reruns that have all the apps that don't come close to the software available for Windows. Get over it. Move on. 9 will address this and you will find something else to cry about.
          • Which idiot?

            Calling people names doesn't improve your case.

            Whatever the advantages in the Win8 kernel, there are deficiencies in the UI that can't be patched without 3rd party software. Comparing an invisible improvement in basic operation with a very real and annoying impediment to my productivity is a problem that won't go away no matter what label you apply to me.

            I think a touch-enabled interface will be great on a touch-enabled device, but there's no place for such a device on my desktop at work. I remember when Windows for Workgroups 3.1 got installed on my machine, and the immediate increase in productivity it gave over the DOS command line and ANSI-graphic menus in WordPerfect. Nothing like that happened when I installed Windows 8, and it's not because I'm a Luddite who resists change for the sake of resistance.
          • If the shoe fits...

            ragoff, but he is acting very idiotic. Classic Shell works wonders on Windows 8 machines for folks that prefer the Old School Windows environment. Plus you get a much better Windows, better support, future proofing. There are extremely few reasons to stick with Windows 7, and the UI is not one of them.
          • RE: If the shoe fits...


            I would just like the ability in Windows 8 to turn off the Metro Desktop to save memory and other resources that's all i ask. I'm not a major fan of the metro interface since well most desktop and labtops don't have touch screens, and touch screen availability has out there since Windows XP.

            But you should have the choice between choosing which of the two desktops you want to use and being able to disable the other to save resources.
          • Classic shell

            Classic Shell works on Windows Vista. I use it on my core 2 duo laptop. You can make the start menu look more like the one in Windows 7, plus it adds the toolbar back to windows explorer..with the copy, paste, cut buttons. Something I never forgave microsoft for removing.
          • That isn't an excuse for name calling

            Even if you were right. But you aren't.

            First, you should never have to install a third party add-on to make an OS usable. Metro is clumsy on system without touch input. Yes, you can work around it. Some people may even prefer it. But Win8 wasn't designed for these users. Because MSFT's business model didn't consider them, except peripherally. Classic Shell and other apps correct a fundamental failing in the OS. There's no excuse for that.

            Second, Win8 is lousy on a touch device if you have to step outside of Metro to do anything that requires a keyboard. And that's pretty much a given, unless the user's needs are *very* limited. Win8 Desktop does not automatically bring up the on screen keyboard when you select a text entry box. Once you bring up the OSK, it doesn't rearrange the screen to make sure the keyboard isn't blocking the box. These are things that Android and iOS handle smoothly.

            That just shows that MSFT didn't put a lot of thought into the interface, even for their target market (mobile users). Many of the improvements they've made under the hood are excellent. But that doesn't get you anywhere if the interface constantly gets in the way.

            I did find a bit of a workaround, using a third party OSK, although there are still some issues. But it's a paid version. I have no problem paying for software, if it does the job. But this should not have been necessary for such a basic function as keyboard data entry.

            Calling someone an idiot and saying they're acting idiotic? Two very different things. The latter is criticizing behavior, but the former is making a statement about the person. Not cool.
          • Exactly

            Classic Shell and Start8 make Win8 more palatable, but why should we rely on 3rd party air fresheners to hide Microsoft stink?
          • Classic Shell is good up to a point

            Classic Shell is a patch to stem the bleeding. But it has limitations. On my parents' desktop computer I got them the amateurish "flat" look of the Win 8 graphics doesn't help them discern where to point the mouse, etc. It's an UGLY UI that does not help users. Win7 graphics have depth.

            Sure, improve under the hood, but keep desktop interface like a desktop interface. I have two 27" monitors out of arm's reach. I have no desire to stand up and touch them.

            Win 8 is probably a great touchscreen OS, but I do not own any Microsoft tablets and probably never will. But I do use Microsoft OS desktops and Win8 is horrible for that. Classic Shell and Start8 make it more palatable, but why should we rely on 3rd party air fresheners to hide Microsoft stink?
          • @ragoff, well said!

            There are a large number of people, including me, who do not believe that Win8 improves productivity. Like hayneiii, I find the UI exhaustingly awful to use. That does not make me a luddite nor does it make me anti-MS. It's a shame that there are so many MS shills and trolls on ZDNet who simply cannot understand a differing point of view.
          • RE: Well Said

            One Left Foot,

            What that makes you is an honest person. At first when i say Windows 8 come i almost had mistaken it for a Florida voting machine, but then i realized Microsoft was being serious.

            Unfortunately it's Microsoft's attempt to get into the Cell phone market that really brought about Windows 8. And let me tell you, if the newer machine weren't as power friendly as they are now, there would be no place for Windows 8.
          • paid shills

            so many who comment are paid by Microsoft to patrol the message boards.
          • Yes, ChazzMatt

            because as you have shown us, since you dislike Windows 8, anyone who does like it must be a paid MS shill, and are here only because they are paid to troll these message boards.

            I mean if that wasn't the case, then the alternative would have to be that many people do not agree with you, and will have their own honest point of view, at which point you would be forced to accept that the world, and the people in, can and do function quite nicely on their own, without you.
          • Paid Shills?! Watch It...

            I don't work for MSFT, bu I use all of their OSes, including the one's y'all hate-- Win8.
            I use it without a need for the 3rd party extras.
            Step up.
          • Exactly, One Left Foot

            and maybe one day, if you yourself actually except a differing point of view, you may yet become an honest man, and understand that (contrary to you accusations) just because someone posts that they like Windows 8 (for whatever reason) it does not mean that Microsoft paid them to say that.

            To be seen as an honest man, you have to actually be honest in your words.
          • We Adapt, We Evolve

            or We Die