Microsoft Windows 7 support and sales cutoff dates worth knowing

Microsoft Windows 7 support and sales cutoff dates worth knowing

Summary: Don't worry, though, Windows 7 fans: There's still another year until PC makers won't be allowed to sell new machines with Windows 7 preloaded.


The long, slow march toward end-of-life of Microsoft's currently most popular operating system is underway.

As of October 30, 2013, Microsoft ceased selling boxed copies of Windows 7 at retail. (ZDNet's Ed Bott posted back in April of this year about the pending October 30 cut-off date, but a few stories have popped up this week about it, so this is just a reminder.)

This October 30 cut-off date doesn't mean that OEMs or retailers are no longer selling PCs with Windows 7 preloaded. I can verify after a trip earlier this week to the Datavision computer store in New York (as part of my ongoing hunt for a new Windows PC) that there are plenty of Windows 7 PCs still for sale. OEMs can continue to sell PCs preloaded with Windows 7 until October 30, 2014.

Update (December 10): Microsoft is now saying it goofed in publishing the end of preload date being October 30, 2014. Instead, that date has yet to be determined, the Softies claim. 

Microsoft's explanation of what these dates mean, via its Windows Lifecycle Support Page:

"Note that when the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled."

Mainstream (free, Microsoft-provided) support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed isn't expiring until January 13, 2015. Microsoft will continue to provide security fixes for Windows 7 for free until the end of extended support, which is January 14, 2020 -- unless Microsoft ends up extending that support date, as it did with Windows XP.

If you're in the market for a new Windows 7 PC, Bott posted earlier this year about where you'd be most likely to find one.

Users purchasing Windows 8.1 Pro also have downgrade rights to Windows 7 Pro. The Frequently Asked Questions FAQ document about downgrade rights is here.

Update: Speaking of end-of-support dates, there were a few reports this week about the Chinese government supposedly requesting an extension of Windows XP's planned end-of-support date of April 2014. 

Microsoft's official response to this request (via a company spokesperson) is no.

The long version of that statement:

"Microsoft works in partnership with industry and government in China to help create an environment that encourages entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation through the protection of intellectual property, as well as assisting in software legalization efforts in line with the nation’s policy priorities. We have seen great improvement in the adoption of genuine operating systems, productivity software and apps, as well as movement to cloud services, as a result of these efforts and we look forward to continued progress. Microsoft is committed to working with end-users, businesses and governments in China to migrate their systems to a modern OS that better protects against security threats and is designed for modern work and life usage scenarios.

"Every Windows product has a lifecycle, which begins when it is released and ends when it is no longer supported. For Windows XP, this lasted more than a decade. Customers will still be able to use Windows XP, but as a reminder, after April 8, 2014, Windows XP users will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft. We are very glad to see a great number of customers in China and all over the world obtaining tangible benefits of modernizing their IT investments from dramatically enhanced security, broad device choice to meet the needs of a mobile workforce, higher user productivity, and lower total cost of ownership by future-proofing their IT investments through deploying Windows 8."

Topics: Windows, 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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  • hmm

    Given that there's tools to restore most of Windows 7's look to Windows 8.1 easily available, I'm not sure why you would need to buy 7 at this point for typical use. If you want the start menu & desktop UI back, you can get it with free tools (or by paying Stardock $5 for commercial tools).

    At it's core 8.1 is a really solid OS, so it seems like the version worth grabbing these days.
    • Despite all the down flags you got, I agree

      You can make Windows 8.x look like Windows 7, less the Aero effects (although I gather there's even a workaround for that.)

      I really like Windows 7. But Windows 8 is a perfectly good imitator when set up right.
      • My biggest problem is the amount of setup time.

        I could spend hours upon hours working on setting up a Windows 8.1 system to get to the point where it works like Windows 7, but Windows 8/8.1 still love to rear their ugly heads so often that end users get confused.

        I hate having to bill for time where I know that had Microsoft put in the effort, so many people wouldn't be paying to fix something they didn't ask for.
        • They didn't ask for?

          As anything Microsoft (Or Apple or Google for that matter) included in their OS ever been asked for? Users never asked for a GUI, yet got one anyways. Users never even asked for the Start Menu, but they got it anyways ( much to the annoyance of users then:!topic/microsoft.public.win95.shellui/MEBAy63Qlbc ).

          Why is Microsoft advancing the UI here in Windows 8 all of the sudden a bad thing now? Why do people always expect things to remain the same, when they know first hand that is never the case?
          The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • advancing the UI here in Windows 8 all of the sudden a bad thing now?

            It's a bad thing because the MetroModern UI is not an 'advance' as far as the desktop goes - it's only an advance on touch screen mobile devices - where it really and truly is an advance over Win7.

            Sure people moaned back in the day when the start menu was first introduced, that's human nature to resist change, but they very quickly realised that it was a change for the better.
            The Win8 UI has now been around for around a year and still the majority of people do not like it - because on a conventional desktop it is NOT a change for the better.
            The Central Scrutinizer
          • Then don't use Metro apps on the desktop.

            No one is forcing you to. But the Start Screen is a huge advancement over the Start Menu. Personally, I like being able to finally see what I'm clicking on on my large screen monitor. I also don't feel claustrophobic anymore clicking on the Start Button.
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • Huge advance?

            Seriously? The Start Screen is not a huge advance and It's awful on a desktop. The horizontal scrolling is weird and harder to scan while the icons themselves are made more and more ambiguous.

            There are so many ways you could do the start menu one better but this is not it.
          • whats wrong with side way scrolling?

            How is side way scrolling weird? First, the monitor you are using is landscape. Side way layout means you see more. It take a second to orient yourself to get the scroll wheel going in the direction you want. Not really a big deal at all. I don't see how it's harder to scan horizontal than vertically. Maybe because you're used to vertical scanning but it doesn't take long to adjust. After all, you do read everything horizontally. If the icons are ambiguous, it's because the developer made it that way and not something Microsoft did. I made all my game icons small. Most of them are easy to identify because the developer included the name in the icon. A few are hard to identify because the graphic doesn't give a decent clue about the app. However, this is no different than on windows 7. If you pin an icon on the desktop or toolbar, the icons are the same as they would appear on the start screen. You can group those icons to better sort the icons into categories.
          • Huge advancement? How so?

            As a user of Windows 8.1 (and Windows 8.0 prior) I see zero benefit of the Start Screen over the Start Menu for a PC.But I'm willing to consider I've overlooked something. Can you let me know what these hug improvements are?
          • not huge, but better

            Just the fact that you can see more apps on the screen is an improvement. Since when is a narrow menu more usable than a full screen? It also allows to better organize your apps without resorting to using folders. Folders hide the apps and is just another layer you have to click through. Right now the tiles aren't that useful, but I can see a benefit when developers will start to use them to provide useful information and they will become more like widget that don't use up a ton of resources. I think that is better than the static icons of the start menu. The main coolant seem to be that you don't see the desktop. However, I don't see a benefit of seeing a desktop. You can't interact with the desktop and start menu at the same time. Also the human eyes are designed to focus on one thing. You aren't really looking at the desktop while searching for an app on the start menu unless you switch you focus back to the desktop. I don't really see that as being useful. The biggest advantage is if you do a search, you will get a full screen result page instead of a narrow list on the start menu. You don't have to click see more to get a full screen in a separate window. These aren't huge improvement, but they are improvements.
          • That is a personal opinion

            and not a statement of fact. Others differ from this view.

            Personally, I like Metro just fine on a touch screen. I can live with it on a non-touch device. And find it close to unusable on Server 2012 through a terminal server, though, as the keybindings don't always stick.
          • Sorry, it IS a statement of fact that the new GUI is worse

            Even after you get used to it, you are now spending 2-3 times LONGER to do the same pointing and clicking versus XP. You cannot set up all those Start Screen icons in as much space as in XP, so now you have to wait while the other icons 'waft' horizontally from screen to screen to screen to screen.. that was why we all wanted the task bar. But in XP, you can make LINKS rather than TILES, and so fit more into the same 'one page' screen.

            There are many other dysfunctional things about the UI in Win8, but the problem above illustrates the other problems. So in FACT (not opinion) you are spending much more time to do the same functions, even AFTER you get used to the new system.

            I've already harped on how MS is single-handedly causing mass inflation by its horrible 'new' design, so won't repeat all that again here. They should be jailed for this, sorry.
          • Wafting over the screen?

            I just hit the Windows key on my keyboard and start typing the first couple of letters of the application I want to launch, then press enter. Vista and 7 brought this feature, which was a huge move forward over XP.

            Windows 8 has improved upon that. I wouldn't switch back to 7 if you paid me, and there is no way I'd work on XP again.
          • Hitting that "single pixel" to bring up the Start screen

            It's not easy to bring up the Start screen when using Remote Desktop into a 2012 server. You have to hit that "magic, single pixel" in the bottom left corner using a mouse. It's easier if running Remote Desktop full screen, though.
          • That "single pixel" doesn't exist anymore.

            Besides, you have three different ways of accessing Start.
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • The "magic, single pixel" does indeed exist

            At least in the environment I have to access sometimes. I wonder who thought that putting a touch optimized UI on a server was a good idea...
          • "it's only an advance on touch screen mobile devices"

            Untrue. Take any touch screen desktop and you'll see right away the advantages. On a Non-touch desktop i can see where people lose the ease of use the UI change makes. Personally I wouldnt own a windows 8 desktop without a touch screen device, but if you give me an all in one with 8, im all over it.

            This might be strange for some people but for once microsoft got ahead of the ball. Desktops are moving to touch screen. triple device unification. thats worth while
            Shane Hudson
          • Desktops will NOT be moving to touch screen.

            For one thing working at a touch screen all day in a commercial environment will doubtless fall foul of DSE regulations - unless all desks are to be fitted with armrests....
            There's also the slight issue that people who do graphical work involving CAD etc are not able to ahieve the accuracy of cursor placement that a mouse provides.
            Probably also a host of other cases where touch screen is not as useful as a conventional screen and a mouse.
            If you really think that touch screen is ever going to replace a mouse on the desktop, then you sir, are living in cloud cuckoo land.
            The Central Scrutinizer
          • Just another input method

            It is only an option though. Not a replacement for a mouse and keyboard. I have been watching my fiancé work with 8 on a large touch screen. Start Screen and full screen apps usually get touched. Scrolling is done with touch sometimes but the mouse and keyboard also get used for specific tasks. I find touch more used for the quick Modern UI things, like checking mail and weather, while more complex tasks use the more precise options. You are right that sustained use of a touch screen on a desktop might be tiresome, but no one said the mouse and keyboard were going in the trash.

            As far as creative pros, this works well with Wacom pen input so there are advantages there too.
          • Touch will be on all desktops eventually

            All desktops (or docked tablets) will have touch screens in the future. They will also have a mouse and keyboard for the work you mention. But those are limited use case.

            Why people are so butt hurt about the idea of touch on desktop or anything for that matter, is beyond me. Its absolutely ridiculous to think the world was going to be stuck with mouse and keyboard only for the end of time.

            Most tasks can be achieved using touch. Amd touch is more intuitive because the user is physically connected to the interaction directly instead of through another tool.

            Keyboard and mouse will be secondary tools eventually. Used only by a limited number of users. So let Microsoft get ahead of the game for once and take your whiny ass somewhere else.