Goodbye Windows Vista: Microsoft's unloved operating system finally reaches the end of the road

It's time to move on, says Microsoft.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

VIDEO: Microsoft pulls the plug on Windows Vista

It's finally time to say farewell to Windows Vista. After today, the antique operating system will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.

"Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences," the company said.

Photo gallery: Installing Windows Vista

Windows Vista -- originally known by the codename Longhorn -- went on sale in January 2007 and soon became the least-loved version of Windows: 18 months after it was launched its reputation was described as "in shambles" by one industry watcher.

Part of the reason was its requirement for significantly more powerful PCs to take advantage of new features like the Aero graphical interface, while some complained about the support for DRM technology. Another issue was that Windows XP was just too well-entrenched and Vista took too long to arrive, and was rapidly overtaken by its now much-loved successor Windows 7.

By October 2010, Microsoft ended retail sales and stopped selling PCs with it installed a year later; mainstream support for Vista finished on 10 April 2012. The passing of Windows Vista is unlikely to bother too many people: according to NetMarketShare, Vista has a puny 0.7 percent share of PCs connecting to the internet, compared to Windows XP with around seven percent and Windows 7 with nearly 50 percent.

According to Microsoft, PCs that continue to use Windows Vista after support has ended will be more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. The company also noted that, as Internet Explorer 9 is no longer supported, if you use Vista and IE 9 to surf the web, you might be exposing your PC to additional threats.

"Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista," added Microsoft.

Last gasp

It's not quite the end for Windows Vista updates though: although Microsoft has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows Vista, if a PC already has Microsoft Security Essentials installed it will continue to receive anti-malware signature updates "for a limited time".

"However, please note that Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other antivirus software) will have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware," the company said.

If you're not quite sure whether you're running Windows Vista or not, click on the Start button, and type 'winver' into the search box, then double-click 'winver' in the list of results to open the 'About Windows' dialog box, where you'll see the version of Windows that your PC is running.

Microsoft is encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 10; for Windows Vista users the options are either to buy Windows 10 or buy a new PC. Buying a new PC may be the better option for many of them as Microsoft warns: "You can purchase a full version of Windows 10, but you should first make sure that your computer can run it. Very few older computers are able to run Windows 10."

And for everyone still cheerfully running Windows 7, the clock is ticking for you too: mainstream support has already ended, and extended support ends on 14 January, 2020.

Read more on Windows

Editorial standards