What happens to Windows 7 on October 31, 2014?

Microsoft is approaching the next cut-off date in Windows 7's lifecycle next month. Here's what is and isn't happening after October 31, 2014.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

I've gotten a few questions from concerned readers about a fast-approaching deadline date for Windows 7.


After October 31, 2014 -- Microsoft will no longer provide its PC partners or systems builders with copies of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and/or Ultimate to preinstall on new PCs. This means that OEMs will be able to continue to sell their stock of PCs running these versions of Windows 7, but they won't be allowed to replenish their supply.

(Last year, on October 31, Microsoft ceased selling shrink-wrapped copies of Windows 7 at retail.)

That looming October 31, 2014 deadline does not apply to PCs preinstalled with Windows 7 Professional, however. Microsoft officials said again this week they still have not yet gone public with the end of sales cut-off date for PCs running Windows 7 Pro. That lack of a firm cut-off date is a good thing for business users who are still leery of Windows 8 and waiting to hear more about Windows Threshold/Windows 9 before committing to buying PCs with those versions of Windows preinstalled.

The October 31, 2014 cut-off date has no implications for end of support or downgrade rights for Windows 7.

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.

On the downgrade rights front, users are still able to buy a new PC with an OEM license for a business edition of Windows and then install an earlier version. PCs with Windows 8.1 Pro can be downgraded to Windows 7 Professional or Windows Vista Business. Microsoft volume licensees don't have to worry about their OEM's downgrade rights provisions; they have the right to downgrade to any prior version of Windows.

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