Windows 7 Mainstream Support Ends

John Lister's picture

As expected and according to Microsoft's Windows lifecycle page, Windows 7 mainstream support officially ended on January 13, 2015. It means there will be no more significant updates to the Windows 7 operating system, other than security updates.

The end of mainstream support is in line with Microsoft's general policy of offering support for its operating systems five years after being released, followed by extended support for a further five years. 

The only exception to this policy was Windows XP, where the total support period lasted for 13 years. That was largely because the system remained popular much longer than expected, thanks to the lack of interest in Windows Vista.

No More Windows 7 Service Packs or Free Support

So what does Windows 7 "end of mainstream support" mean?

In short, it means that Microsoft will no longer add any major, new features to Windows 7, and there will be no more service packs released to the public. However, Microsoft will continue to issue security updates and bug fixes free of charge for the rest of the extended support period. That's fortunate as the most recent figures suggest more than half of all PC users are currently running Windows 7.

Microsoft's free support for Windows 7 will also end. Consumers will no longer be able to get any support through phone lines or live chat; instead they will have to rely on Microsoft's website help databases or by using third party websites and solutions.

Business users will be able to choose from a selection of paid support options, which includes paying by the case, or by the hour. For the next 90 days, business users will also have the option to subscribe to a "hotfix" program that can automatically update any usability bugs without the need for IT staff to intervene. Security hotfixes, where issued, will remain free of charge for both businesses and consumers. (Source:

Windows 7 Security Updates Should Run For 5 More Years

As things stand, the extended support period for Windows 7 is scheduled to end on January 14, 2020. Microsoft's policy says the extended support period runs for five years, or until two years after the next-but-one system is released, whichever is later. (Source:

Given that this next-but-one system (Windows 10) is expected to be released some time this year, it's almost certain that 2020 will indeed be the final deadline. Microsoft will be hoping that's enough time that Windows 7 will no longer be widely used. That will save a repeat of the XP dilemma where Microsoft faced the unappetizing prospect of switching off security updates for a system that millions of people still used.

What's Your Opinion?

Will the end of mainstream support make any difference to you, and do you think it's reasonable for Microsoft to stop offering free Windows 7 help at this point? Do you think Windows 7 will still be widely used in 2020? Do you plan on upgrading to Windows 10 as soon as it becomes available?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (5 votes)


gi7omy's picture

W8 was a worthy successor to ME and Vista - which is all that can be said about it. Hopefully MS will manage to keep their record of every alternate iteration of Windows as workable (they've managed that since Windows 95/95A, 98/98SE and on down the line.

As far as I can tell, Windows 8 was Ballmer's baby - he wanted to push the MS touch screen technology and messed everything up for the rest of us

Tessman_Ian's picture


pctyson's picture

I have a dual boot system that includes Win 7 Pro and Linux Mint. Windows 8 is such a miserable joke that I will not install it. I purchased Windows 8 when it first came out but prior to putting Win 8 on my system I got a chance to try it out. I swore right then that I would not install it. After many opportunities with Win 8 since then, my resolve to not install it has only strengthened. I probably will be switching to Linux in the long run. I am getting much closer to getting off of the Microsoft roller coaster.

blueboxer2's picture

When I bought my big old Mercury in 1973 (don't laugh - my nephew still has it on the road as a daily driver since it's got more passenger room and is easier on gas than his far newer working pickup) Ford gave me a guarantee for a certain length of time on "everything", and under law had an obligation to continue to supply parts for a few years more.
But to say the least I have been on my own for decades now. Still, dealer parts stock lasted far longer than the minimum, dealers still liked the extra money doing service as needed, independent garages have always outnumbered factory stores dozens or hundreds to one, and whole specialty service industries sprang up. The same - or analogous - thing happened when Windows 3.1 was replaced by Windows 95 and has gone on with successive models of Windows since.
So yeah, if the bright shiny model coming down the pike really is so much better, and the price they want for it that attractive, and I don't have to invest in a whole new support infrastructure, and all the usual caveats, maybe I'll bite. Or maybe I'll do what I did when the factory warranty on my Mercury expired in 1974, realize the factory support is not the be-all and end-all of usability, and keep 'er going as long as she works.
After all,I still have my original installation discs from Windows 3.1 and a 5-1/4" floppy drive to run them on. Redmond may be warned accordingly!

rclark_3965's picture

"Microsoft's policy says the extended support period runs for five years, or until two years after the next-but-one system is release" - the actual link page however states
"Extended support — Microsoft will offer extended support for either a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product's general availability, or for 2 years after the second successor product (two versions later) is released, whichever is longer. "

John Lister's picture

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, and you are correct. We've edited the piece to remove the incorrect information, but will leave your comment and this reply so that others will know that the article has been modified.