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Mar 17 2017

Microsoft Un-Supports Windows Vista

After a 123-month run, Microsoft will officially pull the plug on any Windows Vista installations that may still exist on April 11, 2017. Users who are still running the ancient OS should switch to a more recent version.

It's official: In three weeks and four days from now, Microsoft will terminate extended support for Windows Vista, thus finally ringing the death knell for one of the company's most-disliked and most-misunderstood achievements. As per usual, "end of extended support" means Redmond is no longer providing security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates. Of course, PCs and laptops that have the old-timer pre-installed will still remain functional, but users would be ill advised to use them in any other way than as standalone systems that remain disconnected from the Internet (and any other network) after April 11.

Windows Vista debuted in January 2007 and was originally developed to fix the countless flaws and vulnerabilities that had plagued its predecessor Windows XP. But as the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In the case of Vista, this meant that a vast majority of users abhorred Microsoft's efforts to make its desktop client more secure, mainly because they had a feeling that the OS would constantly try to interfere with whatever they were trying to accomplish. This was true insofar as early editions of Vista had a tendency to bombard users with popup notifications that would urge them to cancel or confirm a specific action. The idea here was to prevent customers from accidentally wrecking the file system, registry or other important installation components. But the poor execution stopped this plan dead in its tracks, as it prompted millions of users to skip the upgrade and stick with Windows XP even after they learned that there was an easy way to 'kill' the dreaded notifications. On the other hand, Windows Vista introduced numerous features and functions that are nowadays considered essential, for instance Windows Defender, Shadow Copy, User Account Control, and an early version of BitLocker. In other words, Windows Vista provided the underlying infrastructure for Windows 7 in pretty much the same way as Windows 8/8.1 later did for Windows 10 – and achieved similar popularity: According to Netmarketshare, it currently runs on 0.78% of all PCs worldwide, which means that even Windows 8 and Linux-on-desktop have a larger user base.

Given these numbers, it's not at all surprising to hear that Microsoft has no plans of offering paid support in the same way that it does for Windows XP, which still clocks in at 8.45% market share. For most customers, the reasonable thing to do in this situation is to follow Redmond's advice and invest in new hardware that's capable of running Windows 10, its latest desktop OS. Alternatively, they could try to get their hands on second-hand gear with previous Windows versions pre-installed. Particularly skilled and adventurous users might even leave the ecosystem altogether, but that's a long-term project and nothing to be achieved in less than a month.


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