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Microsoft Windows Lifecycle Policies

Over the years, we have seen several versions of MS DOS (3.2, 4, 5, 6) and Windows 3 (3.0, 3.1, 3.11), Windows 95, ME, 98, Windows NT 3.51, NT4, Windows 2000, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (plus all the server software). Users have not always been happy with it, so it is worth considering how Microsoft have provided support for their Windows products using their Lifecycle policies.

With every version of Windows, Microsoft have added more lines of code to improve the graphics and usability of their products as well as keeping up with the latest technological improvements such as the Mouse in Windows 1.0 and the introduction of USB in Windows 95. Microsoft have also tried several times to introduce new features which they have had to back track on as users were not ready or unhappy with them, such as Windows 8 with its interface designed for tablets instead of the start menu.

Microsoft has provided several levels of support for their Windows product following their Fixed Lifecycle Policy – until Windows 10 and where they follow their Modern Lifecycle Policy.

Fixed Lifecycle Policy

The Fixed Lifecycle Policy applies to many commercial and some consumer products currently available through retail purchase and/or volume licensing. It provides:

  • A defined support and servicing Lifecycle timeline at the time of product launch.
  • A minimum of five years Mainstream Support.
  • An additional period of Extended Support for some products.

Windows 10 – Modern Lifecycle Policy

With Windows 10, Microsoft decided to change strategy, they would no longer have a new product every 3-7 years that everyone would have to buy, and they even allowed existing users to upgrade for free from Windows 7 & Windows 8 (which you can still do)

The Modern Lifecycle Policy covers products and services that are serviced and supported continuously. Under this policy, the product or service remains in support if the following criteria are met:

  • Customers must stay current as per the servicing and system requirements published for the product or service.
  • Customers must be licensed to use the product or service.
  • Microsoft must currently offer support for the product or service.

The Modern Lifecycle policy in Windows 10 still has end of life, but as a user you do not see it.  But you may feel it.  (If you PC is not running as quickly as it has been, check if there are feature updates waiting in Windows update.  These often cause PCs to slow down.)

Legacy products

Windows 10 was released in July 2015 and Microsoft did not stop supporting Windows 7 until Jan 2020.  So how many devices are still running Windows 7?

In May 2021, more than a year after the end-of-life cycle around 18.6% of devices are still running Windows 7.  Interesting that Mac OS X has around 10 versions in use.  Chrome and Linux desktops are still lagging behind.

Platform Version Share
Windows 1066.70%
Windows 718.60%
Mac OS X 10.154.16%
Mac OS X 10.14 or below3.72%
Windows XP/8/Vista2.55%
Mac OS X 11.x1.57%
Chrome OS0.63%

Keeping older versions of Windows in production means that you are risking data that is held on them.  If you need to keep the device running as it runs a dedicated piece of equipment or application that does not work on Windows 10, then it is important to ensure that the device is not accessible to the internet or other devices that are connected to the internet.

Some hackers will try to discover other devices on the same network and infect them.  Pivoting around the network until they locate data which they may hold to ransom or publish on the internet.

If you know anyone who is running Windows 7 or complaining about the speed of their PC, give them our details and we can see if we can get them updated.