Sorry fans, the ride is almost over, says world's top PC OS maker; venerable OS enters extended support era, will hit EOL in 2020

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has two words for consumer holdouts who don't care for Windows 8.1 and aren't overly impressed by Windows 10 -- "too bad".

The Redmond, Wash.-based software and service giant stuck to its guns ending mainstream support of Windows 7 today (Jan. 13).  That move marks the end of active development for the operating system (think features in Service Packs).

The move follows Microsoft pulling the plug on Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate license sales to OEMs on Oct. 2014.  Some OEMs may opt to offer Windows 7 Professional -- which has yet to hit end of sales (EOS) -- but most have moved on to Windows 8.1.

With this week's end of "mainstream support" Windows 7's consumer editions now enter the "extended support" phase where Microsoft will continue to provide some updates/hotfixes to patch critical security flaws.

Windows XP hit end of life (EOL) on April 8, 2014, marking the end of extended support for the consumer SKUs of the OS.  Windows 7 joins Windows Vista which entered the "extended support" era in April 10, 2012.  Windows Vista will hit EOL on April 11, 2017 and Windows 7 will enter EOL on Jan. 14, 2020.

Windows 7 screenshot

Of course for those desparate for a new machine with Windows 7 onboard, there are some options left still.  Some etailers have been stockpiling consumer Windows 7 licenses.  While prices will likely rise as these stockpiles wane, that's one option for now.  For now you can still get Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition or 32-bit Edition for $99.99 USD from Newegg.  Windows 7 Professional SP1 is currently retailing for $139.99 USD on the site and Windows 7 Ultimate is selling for $189.99 USD.

If you're on the fence, one option is to buy Windows 8 Professional and exercise your "downgrade rights" to revert to a Windows 7.  This still requires a Windows 7 license (so you'll have to buy one, presumably or scrounge up an unused one), but it allows you to revert back to Windows 8 at any given time, giving you an upgrade path to Windows 10 and beyond.

Source: Windows Support Schedule

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