When you buy software or hardware, you usually want to know how long the developer or manufacturer supports it. When it comes to Windows, the product lifecycle of each version of Windows is divided into mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support is the first phase of the product support lifecycle. It covers both security and non-security updates for the operating system, as well as complimentary support that is included with the license and paid support. The extended support phase provides users of the operating system with security updates, and paid support is available as well.
The Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems for instance are currently in the extended support phase, while Windows 7 and Windows 8 are in the mainstream support phase.
Microsoft has added Windows 8 and Windows RT to its product lifecycle search. Here is a list of Microsoft operating systems and their mainstream and extended support end dates:
- Windows XP: Mainstream support ended, Extended support end date: 8.4.2014.
- Windows Vista: Mainstream support ended, Extended support end date: 11.4.2017.
- Windows 7: Mainstream support end date 13.1.2015, Extended support end date: 14.1.2020.
- Windows 8: Mainstream support end date 9.1.2018, Extended support end date 10.1.2023.
- Windows RT: Not yet communicated.
- Surface with Windows RT: Mainstream support end date 11.4.2017, Extended support end date: not applicable as it is a consumer device.
Windows 8 mainstream support ends in 2018, while extended support will deliver security patches for the operating system for another 5 years afterwards. That's the expected time frame as it follows the support lifecycles of previous versions of Windows.
It is interesting to note that Microsoft will support its Surface tablets until 2017. If you compare that to the product lifecycle of other tablet devices, you will notice that this is a rather difficult thing to do, as most manufacturers do not reveal the lifecycle of their products on the Internet.
Microsoft has yet to communicate the Windows RT end of support dates, and it is not really clear why the dates have not yet been communicated. What's almost certain is that it won't end before the Surface's lifecycle ends.