If you are a Windows user who does not like Windows 8 for one reason or the other but decided to buy a new PC, it is likely that you picked Windows 7 as your operating system of choice for it.
But, if you have not picked up a license of Windows 7 yet, then you may want to consider doing so this year as Microsoft has updated its end of sales information page.
When a product reaches end of sales, it is "no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)".
While that does not mean that existing copies will get removed, it is likely that it gets difficult to get your hands on a copy as OEMs may not build new products using the operating system once it reaches end of sales.
Microsoft lists October 31, 2014 as the end of sales for Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Ultimate.
The version missing? Windows 7 Professional. No date has been given yet, but Microsoft noted on the page that it will give one year of notice prior to the end of sales date for that operation system. This means that Windows 7 Professional will continue to be distributed to OEMs and retailers until at least February 2015.
One month prior to that, that is January 13, 2015 to be precise, marks the end of mainstream support for the Windows 7 Service Pack. Extended support on the other hand will be given until January 14, 2020.
The core difference between mainstream and extended support is that Microsoft drops several support related services when mainstream support ends. This includes non-security hotfix support, warranty claims, or design changes and feature requests.
Sales of an older operating system are stopped in retail one year and to OEMs two years after a system's successor is launched. As you may know, Windows 8 was launched in October 2012 which coincides with those end of sales dates.
So what is the reason for Windows 7 Professional's extended end of sales date? The most likely explanation is that the company wants to keep it available to businesses that are preparing or have started to deploy Windows 7 on their infrastructure.
End of sales does not necessarily mean end of availability either. If you check out eBay or Amazon right now, you will notice that older versions of Windows, Windows XP for instance, are offered on those sites.
What it means though is that consumers cannot buy systems with the operating system anymore from OEMs such as Dell or HP, while businesses still can.
The operating systems will continue to be available even after Microsoft's end of sales proclamation. It will become difficult however to buy consumer PCs running Windows 7, so that downgrading from Windows 8.x to Windows 7 is the remaining option for users who do not want to run Windows 8 (besides buying a license on marketplaces such as eBay, Newegg or Amazon that is).