What the end of Windows 7 Mainstream Support means

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 13, 2015
Updated • Jul 12, 2018

Mainstream support for the Windows 7 operating system ends today.

Windows 7 is the operating system with the largest market share currently as it is used on more than 50% of all desktop systems according to several independent usage share tracking companies.

Mainstream support is the first of three support phases of any Microsoft operating system. It is followed by an extended support phase and a final phase in which a product is not officially supported by Microsoft anymore but help and information about it is still available online.

Today's end of mainstream support for Windows 7 marks the end of the first phase and the beginning of the extended support phase.

But what does it mean for existing Windows 7 users and companies?

Microsoft will produce security updates for the system during the extended support phase just like before. The second phase ends January 14, 2020 which means that devices running Windows 7 will receive important security patches until that time.

Since features are not added anymore to the system, it may mean that new technologies won't be supported by it. Some features landing in Microsoft's upcoming operating system Windows 10, DirectX 12 for instance and the Edge browser, won't be made available for Windows 7.

It is still possible that some tools and programs will be released individually by Microsoft that support Windows 7 though.

Microsoft plans to release Windows 10 in the fourth quarter of 2015. It is likely that it will run upgrade promotions during that time as well and it is even rumored that some users may receive updates to Windows 10 for free.

Nothing is set into stone yet but what seems certain is that Windows 8 is out of the picture.

Products Released Lifecycle Start Date Mainstream Support End Date Extended Support End Date Service Pack Support End Date
Windows 7 Enterprise 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Enterprise N 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Home Basic 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Home Premium 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Professional 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Professional for Embedded Systems 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013
Windows 7 Professional N 10/22/2009 1/13/2015 1/14/2020 4/9/2013

Considering that new versions of Windows are released every three years right now, it is theoretically possible to wait until the version after Windows 10 gets released (Windows 11 or whatever Microsoft may call it). It would be available in the fourth quarter of 2018 if things remain as they are right now.

With all that said, rumors suggest that Microsoft may change Windows development cycles and how the system is distributed (subscription based service) as well. Maybe additional information about all that will be made available later this month when a new version of Windows 10 will be released by the company.

Regardless of that, Windows 7 users can use the system safely for another five years before they need to make a decision on what to use afterwards.

Now You: Which operating system will you be using after Windows 7?

What the end of Windows 7 Mainstream Support means
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What the end of Windows 7 Mainstream Support means
What today's end of mainstream support for users of the Windows 7 operating system means.

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  1. LeeD said on April 27, 2015 at 5:42 am

    I have a dual boot system. Win 7 and Linux Mint 17. I really like the Mint GUI and you can customize it to make it look the way you want to. I didnt like the look of Windows 8 at all.
    Anybody who wants to dual boot should download Easy BCD and iReboot. That makes it easy. I can boot between Win 7 and Mint with just one click.

  2. duncan lucas said on January 19, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    I like the technical discussion on Win 10 here but like some I will not be “upgrading ” my Win 7 Prof but will go LInux. Not for the same reasons as put here but when I pay a lot of money for a PC it belongs to me NOT M$ . Win 10 will tie you into what M$ and the “trusted ” installer allows you to have.Windows account for apps only not local account . And then there is the “compatibility” assistant a big M$ trojan that stops you installing programs that you want .When “updates are applied you either get a blue screen or you find programs that happily worked for months are not only blocked but you cant re-install them . And dont mention the “administrator” just a sop to allow you a small latitude that M$ can live with-the real owner =SYSTEM and many more -no you cant do that by M$. And dont even mention SVHOST every action on your PC sent to all parts of the World -now who does that help ?? I have the minimum updates on my PC and no I am not attacked by hackers only the “official ” ones. I have a local account and that wont change I dont need M$.s “”apps”” .This is restrictive practices by M$ but it wont work as there is LInux etc available and yes many IT business section people agree with this one M$ engineer(private) said M$ will lose out in the end .

  3. Frosch said on January 19, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    I’m always interested in MSFT products; however, I no longer recommend nor use their OS. I have clients that are still tied to the MSFT purse string and always will be; for that reason I am required to be knowledgeable in maintaining Windows machines.

    Personally, I use Linux Mint and Elementary OS; if need be, I will run an instance of Windows in VM for client support and/or machine troubleshooting.

  4. Patrick said on January 14, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Win 7 forever. Computer security in Corporations is a Joke. Corporate officers have no idea what computer security is, likewise for Computer Disaster Recovery plans. They both go hand in hand. Corporations will not properly fund any function that does not bring a profit. They will not allocate any resources, whether money or personnel, that affects the bottom line negatively.

  5. CHEF-KOCH said on January 14, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Same here, I don’t like what MS did with the OS. I think it’s a bad idea to make one os (kernel) for all systems (arm/mips/x86/amd/intel,…) which in fact work very different, for example arm apps only working on the arm platform (well it’s logical), that is one if the biggest problem and a very big epic fail imho. It’s better to optimize for each platform there own stuff, a gamer or developer does not and never will use any tiles .. for what – if the application is in fullscreen the whole day?
    And because of such I stick with 7 as long as possible. For my tablet and smartphone I use Android and that’s it, no need Windows Phone or other worst systems that need other apps with each new system and configuration. I think to manage more than two OS is almost impossible for a non tech person, it’s very hard to track all changes, get all updates watch and read all stuff to really get a good and of course secure os. It consumes to many time for nothing.
    I now thinking about two or more years to switch completely to Linux, the performance is almost the same as under Windows, even in newer games that are back-ported to opengl (dependency on the engine and mostly not the game itself). But it’s not only because performance reasons it’s more how the OS marketing getting to work in the future, I think Windows will one day entirely free for all and you only have to pay for external thinks you really need (such as Decoders, external Software and such) this is imho the best idea since 90% the people I know install cracked software and the OS and MS now realize that more and more. The free upgrade stuff was only the beginning.
    I think Windows 10 does not fix anything since the whole metro/tablet story is a logical failure (as said) but it would be help to may get an choice to directly use x or y desktop or and auto detection feature which can be changed also manually but we will see. Another good point would be that (I know it would be possible but they don’t want it) they give us the change to hold on older systems which get the ability to upgrade the kernel to the newest so that no matter which system you are use, you are still able to upgrade to the newest (free os but xy money to upgrade to latest kernel) that would be really a benefit for all but so many ideas over the years and they only change the damn gui…. *sigh*

  6. Ricky said on January 14, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    @OldRedNed – I am currently dual-booting Win 8.1 with Linux Mint 17.1 KDE and have been using the latter more frequently. I always felt that Linux was going to be a huge challenge for me, but I decided to buckle down and give the distro a shot. I have learnt quite a lot in a short space of time and quite frankly I am very drawn to Linux. I am seriously thinking to removing Windows permanently.

  7. OldRedNed said on January 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    Soon-to be-redundant Windows 7 is used by more than 50% of all desktop systems and redundant Windows XP is still used by an estimated 25% of all desktop systems. So about 75% of Microsoft O/S are ready for the ‘scrap heap’. Pretty cool. Would you call this ‘Shafting the Customer’? Linux anyone?

  8. Sleeping said on January 14, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Windows 8.1 to windows 10 upgrade will be free? :)

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 14, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      I would not hold my breath but yeah, it is a possibility.

  9. Bambang Est said on January 14, 2015 at 8:37 am

    For me, Windows 7 is better than windows vista and windows 8. Windows 7 also another successfull Windows OS after windows XP.

    And now I’m still waiting for Windows 10 turn out.

  10. Neal said on January 14, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Going against the grain here, using Windows 8.1. It is just like Windows 7, once install a start menu replacement, ( i use is startisback), then change all file associations away from metro apps to desktop apps. Once you set it up, you can ignore metro 95 percent of time.

    The 5 percent of the time when you are forced into metro, it is to do things like toggle restart safemode which is now only accessible in Metro. It isn’t a big deal, I go for weeks without having to touch metro.

  11. James Watt said on January 14, 2015 at 3:18 am

    We will continue to support Windows 7 for as long as possible. It’s still the apex of the Microsoft stack as far as business is concerned. We are running Win10 previews in house here and for desktop business users, there are 0 advantages to making a switch.

    Honestly, many of us are fed up with Microsoft licensing nonsense, which seem to cost more and more every year. Since they announced technet would be killed off (2 years ago) we’ve been working on open source replacements or even going with an Apple platform. Apple, while always adding new features, have maintained the same platform for 14 years (OS X.) This means that users aren’t constantly confused by a changing tool. When you go to work every day, this is just a tool. No one wants to have to re-arrange their entire workflow so that Microsoft can sell us a new operating system.

    To all of the linux people here: lol. Most business software isn’t available on linux. And emulation from linux is a joke.

    1. mark said on January 21, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      >> And emulation from linux is a joke

      Says the guys with no understanding of programming….

    2. Ed Howdershelt said on January 19, 2015 at 5:17 am

      > James Watt: Most business software isn’t available on linux. And emulation from linux is a joke.

      Most business software? Some can’t escape proprietary Win software provided by industry contractors (insurance company-issue wares, medical device manufacturers using Win, etc), but I’ve successfully weaned too many small businesses off Win to believe your ‘most’.

      re: emulation… true, some Win wares work, some don’t. Could be because Linux isn’t trying to be Win.

      Consider, though, that Microsoft appears to prefer forcing customer dependency via draconian measures rather than developing customer loyalty by reasonable pricing and cooperative reasoning.

      Windows is a product created for Microsoft’s benefit only.
      Linux is a similar product, but for everyone’s benefit.

      Blasphemy as this might be to some, there is nothing to prevent the creation of profitable proprietary software for Linux.

  12. Thom said on January 14, 2015 at 2:59 am

    I’d rather go back to XP myself but I have to deal with 7.

  13. Dan said on January 14, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Manjaro Linux.

  14. Ed Howdershelt said on January 13, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    creds: I had a mobile computer repair business in Central Florida for 2 decades.
    Only about a quarter of my repair calls were actually about hardware issues.
    Thanks, Microsoft. Fixing broken Windows has paid a lot of my bills over the years.

    more creds: I’ve been using various versions of Linux on my personal computers since Xandros sent me an evaluation copy in 2002. My current faves are Puppy Linux 6 for small size and portability and Mint 17 for full desktop operations.

    imo: Linux lags in high-end, bleeding-edge, state-of-the-art gaming, but anything else you can do in Windows can also be done in Linux Mint with very little learning curve.

  15. Paul(us) said on January 13, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Probably Mint Linux.

  16. techandlife said on January 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Here’s another who hopes to go to Linux after Windows 7. The decision isn’t clear cut though. Many publishers still insist that authors submit manuscripts in MS Word doc format and won’t budge on accepting other formats. Another problem with moving to Linux for me is the lack of native support for Evernote. I do know that both Word and Evernote will work after a fashion under Wine. Perhaps things will have changed by 2020 when Windows 7 support ends but I just can’t see myself buying another Microsoft OS after Windows 7.

    1. anon said on January 13, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Libreoffice handle doc nicely.

    2. InterestedBystander said on January 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      I went to Linux at home a couple of years ago. Ubuntu for desktop PC, Mint for a couple of under-powered laptops. Great relief to be off the Windows merry-go-round… no more guessing if the newest Windows is going to be worth the cost of an upgrade or not, no more waiting for antivirus updates and scans, no more waiting until patch Tuesday for system updates. I like the choice of GUI, I like the straightforward user privilege management, I like being able to find OS info and apply fixes myself. Not for everyone, I suppose, but I’m very happy with Linux.

      For what it’s worth, Libre Office does word-processing suitably, and can save in MS-formatted *.doc and *.docx. Spreadsheet and presentation software in Libre can save as MS-compatible formats as well. There’s some glitch in image insertion, and Office macros are out of the question. (Though Libre does have its own macro-scripting language.)

      Libre’s toolbar is roughly similar to pre-ribbon Word. And it has an actual help library, instead of a link to a sloppy-and-sleazy MS web archive.

      1. anon said on January 13, 2015 at 8:25 pm

        I went Linux for a couple of years. That was fun time of bug hunting whenever an update goes wrong.

        It was ‘fun’ experience and I can handle it just fine if I have to, fortunately I don’t have to.

  17. InterestedBystander said on January 13, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Sigh. When I started my job at a medium-sized public utility, our industrial automation system ran on Linux. Windows was considered too unstable for machine control. The vendor brought out a Windows version in 1998, and in 2003 our plant upgraded to a Win XP system. We will be on Win 7 by 2017, probably. (I wish I could say we jumped on the Win 7 upgrade as fast as we could, but the facts are different.)

    With industrial automation, there are two layers of conservative delay: vendors are slow to release innovations because testing must be very thorough when your software is expected to control powerful, dangerous machinery. And installations are slow to upgrade once new systems are released, both because of the expense and because any major changes in control algorithms must be tested carefully as well. The result is that industrial automation can lag OS release cycles by… well, as much as Microsoft’s regular support cycle of 6 years. (I’m sure this dynamic applies to realms other than industrial automation as well.)

    OK, OK. So with vendors offering ever-increasing connectivity options — “Run your water plant from a tablet over the internets!!” — and with contaminated-USB devices more common, security updates are critical.

    So anyway. If MS shortens OS support cycles then it’s gonna be increasingly hard for industry to keep up. Yeah, they may be able to buy extended support packages. Probably many won’t, and we’ll see more stuff like the recent hack of a German steel mill that shut down a blast furnace — except it will be power grid or a food processor or a sewage plant that gets compromised.

    Perhaps government will step in and mandate security support for critical industries. Or (less likely) vendors will move to an OS engineered for long-term secure use (hardened Linux with sandboxed utilities for Windows interoperability?). Interesting times.

    Just speculation.

  18. Kaker said on January 13, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    I’ll probably go full Linux after Win7. Especially if they’ll go with the subscription model.

  19. Karl said on January 13, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Mint Linux. :)

  20. Ananda said on January 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm


    What about Windows 7 Ultimate?

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 13, 2015 at 4:07 pm

      The same as for all other Windows 7 editions.

  21. guy2 said on January 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    I will remain on windows 7 as long as it works. I don’t love ’tiles’ ‘metro’ stuffs. So no windows 8+ for me.

    1. LeeD said on January 17, 2015 at 5:31 am

      I agree. I dont like the “mod” look of Win 8. After that I will go to the free Linux. I like Mint or Zorin. Right now I am doing a dual boot. No more buggy Windows for me!

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 13, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I’m interested to see how Windows 10 turns out. If it turns out to be as great as W7, I’ll probably upgrade my main system to it. If it turns out to be a dud, I wont.

      1. Budley007 said on January 14, 2015 at 3:18 am

        Same here, Martin. It may be too early to tell, but I have a feeling Windows 10 will end up being the upgrade that all those Windows 7 users were waiting for.

        If it’s as successful as I’m hoping it will be, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Microsoft accelerated the support cycle on Windows 8 to synchronize with Windows 7’s “Extended Support End Date” of 1/14/2020. Probably a bit far-fetched, but you never know.

        Of course, all bets are off if Microsoft adopts a subscription model for the Windows OS. (big mistake, IMO)

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