Support for Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system will end on April 11, 2017; Microsoft won't publish public security patches anymore for Windows Vista after the Patch Tuesday in April 2017.
Windows Vista is currently in the so-called extended support phase. Microsoft divides the support period of its operating systems into mainstream and extended support phases.
Mainstream support refers to the first five years of product availability. The product may receive new features and updates in that period of time next to security updates.
When a product enters extended support phase after five years, only security updates are provided for it at this point in time. While Microsoft may push out other updates to the operating system, it is not mandatory anymore.
When extended support ends, only paying (Enterprise) customers may get another support extension. It marks the end of support for all Home users.
Reminder: Windows Vista support ends this year
Windows Vista's mainstream support ended on April 10, 2012. This is usually not a big issue for users who run Vista on devices considering that security updates are provided for another five years.
Feature updates may be welcome at times, but security updates are more important than that usually.
The end of extended support for Vista puts an end to public security releases for the operating system.
Users who run Windows Vista on devices have to make a decision when that happens:
- Stick with Windows Vista even though security updates are not provided anymore. This leaves security vulnerabilities unpatched which may increase the chance of being attacked successfully.
- Upgrade to a new version of Windows. Microsoft excluded Windows Vista from the free upgrade offer to Windows 10, and Vista keys are not accepted during the upgrade to Windows 10 (Windows 7 and 8.1 users can upgrade for free still). If the device is capable enough, you could grab a cheap key on eBay or another marketplace and use it instead.
- Switch to a different operating system entirely, e.g. a Linux distribution.
When support for XP ended three years ago, many users decided to keep on using the operating system. It seems likely that part of Vista's smaller user base will make the same decision and keep on using Vista.
Vista has a low market share of around 1% of the market. The operating system never managed to grab a sizeable share of the market. Windows XP, an operating system for which support ended three years ago, has still a market share of 9% just to highlight the difference in popularity.
The next Microsoft operating system to run out of support is Windows 7. This happens in 2020 though, which means that three years of security updates are still happening.
Now You: What is your suggestion for users still running Vista?