We have been advised that Microsoft has instructed its various partners to cease shipment of PC’s with Windows 7 pre-installed or “in the box” and has also advised retailers to stop selling Windows 7 licenses. As of this month, Windows 7 goes into “Extended Support mode” which means the countdown has started on the cutoff of long term support for Windows 7.
What does this mean for you? For your current Windows 7 systems it really means nothing as Microsoft will be supporting Windows 7 with security and other patches for some time to come. However, if you had planned on purchasing new systems in the future with Windows 7 then you might have a problem. In the past, whenever we have seen Microsoft issue a “stop sale” order it has taken a bit of time for product in the distribution pipelines to become exhausted. So, there is a small window of opportunity to order systems out of the various distribution channels that will still arrive with Windows 7 either installed or “in the box”. You can expect that window of opportunity to be short (weeks, not months).
Windows 7 licenses available for purchase as standalone items will also evaporate pretty quickly.
Going forward systems will ship with Windows 8.1 and, sometime late this year, systems should start to ship with Windows 10. Windows 10 is intended to be the “true” successor to Windows 7 and promises a return to the desktop orientation found in Windows 7 vs the “tablet” orientation found in Windows 8 and 8.1. Microsoft is putting a great deal of effort into Windows 10 and the hope is it will prove to be far more “friendly” to business users and business software providers than 8/8.1 has been. The onus is definitely being put on software vendors to bring their applications “up to date” in order to work properly in the new Windows world. I believe software vendors will be much more inclined to make their apps work in Windows 10 than they have been in Windows 8/8.1 so, overall, the move towards Windows 10 should be “a good thing”. Also, Microsoft has announced the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for one year from the release date of Windows 10 to users of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1! So purchasing a system now with Windows 8.1 installed will set you up for Windows 10 as soon as it is available.
Personally, I think the “fear” of Windows 8/8.1 has been pretty over-hyped and there are tools to make Win 8/8.1 look and act a lot like Windows 7. Windows 8/8.1 is a pretty fine O/S under the covers and I don’t think this relatively short period of no Windows 7 availability prior to Windows 10 arriving should stop you from refreshing systems. Certainly, there is a compelling argument that can be made for getting the hell off your old XP boxes and going to Windows 8.1 for the short term. The doom and gloom predictions for Microsoft going forward are, in my view, also misguided. Microsoft is doing incredible things in the Cloud world (hello Office 365, I’m talking about you …) and you can be sure they are pouring their heart and soul into Windows 10, as well. Microsoft is never better than when they perceive they are the “underdog” (yes, an odd statement to make about a company their size, but true nevertheless) so keep an eye on what they release over the next 12 months. The Cloud offerings and Windows 10 are going to be pretty awesome!