December 10, 2013
Microsoft Windows 7 Operating Software Being Discontinued
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The end is near, at least for those wanting to stick with Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft has announced that it has already discontinued the distribution of retail of copies of Windows 7. The company stopped shipping versions of the OS in October, and while retailers may still have copies for sale the company will no longer package and supply the official retail version.
According to the Windows lifecycle fact sheet, sales of Windows 7 machines will continue at least until next year. While Microsoft had previously suggested that the sale of computers with pre-installed software would end on October 31, 2014, it removed that information from its website this week, which may mean the lifecycle of Windows 7 will be extended.
The company sent a statement to The Next Web on Monday, which clarified some details.
“We have yet to determine the end of sales date for PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TNW. “The October 30, 2014 date that posted to the Windows Lifecycle page globally last week was done so in error. We have since updated the website to note the correct information; however, some non-English language pages may take longer to revert to correctly reflect that the end of sales date is ‘to be determined.”
While this move by Microsoft may be in part an attempt to increase the market share for Windows 8, which arrived in October 2012, and was recently updated to Windows 8.1, the adoption for the new OS has been slow going.
NetMarketShare’s latest figures show that Windows 8 and 8.1 now collectively have about 9.3 percent market share compared to 46 percent for Windows 7. Microsoft stopped mainstream support of Windows XP, and yet it still retains about 31 percent of the market share.
So the question now is why Microsoft is noting the end of the line for Windows 7, even as the lifecycle website suggests it will retain mainstream support through January of 2014, and extended support into 2020!
“My guess is the move is probably two-fold,” said Craig Stice, senior principal analyst for computer platforms at IHS Electronics & Media. “One to help boost sales and push Windows 8.1 which I think most know has been sluggish since launch.”
“Second I would say is to also try and reduce the confusion to the consumer by simply limiting choices,” Stice told redOrbit. “The usual support cadence would say they’ll continue to support Windows 7 for quite some time still.”
In other words, this isn’t entirely the end of the line for Windows 7.
“This end of commercial availability is the official death knell of an operating system, but like many things it can just take a while for the patient to actually expire,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told redOrbit. “Windows 7 is still very popular with business users.”
“Microsoft went through this with XP and it had to push the end of life down the road, and it would be likely go through [sic] a similar process with Windows 7,” King added.
While all good things will eventually come to an end, it likely won’t include the Windows start button. Although the button disappeared with Windows 8 and its original modern user interface it has since returned with Windows 8.1.
Moreover, TechCrunch on Tuesday reported that Microsoft is already considering a launch date for the next generation of Windows, which could arrive as early as 2015.
This could take a step back from the touchscreen friendly modern UI, and these early reports suggest the start button will be a part of this next Windows.
“The fact that Microsoft had to reintroduce the start button proved that the company made a mistake by removing it,” added King. “Windows 8 is an interesting OS and a powerful one, but when you decide to get rid of a signature piece of functionality that has been there for going on 20 years you better make sure that people are ready to see it go away.”
The next transition in Windows could thus be less radical than that from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
“It was painful enough for consumers, especially as Windows 8 was primarily designed for laptops and all-in-ones devices,” said King. “But for business customers where hundreds or thousands people were trying to get past the learning curve it has been a big problem as it made a serious impact on business productivity.”