Yes, yesterday, January 13, 2015, Microsoft ended Windows 7 “mainstream support,” but the deliberate fear-mongering by too many publications to increase readership is outrageous. The authors of those articles do, or at least should know better.
Those articles are confusing the public, including legions of photographers successfully using the operating system, implying Windows 7 has just entered the same graveyard as Windows XP.
It's just not true. To start, let's look at the Windows 7 timeline.
- October, 2009 — Windows 7 released to the general public,
- February, 2011 — Windows 7 Service Pack 1 released to the public,
- February, 2013 — Windows 7 SP1 Platform Update released to the public,
- October, 2013 — Windows 7 SP1 Disk Cleanup Wizard released,
- October, 2013 — Windows 7 “standalone sales” ended,
- October, 2014 — Windows 7 consumer computer sales ended,
- January 13, 2015 — Windows 7 “mainstream support” ended, “extended support” begins,
- January 14, 2020 — Windows 7 “extended support” ends.
To start, it means Windows 7 is now in what Microsoft calls, “extended support.”
In “extended support,” Microsoft continues to provide the critical security patches which have been supplied since Window 7's introduction, but Microsoft will no longer make any new developments to Windows 7. There won't be any new features coming for the operating system.
Microsoft also will continue to provide security “hotfixes” for Windows 7, and businesses can sign up for an extended “hotfix” support plan.
“Extended support” for Windows 7 will continue until January 14, 2020, five years from today, so don't go out an purchase any coffins for your Windows 7 computer, just yet.
In addition, to all those pundits out there headlining the death of Windows 7, it's even true that PC's for businesses with Windows 7 Professional installed will continue to be available for quite some time, likely at least until Windows 10 has been publicly available for a while.
Microsoft is expected to announce the Windows 10 release details in a week, on January 21, 2015. Insiders believe the new operating system will be publicly released late this year, 2015. We do know that its “technical preview” is currently scheduled to end on April 15, 2015.
Like many photographers, both my office workstation and laptop run on Windows 7 Professional 64bit. The Windows 7 operating system is a workhorse for me. It can handle the large amounts of memory which benefit programs like Adobe Photoshop, to help them run efficiently. For example, my workstation contains 20GB of ram installed.
Photographers and others also don't have to fear the end of software developers support for Windows 7 at this time either. No one has announced any end to enabling the use Windows 7 for their products.
With Windows 10, still many months away, and Windows 8.x being an unsatisfactory operating system, in my opinion, there is no reason for photographers and other Windows 7 users to consider moving to Windows 8.x to gain longevity, as most likely, by the time Windows 7 support actually ends, most users will have already moved to another computer and operating system.
For photographers and other users who need a new computer now, Windows 7, in my opinion, is still the way to go for Windows' users, not Windows 8.x, which will continue to have support past 2020.
When purchasing a computer today with Windows 7, one must keep in mind that in January, 2020, Windows 7 support will end, but, at this point, five years is an awfully long time in the world of computers. Most are functionally obsolete for business use within that time span. Once Windows 10 is released, the choice must be reevaluated, as so far, Windows 10 looks like it will be an excellent operating system.
(Microsoft Windows 7 Logo courtesy of Microsoft)