April 11 will be a life and death experience for users of Microsoft Windows and Office. It is the day that Microsoft rolls out the much-anticipated Windows 10 Creators Update, but also the effective end of life for Windows Vista and some parts of Office 2007.
Microsoft has offered a lot of comment on what to expect in the Windows 10 Creators Update, the latest being an April 5 blog post in which Windows and Devices Group (WDG) executive vice-president Terry Myerson and WDG Privacy Officer Marisa Rogers detailed the privacy enhancements in the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system.
For users of Microsoft Windows Vista, Exchange Server 2007, Office Communicator Phone Edition, Office InterConnect 2007 and several other smaller products, April 11 is the day Microsoft bids goodbye to any further commitment to update and support these products. From that day forward, Microsoft says there will be no new security updates, non-security updates, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates for any of the products reaching end of support.
This is not an unusual move for Microsoft – the company has routinely discontinued support for products when they hit their 10th birthday – and it’s rare that this happens without a degree of pushback from users.
When Microsoft finally ended support for Windows XP in April of 2014, the company had actually supported it for 12 years – and there were still a lot of users unhappy with the move as Windows XP still held an impressive 26 percent of the operating system market at that time (according to data from the Net Market Share Research service).
As Windows Vista loses its extended support, figures from the same source show a very different picture. Windows Vista accounts for less than 1 percent (0.72%, to be exact) of the desktop operating system market share.
The much-older (and more persistently popular) Windows XP has more than 10 times that amount, with 7.44% of the market share (meaning that it is ahead of Mac OS X 10.12, Linux and all other versions of Windows except Windows 7 and Windows 10).
Meanwhile, a recent study by Austin, Texas-based Spiceworks reports that medium-sized businesses will likely feel the biggest impact of the Windows Vista end of support.
“By company size, we found that medium-sized organizations with 100-1,000 employees are most likely to have at least one Windows Vista machine still hanging on – with a penetration rate of approximately 14%,” said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. “Enterprises with more than 1,000 employees are less likely to use Vista PCs (with a penetration rate of 9%), and small businesses with less than 50 employees are least likely to use Vista (with a penetration rate of only 7%).”
Nor will April 11 will pass without some recognition by individual users of Windows Vista. If you visit the Microsoft Answers user forums, you will find some users who still feel strongly about the loss of support.
“My Vista 64 desktop computer was purchased brand new from Best Buy seven years ago, and that in fact makes it 10 years NEWER than the 2000 Chevy Impala which I still CHOOSE to drive,” says a user with the sign-in name of JB104. ” The difference is …… I am still able to safely drive my beautiful red car because I can easily obtain OEM parts for it right down to the smallest screw!”
GeekWire’s own Todd Bishop even expressed his own lament for the ill-fated Windows Vista when mainstream support ended in 2012.
Note that Windows Vista won’t actually stop working after April 22, 2017 – it just won’t enjoy any security updates (or any other kind of updates) from Microsoft. If all you wanted to do was use a Vista machine to do some word-processing or spreadsheet work, for example, you could continue using the machine safely as long as it’s not connected to the internet.
Also be aware that Firefox will be continuing support for Windows XP and Windows Vista users of its browsers until at least September 2017, when the company says it will “re-assess” its commitment to these elderly versions of Windows.
Still, life — and end of life — goes on. The next big Microsoft “end of life” event will come in October for users of Microsoft Office 2007, when all the major components of Office 2007 (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Project, Publisher and Visio) will no longer enjoy extended support.