PSA: Time to leave Windows Vista behind -- extended support ends in April

Vista

Windows Vista is probably the least-liked version of Windows that Microsoft has ever released, but, fact of the matter is, the 10 year old operating system has its fans, as it still runs on many PCs today. And that's a problem if you're part of the crowd, because next month it will stop receiving any kind of official support, leaving you exposed.

Mainstream support for Windows Vista actually ended on April 10, 2012, but Microsoft has since continued to offer support options and updates as part of its extended support phase. That will come to an end in less than 30 days from now -- on April 11. Here's what happens after that.

"After April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates," says Microsoft. "Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences."

It shouldn't come as shock that Microsoft wants everyone to move to a newer OS -- preferably Windows 10. Even Windows 7's mainstream support ended, two years ago to be exact, and it is a much more relevant OS. It is, in fact, the most-popular operating system today, and it will likely remain so for a few more years.

Extended support, in its case, ends on January 14, 2020, so users still have some time to upgrade. But, if you're among the Windows Vista holdouts, you only have a few more weeks until Microsoft cuts the support cord for good.

Truth be told, Windows Vista is nowhere near as popular if you look at, for instance, Netmarketshare's figures. With a usage share of around one percent, it looks like no one is using it. But, considering that there are over one billion PCs in use, that still leaves over 10 million PCs running a soon-to-be-unsupported OS.

Of course, Windows Vista will continue to work just fine past April 11, but if new security vulnerabilities or bugs are found -- and, let's be honest, that will happen -- Microsoft will not issue updates to fix them. You are on your own, basically.

Another thing to consider is what will happen to Windows Vista support when it comes to popular programs. Google, for instance, stopped supporting the OS in the Chrome browser nearly a year ago, and Mozilla is now doing the same thing with Firefox.

On Microsoft's side, the last version of Internet Explorer that's available for Windows Vista is Internet Explorer 9, and it's since been superseded by a handful of major releases, the latest of which can be considered Microsoft Edge, that's part of Windows 10.

If you look at Office, Microsoft actually even didn't bother to support Windows Vista in Office 2013, which came out four years ago. Office 2016? Same thing; it's only meant to run on Windows 7 and newer.

Sure, there may be programs that will continue to work and you can still run security software to keep your device as safe as you can, but fact of the matter is you are basically swimming against the tide here. You don't need to go far to realize this. Even Windows 7 is a huge step forward in terms of functionality, quality, compatibility and support, and it is the next-oldest version of Windows.

Chances are, if your PC can handle Windows Vista you should be able to upgrade to a newer version of Windows without any problems. Personally, I'd go with Windows 10 because it's modern and it will work without any support issues for many years to come.

In case you are wondering, Microsoft says that mainstream support for Windows 10 will end on October 13, 2020, while extended support is set to be over on October 14, 2025 -- unless Microsoft decides to keep it supported for longer, which is an option. Also, you can expect your favorite software to be supported for a very long period of time as well.

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