As of today, Windows Vista has left the mainstream support phase and entered the extended support phase of its lifecycle. Office 2007 is also in the extended support phase, entering this stage of its life on Monday.
The support lifecycle for Microsoft products is essentially categorized into two periods: Mainstream support, during which software receives the works — bug patches, security updates, etc. — and extended support, during which only security updates are available, and you will need to be a company with a paid contract with Microsoft to receive security updates.
Windows XP and Office 2003 will be in extended support until 2014, after which users will no longer receive any new support updates, bug fixes, or anything of that nature. Long overdue, considering that the OS launched back in 2001. Incredibly, its marketshare peaked at 76.1% back in January of 2007, and is at 30% as of February of 2012 according to w3schools. Astounding numbers for a nearly 11 year old operating system.
So, for those of you who are still on Vista, or worse, XP, should you upgrade? Microsoft certainly thinks so. To quote Stella Chernyak, who blogged about the lifecycle milestones:
We don’t recommend waiting. Not only is it important for companies to complete deployment before support runs out, but they should also be aware that by upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2010 today they can gain substantial results today while laying the foundation for future versions of these products. And with over 525 million Windows 7 licenses sold since its release, many customers are already taking advantage of everything Windows 7 has to offer.
This message is tailored towards business and enterprise of users, but the principle applies to the average consumer. For the best (and most secure) Windows experience, you’re better off updating to Windows 7 (or 8, when it is released.)