Microsoft has warned that "mainstream support" for Windows 7 will be discontinued in January next year after publishing a roadmap showing that support for a range of popular applications will cease at the same time.
However, the products will be shifted to "extended support" for the next five years. Instead of updating these products by adding new features, it will simply provide security fixes and updates to improve reliability.
The shift in support may surprise many organisations that have recently upgraded from Windows XP on their desktop and laptop PCs to Windows 7 - partly because all support for Windows XP stopped at the beginning of the year, and partly to avoid upgrading to the widely criticised Windows 8 operating system.
Many organisations ought to be more concerned with the impending cessation of extended support for Windows Server 2003, which ends on 14 July 2015. Businesses across the world are running key internet-facing applications on Windows Server 2003 and will no longer be furnished with security patches and other important updates. They will need to migrate their applications, either on to new server platforms or to cloud-based services.
Microsoft does, though, offer better support than most other software companies, with a minimum of 10 years for Business and Developer applications, and mainstream support on operating systems for five years and extended support for a further five years.