A common joke that flew around the help desk back in the day was that whenever someone changed operating systems from Vista to XP, we’d call it an “upgrade.” Such was the poor reception of Vista, that moving backwards to the previous OS was considered a marked improvement.

It was 10 years ago that Microsoft first released its problematic XP replacement, and now it’s time for it to be put out to pasture. Various market share reports show that Vista only accounts for about 1% of OS usage worldwide, but for those of you who have held onto that little relic, here’s what its end of life looks like.


What Microsoft terms as mainstream support lasts for about 5 years after the general release of an OS. Once this has expired, that version of Windows will no longer receive feature updates, but will still be provided with security updates that patch the weak holes in the code. Roughly 5 years after mainstream support ends, “extended” support expires, and with it, all updates cease and the OS is left to the wolves.

This makes it inadvisable to remain on the aging OS, since any vulnerability left in its programming will never be closed. Any method for breaking into a Vista system a hacker discovers will work in perpetuity, and if they use this to crack a machine within your network, they’ll be in a good position to wreak havoc from within.


The successor to Vista, Windows 7, was much better received and still enjoys a market share of around 40%. Its extended support is up to be chopped in January of 2020, but unless more of the market finally moves to Windows 10, it would likely be a mistake to turn off the lights on so many customers. That may be inevitable due to Microsoft’s rather aggressive push of the new OS, which once involved providing it for free, but now includes dirtier tactics, such as refusing to sell Windows 7 to OEMs like Dell and HP, as well as withholding support from Intel and AMD, in turn preventing them from supporting older Windows OS’s with their chips.

Very soon, it will be Windows 10 or the highway. If you can get past the somewhat creepy telemetric gathering and Microsoft’s insistence that you speak to its SIRI like AI, Cortana, then that may not be too bad. We’ve generally given the same advice since its release, but if you’ve clung to Vista for this long, it’s time to move on.

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