MICROSOFT HAS PRESENTED a horror story for Halloween by announcing that it will cease offering most versions of Windows 7 to OEMs on 31 October.
With the exception of the Windows 7 Professional edition, which gets an unspecified reprieve, OEMs will only be able to install Windows 7 on new machines on a "while stocks last" basis after the last day of October.
The news shouldn't come as a complete surprise as it comes exactly one year after Microsoft ended retail sales for all versions of Windows 7, although at the time of writing many retailers still have stock for sale. It is Microsoft's usual practice to withdraw OEM supply a year to the day after stopping retail sales.
However, given the lukewarm reception of Windows 8, some had speculated that perhaps the company would give Windows 7 a stay of execution for six months, by which time Microsoft should launch Windows 9.
Microsoft is expected to launch Windows 9 to developers on 30 September, after it sent invitations to an event in the US. Some reports say that the Redmond firm will attempt to suppress Windows version fragmentation with free and heavily subsidised offers for the Windows 9 upgrade.
In addition, Microsoft launched Windows with Bing earlier this year offering OEMs a significant reduction on the costs of pre-installing Windows 8.1, leading to some vendors offering full sized entry-level laptops at less than the £200 mark, rivalling Google's Chromebook.
Microsoft's next diary date for Windows 7 will be 13 January 2015, when it will drop mainstream support. This essentially means that the product will be considered 'finished' and Microsoft will perform no further development on it beyond patches and bug fixes.
Don't panic though, Windows 7 has a few more Halloweens to go, with extended support for the product lasting to 2020. It's a good thing too, as Net Applications statistics still show that Windows 7 has more than 50 percent market share as of August 2014. µ
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