Just because Microsoft is launching a new version of Windows does not mean that everyone is coming to the party, given the radical changes in Windows 8 compared with the current and familiar Windows 7 – or even Vista and XP before it.
There will surely be plenty of new Windows 8 users come the launch later this year, but whether for business, software, hardware or other reasons, plenty of people are still using older versions of Windows and simply aren’t yet ready or willing to upgrade.
Microsoft has certainly tried getting its XP users to upgrade in the past, initially pegging mid 2011 as the end-of-life for Windows XP support updates and patches, but then upgrade that until 2014, and has since extended that further as we explain below.
Vista was supposed to be supported until 2017 and Windows 7 until 2020, but with so many Microsoft users still on older versions of its once flagship operating sytems, Microsoft cannot simply abandon them.
Back in 2010, Computerworld reported Microsoft had decided to extend downgrade rights to Windows XP until 2020, while ZDNet’s Ed Bott had confirmation from Microsoft in February this year of a big change to Microsoft’s XP, Vista and Windows 7 update policy.
“Microsoft still requires that customers have the most current Service Pack installed in order to continue to receive updates. Through this update, customers who remain on the most current supported service pack will be eligible to receive both Mainstream and Extended Support, for a total of 10 years.”
Microsoft’s Windows Product Lifecycle document is available to read here.
So, this really means that businesses will be able to continue getting whatever version of Windows from XP upwards they want until at least 2020, and that as long as your copy is legal and you’re on the latest service pack, whether as a consumer or business user, you’ll continue to get security upgrades and patches.
It means that new Windows 8 computers will be available at retail, but that they’ll likely come with a dual-boot scenario, allowing you to choose to turn your new computer into one running Windows 8, or one where you can use your “downgrade rights” to have run Windows 7 instead.
Perhaps an innovative OEM that can strike a deal with Microsoft can sell you a Windows 8 machine with Windows 7 running virtually, or the other way around, while also letting you boot into either environment natively should you so desire.
It has happened before with Windows 7 - page two explains and plenty more thoughts on Windows 8 continue, please read on!