Every few years, whether we like it or not, Microsoft releases new versions of their applications, Office suites and operating systems. Most vendors, including Microsoft, support schedules for their products. For each product released, there is a product life-cycle stipulating how support, enhancements and service packs will be provided.

Lifecycle of Microsoft Operating Systems

At some point, products will no longer be supported.  You do not want to be in this position with a system you rely upon.

This post talks about when you should upgrade your Microsoft products.

When to Upgrade

Upgrades should be considered 3-6 months after a product has been released to the public.  Lagging behind the initial release will allow the vendors to address issues uncovered by the early adopters, which were not identified during the beta release of the product.  Upgrading this way will lessen issues you may encounter with a new product but provide you the most current system, set of features, and support.

We only post reviews about the latest versions of supported Microsoft operating systems still in use today by many corporate clients. Many topics on the web, including Microsoft and their products, can be confusing and frustrating to understand. We simplify this for you here.

Microsoft Milestone Support Definitions

Below are Microsoft product milestone support definitions.

Lifecycle Start Date:The date on which the product is widely available to the public.   Essentially the release date.
Mainstream Support:Mainstream support provides for warranty support, some no-charge support, updated feature enhancements and security updates, and service pack fixes.
Extended Support:Paid for support only is provided. Security update releases continue like before, at no cost. No feature enhancements are developed or released.
Service Pack Support:Microsoft will support the latest service pack for a period of 24 months after its release. A service pack includes a rollup of prior released updates and fixes.

Recent Microsoft Product Life Cycles

Below is a chart showing some recent Microsoft product release schedule. It gives you a flavor for a typical Microsoft product life cycle. The information was derived from http://support.microsoft.com/lifeselect.

Products ReleasedLifecycle Start DateMainstream Support End DateExtended Support End DateService Pack Support End Date
Windows XP Professional12/31/20014/14/20094/8/20148/30/2005
Windows Vista Business1/25/20074/10/20124/11/20174/13/2010
Windows 7 Professional10/22/20091/13/20151/14/20204/9/2013
Windows 8 Pro10/30/20121/9/20181/10/2023

Our Recommendations

So what does all this mean? In a nutshell, you should be considering an upgrade beyond XP and Vista at this point. Windows 7 is a stable operating system but is hard to buy now that Windows 8 has been released. Windows 8 was released but with feature complaints which Microsoft will be addressing in October with a Windows 8.1 update.

Reasons not to upgrade to a more current version of the operating system may include:

  1. The application or hardware running on the computer presently does not support the newer operating system. Vendors of applications sometimes have difficulty coming out with compatible versions in a timely fashion. Always check with the vendors before upgrading.
  2. The general opinion of the latest operating system is negative. Remember Windows ME and more recently, Windows Vista? Not great options for upgrading.

Also note that 64 Bit Windows Operating Systems should be considered now that vendors have developed for 64 bit operating systems. This was not the case early in the Windows 7 release. The 32 bit Windows 7 operating system version was used more widely for 3rd party vendor support. This is rarely the case anymore as most vendors have created 64 bit drivers and support files for their respective products.

The key benefit to 64 bit operating systems over the 32 bit operating systems is RAM (random access memory). The 32 bit operating systems have a RAM limit of around 4 GB. This is not much for today’s RAM-hungry applications. Even though you may have a PC with 8 GB of RAM, if it’s on a 32 bit Windows operating system then you are only using 4 GB.

Check with your specific vendors for 64-bit compatibility and support and use the most current drivers available for your operating system version. This includes hardware and software.

For more information on this or our technology management services, please comment below or contact us. Initial consultations are always free of charge.

Share This