Windows lifecycle fact sheet

Last updated: April 2014

Every Windows product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it's no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software. Here are the rights and limits of the Windows lifecycle.

End of support

End of support refers to the date when Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. This is the time to make sure you have the latest available update or service pack installed. Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information. For more information go to Microsoft Support Lifecycle .

Client operating systems Latest update or service pack End of mainstream support End of extended support
Client operating systems

Windows XP

Latest update or service pack
End of mainstream support

April 14, 2009

End of extended support
Client operating systems

Windows Vista

Latest update or service pack
End of mainstream support

April 10, 2012

End of extended support

April 11, 2017

Client operating systems

Windows 7 *

Latest update or service pack
End of mainstream support

January 13, 2015

End of extended support

January 14, 2020

Client operating systems

Windows 8

Latest update or service pack
End of mainstream support

January 9, 2018

End of extended support

January 10, 2023

* Support for Windows 7 RTM without service packs ended on April 9, 2013. Be sure to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 today to continue to receive support and updates.

End of support: questions and answers

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What is the difference between mainstream support and extended support?

  • Mainstream support—Microsoft will offer mainstream support for a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product's general availability, or for 2 years after the successor product is released, whichever is longer. For example, if you buy a new version of Windows and five years later another version is released, you will still have two years of support left for the previous version.

  • Extended support—Microsoft will offer extended support for either a minimum of 5 years from the date of a product's general availability, or for 2 years after the second successor product (two versions later) is released, whichever is longer.

For more details on the difference between mainstream support and extended support, refer to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ .

What should I do when the version of Windows I'm using reaches its end of support date?

You can either install the latest available update or service pack or you can upgrade to a newer version of Windows. For more information, see What does it mean if my version of Windows is no longer supported?

How does the end of support for Windows XP affect my business?

Learn why Microsoft ended support for Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003, what it means to you, and how you can get access to all available tools to begin your migration.

End of sales

End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMS are Dell and Toshiba—PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software. When a version of Windows reaches its end of sales date, it's a good time to think about upgrading.

This table gives end of sales dates for specific Windows operating systems.

Client operating systems and updates Date of general availability Retail software end of sales * End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled
Client operating systems and updates

Windows XP

Date of general availability

December 31, 2001

Retail software end of sales *

June 30, 2008

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

October 22, 2010

Client operating systems and updates

Windows Vista

Date of general availability

January 30, 2007

Retail software end of sales *

October 22, 2010

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

October 22, 2011

Client operating systems and updates

Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate

Date of general availability

October 22, 2009

Retail software end of sales *

October 31, 2013

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

October 31, 2014

Client operating systems and updates

Windows 7 Professional

Date of general availability

October 22, 2009

Retail software end of sales *

October 31, 2013

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

Not yet established **

Client operating systems and updates

Windows 8

Date of general availability

October 26, 2012

Retail software end of sales *

October 31, 2014

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

Not yet established

Client operating systems and updates

Windows 8.1

Date of general availability

October 18, 2013

Retail software end of sales *

Not yet established

End of sales for PCs with Windows preinstalled

Not yet established

* Note that when the retail software product reaches its end of sales date, it can still be purchased through OEMs (the company that made your PC) until it reaches the end of sales date for PCs with Windows preinstalled.

** Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

End of sales: questions and answers

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How long can OEMs sell devices with a prior version of Windows installed?

When Microsoft launches a new version of Windows, we will continue to allow OEMs to sell PCs preinstalled with the previous version for up to two years after the launch date of the new version unless otherwise announced. Certain OEM versions of Windows products include downgrade rights (as outlined within the software license terms). Downgrade rights make it possible to use a previous version of Windows instead of the licensed software preinstalled on a new PC. See Downgrade rights for additional details.

How long can retailers sell a prior version of Windows?

We will continue to allow retailers to sell the previous version of Windows for a year after the launch date of the new version.

How long will Volume Licensing be available for a prior version of Windows?

For Volume Licensing programs, licenses will continue to be available through downgrade rights after the end of general availability. General availability of licenses for the previous version of Windows will cease as soon as the new version is available. However, we will make media available for the current version as well as the previous two versions.

Service packs and updates

Service packs and updates are part of the process of keeping your Windows product up to date. Service packs combine the latest updates and fixes into one package or download. A service pack can include security and performance improvements as well as support for new types of hardware. To install the latest service pack for Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, or to install the latest update for Windows 8, visit the Service Pack Center.

Desktop operating systems Date of availability Support retired
Desktop operating systems

Windows XP SP1

Date of availability

August 30, 2002

Support retired

October 10, 2006

Desktop operating systems

Windows XP SP2

Date of availability

September 17, 2004

Support retired

July 13, 2010

Desktop operating systems

Windows XP SP3

Date of availability

April 21, 2008

Support retired

April 8, 2014

Desktop operating systems

Windows Vista SP1

Date of availability

February 4, 2008

Support retired

July 12, 2011

Desktop operating systems

Windows Vista SP2

Date of availability

May 26, 2009

Support retired
Desktop operating systems

Windows 7 SP1

Date of availability

February 22, 2011

Support retired
Desktop operating systems

Windows 8.1

Date of availability

October 18, 2013

Support retired

Service packs and updates: questions and answers

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What is the support policy for Windows service packs?

Support ends 24 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product's support lifecycle, whichever comes first. If you are using software without the latest service pack you won't be offered any new security or non-security updates, although preexisting updates will continue to be offered. Refer to the Service Pack Lifecycle Support Policy for further information.

If my version of Windows offers regular update notices, does that mean I have a service pack installed?

Not necessarily. Update notices only indicate your software has not reached its end of support date. To find out if you already have a service pack installed, read the information on our Windows Update page. To install the latest Windows service packs, see the Service Pack Center.

Where can I find information about service pack support for Windows Server products?

See the following table for service pack support information.

Server operating systems Preceding service packs Current service pack and date of availability Next update and estimated date of availability
Server operating systems

Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server

Preceding service packs

SP3 or earlier

Current service pack and date of availability

SP4
June 26, 2003

Update Rollup #1 for SP4
June 28, 2005

Next update and estimated date of availability

Support for Windows 2000 ended on July 13, 2010. Microsoft is no longer producing public monthly security updates or service packs.

Server operating systems

Windows Server 2003

Preceding service packs

SP1

Current service pack and date of availability

SP2
March 13, 2007

Next update and estimated date of availability

No further updates planned

Server operating systems

Windows Server 2008

Preceding service packs

SP1
(Windows Server 2008 was released including SP1)

Current service pack and date of availability

SP2
May 26, 2009

Next update and estimated date of availability

Not yet established

Server operating systems

Windows Server 2008 R2

Preceding service packs

Not applicable

Current service pack and date of availability

SP1
February 22, 2011

Next update and estimated date of availability

Not yet established

Windows downgrade rights

To use prior versions of Windows software on PCs installed with newer versions, it is possible for consumers to obtain a license for downgrade rights. These downgrade rights will vary depending on if the software was acquired via Volume Licensing, OEM, or FPP. To learn more about these rights, review the downgrade rights licensing brief.