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NOTE: This FAQ was updated on November 10, 2014, consolidating multiple FAQs and simplifying some of the language used for clarity.
1. What is the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for Windows?
Microsoft Windows follows the Business, Developer, and Desktop Operating System Software Products policy. As such, Microsoft will offer a minimum of 10 years of support for Business, Developer, and Desktop Operating System (consumer or business) Software Products. Mainstream Support for Business, Developer, and Desktop Operating Systems will be provided for 5 years or for 2 years after the successor product (N+1) is released, whichever is longer. Microsoft will also provide Extended Support for the 5 years following Mainstream support or for 2 years after the second successor product (N+2) is released, whichever is longer. Finally, most Business, Developer, and Desktop Operating System Software products will receive at least 10 years of online self-help support.
2. Is there a different Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for consumers and businesses for the Windows operating system?
All Desktop Operating System products, whether used for personal or business purposes, receive a minimum of 10 years of support (minimum of 5 years Mainstream Support and minimum of 5 years Extended Support) at the supported service pack level. Microsoft does not differentiate Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy between consumer and business versions of Desktop Operating System products.
3. If I obtained Windows when I purchased a new personal computer, who provides support for my Windows desktop operating system?
If you obtained a retail (packaged product) copy of a Windows desktop operating system you are eligible for support from Microsoft, subject to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy and to the support terms and conditions that were in place at the time of purchase. If you acquired your Windows desktop operating system through the Microsoft Volume Licensing program or from an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Microsoft offers access to a wealth of online self-help support content in addition to paid technical assistance offerings. If you acquired your Windows desktop operating system through an OEM, you may also contact your OEM for more information about the support offerings for Windows desktop operating systems from that OEM.
4. What other options do I have for getting support?
Microsoft offers no-charge self-help tools and content on the Microsoft Help and Support Web site. These resources include the Microsoft Knowledge Base, how-to articles, troubleshooting information, frequently asked questions, TechNet Support Webcasts, community newsgroups, and more.
You can also gain access to comprehensive Help files and troubleshooting information by clicking Start in Microsoft Windows 7, or by going to Search in Windows 8.1 and typing in “help.”
5. After the Microsoft assisted and paid support offerings have ended, what are my options if I want to continue to receive support?
Microsoft encourages all customers to remain current to ensure that they stay supported and can take advantage of innovations found in the latest products. Staying current also minimizes security risks, compliance risks, and frequently lowers the total cost of ownership.
Once a product transitions out of support, no further support will be provided for the product. This means that customers will not have access to:
- Security updates or non-security hotfixes
- Free or paid assisted support options
- The option to engage Microsoft product development resources
- Updates to online content (KB articles, etc.)
Online content may be available, if the product is still within the Online Self-Help Support phase.
Microsoft has created a Web site that lists the support options that are available for Microsoft products that no longer receive assisted support from Microsoft. For more information, visit the Retired Product Support Options Web site.
6. When a Windows desktop operating system reaches the end of its lifecycle or is no longer supported, does that mean new programs will not run on that operating system?
Even if an operating system is no longer available for purchase or support through Microsoft, that operating system may still work with programs and with hardware that become available after sale or support of the operating system is discontinued. However, as an operating system ages, the chance that new programs will not be performant on the operating system increases. The chance that an older, non-supported operating system will not be performant on new hardware also increases. This frequently occurs because the manufacturers of new hardware and of new software make product-design decisions that take advantage of the increased functionality and features in newer operating systems. These manufacturers may decide that discontinuing support of their products on older operating systems is appropriate.
7. What is the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for Windows 8.1?
Windows 8.1 falls under the same lifecycle policy as Windows 8, and will reach end of Mainstream Support on January 9, 2018, and end of Extended Support on January 10, 2023. With the General Availability of Windows 8.1, customers on Windows 8 have 2 years, until January 12, 2016, to move to Windows 8.1 in order to remain supported.
8. Why are you requiring Windows 8 customers move to Windows 8.1 two years after the General Availability?
Historically, we’ve had a similar support approach related to Windows service packs; when a Windows service pack is released, Microsoft provides customers 24 months of support for the prior service pack or original RTM version. Unlike service packs that are typically just a collection of fixes, Windows 8.1 has new features and enhancements. We designed Windows 8.1 to give customers an ability to deploy this update in a manner that is similar to how customers deploy service packs, therefore we are applying the existing service pack support policy to Windows 8.1.
Windows 8.1 does not change any hardware requirements compared with Windows 8 or Windows 7 and existing Windows Store apps will work with Windows 8.1. The update has little to no impact on existing desktop apps and there is no direct software cost because business customers with Software Assurance licensing will receive Windows 8.1 as a free update. For organizations running legacy applications that need to be upgraded, there are tools to manage deployment in order to help mitigate cost and impact.
9. What is Windows 8.1 Update? How does it impact the Windows 8 Support Lifecycle?
Windows 8.1 Update is a cumulative update for Windows 8.1. In addition to previous Windows 8.1 updates, it includes enhancements such as improved IE 11 compatibility for business applications, usability improvements, extended mobile device management and improved hardware support.
For more information on Windows 8.1 Update, please visit the "What’s new in Windows 8.1 Update and Windows RT 8.1 Update" article. For information on deploying, please visit the "Windows Springboard Series blog."
10. How does the End of Support for Windows XP impact Windows Embedded products?
Windows Embedded products have their own distinct support lifecycles, based on when the product was released and made generally available. It is important for businesses to understand the support implications for these products in order to ensure that systems remain up-to-date and secure. The following Windows Embedded products are based on Windows XP:
- Windows XP Professional for Embedded Systems. This product is identical to Windows XP, and Extended Support will end on April 8, 2014.
- Windows XP Embedded Service Pack 3 (SP3). This is the original toolkit and componentized version of Windows XP. It was originally released in 2002, and Extended Support will end on Jan. 12, 2016.
- Windows Embedded for Point of Service SP3. This product is for use in Point of Sale devices. It’s built from Windows XP Embedded. It was originally released in 2005, and Extended Support will end on April 12, 2016.
- Windows Embedded Standard 2009. This product is an updated release of the toolkit and componentized version of Windows XP. It was originally released in 2008; and Extended Support will end on January 8, 2019.
- Windows Embedded POSReady 2009. This product for Point of Sale devices reflects the updates available in Windows Embedded Standard 2009. It was originally released on 2009, and extended support will end on April 9, 2019.
11. Why does support for Windows XP Professional for Embedded Systems end with Windows XP?
Windows XP Professional for Embedded Systems is a specially licensed version of Windows XP Professional for industry devices, delivering the full features and functionality of Windows XP. Given this relationship, both operating systems followed the same release schedule and share the same timeline for end of support.
12. Why will Windows XP Embedded be supported for two years longer than Windows XP Professional for Embedded Systems?
Windows XP Embedded is a modular form of Windows XP, with additional functionality to support the needs of industry devices. It was released separately from Windows XP and provides a separate support lifecycle to address the unique needs of industry devices. Devices running Windows XP Embedded will be supported through 2016.
13. What is the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for Windows Embedded 8.1 products?
Windows Embedded 8.1 falls under the same lifecycle policy as Windows Embedded 8 with support ending 7/11/2023. Customers have 24 months to move to Windows Embedded 8.1 in order to remain supported. This applies to Windows Embedded 8 Industry Enterprise and Industry Pro.
14. Are there any differences in what is provided in the Extended Support phase for Windows Embedded products than regular Windows products? The type of support provided in the Extended Support phase is consistent for all Business, Developer, and Desktop Operating System Software Products. Critical security updates are made available for products until the published Extended Support end date. This allows businesses to ensure that they are up to date in protection against security attacks. For Embedded products, these updates will continue to be made available through the usual channels of MyOEM, Windows Embedded Developer Update (WEDU) and Microsoft OEM Online (MOO), as well as through Microsoft Update for the Point of Sale systems.
15. What does this mean for other parts of the system?
While most of the Windows Embedded Operating System will continue to receive critical security updates, it is important to ensure that other parts of the system that are not part of the operating system are also kept up to date, and that protections are in place. This includes items such as software included on the device, antivirus solutions and management solutions on the device, as well as throughout the IT infrastructure. Check with the providers of all parts of the infrastructure to ensure that they will continue to offer support for XP-based platforms.
Microsoft will continue to provide anti-malware definition updates to those operating systems licensed to run our anti-malware products through their end-of-life dates.
16. What is the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for Windows RT?
Microsoft will make software updates, including security updates, available for Windows RT. Additional information regarding the Windows RT support lifecycle policy will be communicated as available.
17. Will Microsoft provide customer-specific software updates?
Microsoft will not accept customer requests for specific product design and feature changes or non-security updates that are applicable only to an individual customer need.
18. What is the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for Office Home and Student 2013 RT, the version of Office available on Windows RT?
Office Home and Student 2013 RT has the same support lifecycle policy as Windows RT.
19. How long will Microsoft support the device hardware that runs Windows RT?
Microsoft offers support for its consumer hardware product for a minimum of 4 years from the first date of general availability. This period may vary by local jurisdiction and laws. More details can be found in the Consumer Hardware Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ.