Without making much of an announcement, Microsoft has extended support for the consumer versions of Windows 7 and Windows Vista by five years. This will mean that they will have the same lifespan of enterprise editions.
Microsoft told Computer World that it wanted to change its consumer operating system support policies, which until now had only been for five years. Business software had been supported for at least ten years with the first half in mainstream support, the second in "extended" support.
If a company is on extended support, they will get fixes if they have signed support contracts with Microsoft.
Vista's consumer editions were to be retired from support in less than two months, on 10 April, 2012, now they will be kept alive until 11 April, 2017.
Windows 7's consumer editions were to lose support on 13 January, 2015, but now it will be with us until 14 January, 2020.
Other than making things nice and even, it is not clear what Microsoft will get out of supporting Vista that long. We would have thought it would have wanted to forget the troubled operating system as a terrible dream.
What is possible is that the longer service contract will look good to those buying Windows 8. Although it is hard to see how anyone will want to be using an operating system in 2023 that they used in 2012.