The week before the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8, Reuters reported that many businesses view the launch as a non-event. Corporations are generally slow to adopt new systems, taking 12-18 months to first test a new platform before implementing it. Many businesses do not see any additional business functionality with Windows 8, and write it off as a consumer product.
Research firm Gartner predicts Windows 8 will have minimal adoption over its lifespan. Gartner estimates that 90 percent of large organizations will not deploy Windows 8 broadly, and at its peak, the adoption rate will be around 20 percent. These statistics begs a practical question for anybody holding off on the upgrade, "How long can I run Windows 7?"
While it may not be essential to run the latest operating system, it is vital that you keep your current platform up-to-date. These updates are routine, and provided directly by the software company. Keeping your software updated is one of the best defenses against known security threats; this means if the software company stops supporting updates, then your system and data are at a major security risk.
You can technically run your Windows operating system as long as it powers on, but you should only run Windows for as long as Microsoft is supporting updates. When Microsoft stops supporting your software, this is essentially like a software expiration date. Unlike milk, the software expiration takes longer than a week to go bad; Microsoft also has two software expiration dates, one for mainstream support and another for extended support.
There's Still Time!
The day Microsoft will stop providing mainstream support for Windows 7 is January 12, 2015. Until that day, you will continue to receive the same security and non-security updates you are receiving now. These updates may even include adding new features and changing designs. Microsoft will even honor your warranty until mainstream support ends.
After mainstream support expires, Microsoft will only cover the basic security updates. Non-security-related hotfixes will still be available, but only as a paid subscription service, and the subscription must be enacted before April 15, 2015. January 14, 2020 is when Microsoft will stop providing extended support for Windows 7; this is essentially when "the milk will go bad."
A decade old and still going strong, Windows XP is currently in extended support mode. It is still a popular operating system, running on 41 percent of the world's 1.5 billion PCs. If you are among the 41 percent using XP, then your holdout will end on April 8, 2014 when Microsoft cuts off extended support. Microsoft Vista is also currently running on extended support and set to expire on April 11, 2017.
There appears to be pattern with the public embracing a Microsoft operating system; it seems every other one is popular, and people like to skip out purchasing the unpopular system. With the popularity of Windows 7, and the hesitancy for large business organizations to jump on board the launch hype, Windows 8 may be the unpopular other one to sit out on. At the same time, the dramatic makeover may be very appealing for your specific needs. What do you think? Are you planning on holding on to Windows 7 for as long as you can? Or do you think Windows 8 is worth the upgrade? Tell us in the comments!