Window Vista As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista has officially reached its end of life. As per Microsoft’s Lifecycle Policy, which sets dates terminating Microsoft’s commitment to specific product lines, Vista’s current status means that tech giant will be abandoning support and updates for the operating system and any versions of software specific to that operating system (like Internet Explorer 9/IE9). Continue reading to learn what this means for those of you still using Windows Vista and what your best options will be.

What exactly does this mean for me?

Every Microsoft product has two important dates, an initial “end of mainstream support” date, as well as an “end of extended support” date. The first date, which is usually five years from a product’s release, typically just means that the product will no longer be enhanced – no new features, no new additions or new functions. The second date, ten years from a product’s release, means that all forms of support and security patching will be terminated. In the company’s own words, “ … customers will no longer receive new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft.” Having been released in 2007, Windows Vista has officially reached its end of extended support. Vista users should be aware that this also means that Microsoft is no longer supporting the IE9 for Vista users, as well as the Security Essentials antivirus software for Vista. Since Vista does not support newer editions of these programs, continued use of this software (as well as the Windows Vista operating system in general) puts your device and your data’s security at risk.

Why is this important?

We’ve spoken before about previous versions of Windows and Windows software being retired, and this is no different. Without security patches or support — or program updates in general — any remaining users will be left to their own devices should their operating system malfunction, or worse yet, be hacked due to any lingering security vulnerabilities. In most cases, program updates happen automatically through software patching published by the product’s developer, but once a product reaches the end of its life, this means that you’ll have to upgrade or purchase the next edition of the product you’re using to keep your device and data protected. In this case, Vista users should upgrade to either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 by purchasing a new computer or buying a new operating system if their current computer can run it, which isn’t likely if you’re using an older machine.

The good news is that it seems many people aren’t using Vista anymore (if they ever were), so experts suspect that there won’t be many caught off guard by this news. Still, for any stragglers, this is an important last call. Keep in mind, if you’re a Windows 7 user, or if you’re a Vista user wanting to upgrade to Windows 7, Microsoft ends support for it in 2020, so it might be best to invest a more recent operating system like Windows 8.1 or Windows 10.

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