After recently discontinuing the availability of Windows 7 via retail software sales and with new PCs, Microsoft has backtracked on one of those two milestones. It will continue to let hardware makers sell new PCs with Windows 7 for the foreseeable future, and said that the previous status update was incorrect.
Microsoft had quietly updated its Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet to indicate that Windows 7 was no longer available in retail-software form or with new PCs as of October 30, 2013. But part of that change was apparently in error, and the end of sales for Windows 7 on new PCs is now listed as "to be determined."
"We have yet to determine the 'end of sales' date for PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled," a Microsoft statement notes. "The October 30 date that posted to the Windows Lifecycle page globally last week was done so in error. We have since updated the website to note the correct information, [and] we apologize for any confusion this may have caused our customers. We'll have more details to share about the Windows 7 lifecycle once they become available."
Windows 7, alas, is no longer available via retail disc, however. That date was correct. "We are confirming that the retail-software 'end of sales' date for Windows 7 did happen on October 30, 2013," the statement adds.
Windows 7's lifecycle is of paramount importance because it is expected to replace Windows XP as the go-to Windows version for many years in businesses and with tech enthusiasts. Windows 7's successor, Windows 8, has met with fierce resistance and slow sales because it combines the classic desktop experience with a new mobile environment that is awkward to use on traditional PCs. Microsoft has worked to alleviate these issues with improvements in Windows 8.1, and further changes are coming in an update code-named "Threshold" that might be branded as Windows 8.2.
Regardless of the availability of the software, Windows 7 will be supported by Microsoft for some time to come. The end of Windows 7 mainstream support comes on January 13, 2015, and the end of extended support doesn't occur until January 14, 2020. That's a lifecycle of over 10 years, given the system's October 2009 release date.