Halloween 2016 could be especially frightful for Windows 7 fans, as it’s the last day PC makers will be allowed to pre-install the aging operating system.
As ZDNet’s Ed Bott points out, Microsoft recently updated its Windows lifecycle page to include an end date for Windows 7 PC sales. That date is October 31, 2016, which is also the same day that Windows 8.1 PC sales will cease. From then onward, all PCs must come with Windows 10 pre-installed.
The end of sales date for Windows 7 is actually much later than usual for older Windows versions. Usually, the cut-off comes two years after version’s successor arrives, which in the case of Windows 7 would have been October 2014.
But last year, Microsoft extended those sales indefinitely for the Pro version, likely due to the negative response to Windows 8. (Some PC makers even used Windows 7 as a selling point, with special promotions on some computers.)
The cut-off date for PC sales doesn’t mark the end for Windows 7, however. Businesses will still be able to use downgrade rights to get back to Windows 7. And while mainstream support (i.e. feature updates) for Windows 7 ended last January, extended support will continue until January 2020. That means you’ll still get roughly four years of security patches if you snag a Windows 7 PC before sales cease.
Why this matters: While PC makers are now putting most of their marketing efforts behind Windows 10, today vendors such as Dell and HP continue to sell machines with Windows 7 on board, even direct to consumers. For users who are more comfortable with the six-year-old operating system, don’t like the mandatory updates of Windows 10, or want access to Windows Media Center, the clock is now ticking on a chance to buy new Windows 7 hardware.