If you have been getting worried about your Windows OS running out of support, you might be confused by the terms.
- Windows Vista SP2 ran out of ‘Mainstream Support’ on April 10th 2012 but has ‘Extended Support’ until April 11, 2017.
- Windows 7 SP1 ran out of Mainstream Support on January 13 2015 but has Extended Support through January 14th 2020.
The basic difference between Mainstream Support and Extended Support is payment for phone support. Extended Support does not allow companies to get free (well, no additional charge) telephone support from Microsoft. Companies have to pay for phone support when a product is in Extended Support time frame.
Under both Mainstream and Extended support Windows Update still functions as you would expect with security patches and various other fixes. Clearly Microsoft will not be putting much effort into the ‘fixes’ for their old products in Extended Support, but they do release a few when the issues are big enough.
Microsoft explains the difference in support using the following table:
|Type of support||Mainstream Support||Extended Support||Self-help Online Support|
|Request to change product design and features||Available||Not Available||Note4|
|Complimentary support1 included with license, licensing program2 or other no-charge support programs||Available||Not Available3||Note4|
|Paid-support (including pay-per-incident Premier and Essential Support)||Available||Available||Note4|
|Product-specific information and answers to technical questions via Microsoft Knowledge Base or Microsoft Help and Support||Available||Available||Note4|
1 Refers to phone support and online support options.
2 For example, support incidents acquired through the Software Assurance program for server products.
3 Limited complimentary support may be available (varies by product).
4 Access to freely available online content, such as Knowledge Base articles, online product information, and online support webcasts
If you have more questions about Microsoft Support, I found the THIS FAQ Page to be quite useful.