Microsoft Ends Windows 7, 8 Retail Sales, Looks Ahead to 10
PC users will find it increasingly difficult to buy Windows 7 and 8, now that Microsoft has officially ended retail sales for those versions of its operating system. That leaves some buyers with just one option -- Windows 8.1 -- until Microsoft releases its next update, Windows 10 (there is no 9), sometime in mid-2015.
Sales of PCs with preinstalled versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate ended on Friday, according to Microsoft's Windows lifecycle fact sheet. So, too, did retail software sales of Windows 8. However, Windows 7 Professional remains available for purchase through Microsoft's Downgrade Rights.
Microsoft has not yet set an end date for retail sales of PCs with preinstalled versions of Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8. This means that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can continue offering that software on their products until Microsoft schedules an end date for those versions.
Windows 10 Set for Test-Driving
The phasing-out of Windows 7 and 8 has been in the works for some time now, as Microsoft generally gives one year's notice before ending sales of a software version.
Microsoft has not yet scheduled a release date for Windows 10, although it's expected to come out some time after the company's next Build Developer Conference, which is set for April 29 through May 1 of next year. Computer-savvy users will be able to take 10 for a test drive earlier, though, through Microsoft's new Windows Insider Program.
That program will let early adopters offer feedback about pre-release versions of 10 directly to Microsoft's engineers. It's a new approach for Microsoft, which has not sought pre-release input from users on past generations of its Windows software. Considering the relative unpopularity of Windows 8 and 8.1, however, the strategy probably makes sense.
7 Remains Dominant OS
According to analytics firm Net Applications' most recent figures on desktop operating system market shares, Windows 7 remains the dominant OS, with 53.05 percent of the market. Adoption of Windows 8 and 8.1 has grown slowly, with their market shares currently standing at 5.88 percent and 10.92 percent, respectively.
Users who don't care for 8 and 8.1 -- each of which features a touch-screen-centric design and lacks Windows 7's Start menu -- are now looking ahead to the release of 10, which is expected to have a look and feel that addresses many of their concerns. Microsoft has jokingly noted that it's skipping a number between versions because "7 ate 9."
Windows 10 will bring back an extended Start menu with one-click access to commonly used functions. It is also expected to offer users more customization options, such as multiple desktop designs, snap-enhanced viewing of multiple apps and resizable, movable windows for managing apps.
Microsoft has said the revamped 10 will focus on an improved experience for enterprise users. Windows 10 is expected to offer business-grade security, identity and information protection, as well as simplified management and deployment for enterprise use.