Say farewell to Windows 7

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Windows 7 is out the door.

As of late last week, Microsoft stopped selling the consumer versions of Windows 7 Home Basic, Premium and Ultimate to computer manufacturers. Once the supply runs out, you won't be able to get a new computer with that software installed.

Only Windows 7 Professional was spared, so businesses that need more computers with the software don't need to worry — at least, until next year.

The changes affect companies that build PCs. Microsoft already stopped selling Windows 7 software packages to the regular public in 2013, but now original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can't license it, either, meaning they can't build more computers with Windows 7 as the default operating system.

It's unclear how many PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed are still in stock; it might take some time to notice its dismissal.

Windows 8 was largely a failure for the company; it was given the cold shoulder by businesses and derided by users. One of the big complaints was the absence of the Start Menu.

Windows 10, Microsoft's next big upgrade for its Windows operating system (it skipped Windows 9), is slated for launch in late 2015. This is a sign the company is gearing up for the change: A preview version of the software was downloaded by 1 million users in the first two weeks following the platform's announcement.

Mainstream support from Microsoft for Windows 7 will end in January 2015.

Microsoft cut off retail sales of Windows 8 on Friday, so consumers can't buy the software package after supplies right out. In other words, you won't be able to walk into a store and buy a Windows 8 box set much longer. OEMs still have that option, though.

Windows 8's retail lifespan just exceeded two years; it was first available for purchase on Oct. 26, 2012. That's much shorter than a traditional software cycle for a Windows operating system.



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