What You Need to Know and Do for the End of Windows Vista Support

Do you own or use a computer that runs Windows Vista? While it’s starting to become quite an aged operating system, it can still perform well against the demands of daily life. As such, there are people who still rely on the Vista OS for work and/or play.

Unfortunately, on April 11th, 2017 Microsoft will stop supporting Windows Vista altogether. This comes five years after they stopped offering what they call “mainstream support” for Vista, which included incident support with no charge to the user. Even after its mainstream support ended, however, it was still covered under “extended support” where Microsoft still tries to support Vista, albeit sometimes with a charge attached.

In about a month’s time, however, this extended support will come to an end, meaning Microsoft will stop supporting Vista altogether. Unlike when beloved Windows XP lost its support, Vista’s own deadline is rapidly approaching without much buzz. Of course, this may mean people that use Vista might be caught unaware by this change. What WILL happen to Vista on April 11th, 2017?

What Will Stop?

At first glance, it may seem as if Microsoft will simply stop customer support for Vista. However, the truth is a little larger than that. What this means is that Microsoft will cease to publish updates for Windows Vista. These are the same updates you receive through Windows Update which are usually very important to fix holes and bugs in the system. That means if any security flaws or problems are found within Vista after April 11th, there’s a solid chance Microsoft won’t fix it. Unfortunately, this makes Vista a potential sitting duck for malicious attacks.

Will This Cause My Vista Machine to Stop Working?

No! The April 11th deadline isn’t a direct killswitch for the operating system itself. You won’t wake up that day and find all your machines that ran Vista have died overnight. What it does mean in terms of your computer’s well-being is that it will cease to receive security updates and fixes. Some people would argue that this lack of support is, in essence, the death of the operating system as a whole. As far as being able to still use the Vista machine, however, it’ll still run normally.

Will an Antivirus Cover Me?


Perhaps, but even if it did, it’s not a great idea to count on it! Some antivirus companies might stop supporting Vista after the deadline passes, meaning you’ll be running less efficient antivirus on the whole. Even if your current antivirus vows to maintain support for your operating system, there’s still the case that it’ll be missing security patches from Microsoft itself to keep the operating system secure. If you’re concerned about computer security, it’s best not to stick with Vista, no matter how good your antivirus is.

What Do I Do Now?

Unfortunately, given that this is Microsoft themselves refusing to give out updates for their operating system, there’s no way to fix or repair this issue. You need to ask yourself whether continuing to use Windows Vista is worth the lack of updates and security. If it’s not, then you’ll want to change operating systems to keep yourself secure.

Upgrading Windows


The most obvious method of staying up to date is to upgrade to a newer version of Windows. The next operating system up from Vista, Windows 7, is currently in extended support which runs out in 2020. This means you’ll get another three years minimum when upgrading Vista to a newer Windows operating system. At time of writing, the top choice for lifespan would be Windows 10, which won’t see its end of support until October 14th 2025!

You can upgrade your OS by purchasing a new copy of Windows, either from Microsoft themselves or from a trusted reseller. On the other hand, if your computer is getting a bit ancient, you can have a fresh new start by simply purchasing a new machine with the latest Windows OS pre-installed on it.

Changing Operating Systems


But perhaps the Windows path is not for you. Perhaps you don’t like the new operating systems Windows has to offer you, or you don’t want to shell out a lot of money for a new copy, or you don’t want to buy into another operating system that will eventually “go stale.” In this case, this might be the opportune moment to hop to a different operating system. This is a much more advanced option than simply upgrading your copy of Windows, but for those who want a fresh start with a new system, the effort is worth it.

A good choice in this situation is Linux. Not all of your software will be supported if you make the jump to Linux, but it’s free of charge and performs very well. We wrote about the best Linux distributions for Windows users, as well as some great-looking distros to look out for in the coming year. You can even “taste test” various Linux systems using nothing but a memory stick, so you can get a feel for Linux before jumping into it.

Hasta La Vista

With Vista’s deadline fast approaching, its users may find their computers will become much less secure after April 11th. While there’s no way to “fix” this, updating or changing operating systems can help you stay safe.

Do you have any computers that will need upgrading after April 11th? Or are you all up-to-date? Let us know below in the comments.

Simon Batt
Simon Batt

Simon Batt is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for cybersecurity.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox