I've read a lot over the past couple days over how Microsoft is supposedly distancing itself from Windows 8 by ending sales of the OS on new PCs. But, taking this tact in reporting an end of consumer sales is confusing a very simple issue.
We've known for a while that Microsoft has planned to stop selling Windows 7 after a certain date. That date was October 31, 2014. Last Friday, this became the reality. You can no longer walk into a computer store and buy a new PC with any version of Windows 7 preinstalled – unless, of course, you hurry. It will take a while for old stock to empty shelves, so you'll still be able to get a PC with Windows 7 installed for a time.
But, this also relates to Windows 8, and this is where some folks are getting confused by the messaging.
Windows 8 is not the most current version of Microsoft's publicly available and supported operating system. No, Windows 8.1 with Update 1 is clearly the most stable and most current version, and the version Microsoft is promoting, so it makes complete sense that Microsoft would stop offering the plain, old, first release version of Windows 8. When you buy a new PC now, it will come preinstalled with Windows 8.1 with Update 1.
Windows 10 is expected to release sometime during the latter half of 2015 and early reports suggest that both consumers and businesses are waiting with bated breath. But, until then, if you want a brand new PC, expect it to come with Windows 8.1 with Update 1 installed. Update 1 was released to bring back some Windows 7-like features to Windows 8 and Windows 10 is expected to bring back even more, along with additional modern features. Paul makes a good case that Windows 10 could be Microsoft's most audacious release in the Microsoft's history of client operating systems. We'll see.
Despite not showing up on new PCs, and being available for off-the-shelf purchases, Windows 7 (with service pack 1) reaches end of mainstream support on January 13, 2015 and extended support reaches through to January 14, 2020. Windows 8 mainstream support ends on January 9, 2018 and extended support on January 10, 2023.