Windows Vista Support Ends April 2017 - What are Your Options?

Technical Level : Intermediate

After 10 years, Microsoft is ending support for the Windows Vista operating system in April 2017. Windows Vista came to market in January of 2007 with a focus on security, making the PC easier to use and manage and providing a great user experience. In this article, we discuss some of the options users have going forward and what you should do before and after April 2017; if you decide to continue using Windows Vista. The decision to stick with Windows Vista can happen for a variety of reasons: application and hardware compatibility, nostalgia, inability to run later releases of Windows on existing hardware or it just works.

Even though Windows Vista support ends in April of 2017, the operating system will continue to function, but will cease to receive important security updates.

Users have the option of running Windows Vista after April 2017 or they can upgrade to a modern version of Windows such as Windows 7 or migrate to Windows 10. You will have to perform a custom install if you are migrating to Windows 8.1 or later versions. This means, files must be backed up and applications will need to be reinstalled along with new hardware drivers.

In some cases, your PC, depending on the age might not be capable of running Windows 10 or even Windows 8.1.

If you want to risk using Vista after April 2017 until you can either purchase a modern version of Windows or a new PC preinstalled with Windows 10, then you will need to do everything to protect yourself which includes:

  • Switching to a different web browser such as Mozilla Firefox 52 which will continue to support Vista; Google Chrome no longer supports Vista. I would also recommend you install a good third party Antivirus utility such as Malwarebytes and a decent Firewall such as Zone Alarm.
  • Also, switch to using a Standard User Account for daily usage and make sure User Account Control is set to high.
  • Limit your Internet usage on the device until you can migrate to new release of Windows or PC.
  • Limit connecting writable external storage devices such as hard disks and thumb drives, as this can be a potent vector for infection.
  • You can perform some advanced tasks such as disabling script host in Windows Vista.
  • Perform regular backups of your files just to be safe.
  • If you can avoid activities such as on-line banking and sensitive communications, do so.
  • Uninstall any applications or outdated utilities you are no longer using example: Apple QuickTime or Adobe Reader (switch to Foxxit Reader).
  • If you have extensions such as Adobe Flash Player installed, make sure it is disabled or removed.

Purchase Windows 7:

Because Windows 7 is in limited stock after Microsoft ended sales in October 2013, this has created demand due to its scarcity. This means retail boxed copies demand a premium, while OEM System Builder copies remain relatively affordable.

Full version (Retail):

- Includes transfer rights to another computer.

- Doesn't require a previous qualifying version of Windows.

- Expensive

Upgrade version (Retail):

- Includes transfer rights to another computer.

- require a previous qualifying version of Windows.

- Expensive, but cheaper than full version

OEM System Builder version:

OEM versions of Windows 7 are identical to Full License Retail versions except for the following:

- OEM versions do not offer any free Microsoft direct support from Microsoft support personnel

- OEM licenses are tied to the very first computer you install and activate it on

- OEM versions allow all hardware upgrades except for an upgrade to a different model motherboard

- OEM versions cannot be used to directly upgrade from an older Windows operating system

There is nothing particular wrong with using it too, especially since all future releases of Windows will be full versions anyway.

You can find OEM System Builder software from dozens of online merchants. The current price for OEM Windows 7 Professional at Newegg, for example, is $140. When I checked a few minutes ago, Amazon was offering OEM Windows 7 Professional packages from multiple sellersat prices ranging from $101 to $150. When I checked just now, a package specifically intended for refurbished PCs cost only $50 for a 64-bit copy.

There are no technical limitations to prevent you from using OEM software on your own PC, although this software will work only for a clean installation and not for an upgrade. In the past, Microsoft has been remarkably inconsistent in its advice to customers about whether this practice is allowed. (See "Is it OK to use OEM Windows on your own PC? Don't ask Microsoft.")

See the section of the article for Windows 7 how to perform a custom install:

How to: Perform a custom installation of Windows

Migrate to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10

My personal view, if I had to choose between Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, I would go with Windows 10 if your hardware can support it. Windows 10 features a more familiar experience for Windows Vista users, such as the Desktop, Taskbar, Start menu  and floating application windows. Before you can consider either operating system, you need to ensure your operating system can actually run either operating system.

To install Windows 8 or Windows 10 on your PC, the processor (CPU) must support the following features: Physical Address Extension (PAE), NX, and SSE2. Most CPUs have support for these features, so if you receive this error, it is likely because the NX feature is not enabled on your system. You can use a free utility such as CPU-Z to determine if your processor supports this extensions:

32 or 64 bit

64 bit Windows comes in handy when you need to address at least 4 GBs or more RAM. 32 bit Windows can utilize up to 3.2 GBs of RAM. Because the memory address space is much larger for 64 bit Windows, that means, you need twice as much memory than 32 bit Windows to accomplish some of the same task, but you are able to do so much more, you can have more applications open, do things like run an Antivirus scan in the background without it affecting your system performance. Windows 7 or 10 64 bit is more secure too, malicious code cannot easily infiltrate it, drivers are more reliable since they must be signed before they can work with 64 bit Windows 7 or 10.

As for compatibility, you will need 64 bit device drivers for any hardware devices you might have. Also, there is no 16 bit subsystem in 64 bit versions of Windows 7 or 10, which means, your applications must be 32 bit only, no 16 bit installer or uninstallers. Also, if you decide to move to 64 bit Windows in the future, there is no upgrade path from 32 bit Windows, clean install only.

I personally recommend Windows 10 or Windows 8.1 32 bit for hardware 5 years or older. If your computer originally came with Vista, the 32 bit version is highly recommended and actually might add a performance boost. Studies have shown, 32 bit versions of Windows experience a 9% performance increase on 64 bit capable hardware.

Performing the Installation

Vista users will have to perform a custom install, any attempt to start the Windows 10 installation in legacy versions of Windows will trigger the following error message:

Learn more: How to: Do a custom installation of Windows

Also keep in mind, the Rollback function in Windows 10 does not support custom installs, so if you decide you want to go back to Windows Vista, you will have reinstall it using original reinstall media. So try creating a backup of your installation if this matters to you. If you are running Windows Vista Business, Ultimate or Enterprise, you can use the built in Complete PC Backup to create a system image of your installation. Users running editions such as Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium, will need to use a third party utility such as EaseUs ToDo Backup (free).

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Having paid for Windows Vista, shouldn't users be able to download updates?  in fact updates to Vista are already disabled, I tried and tried, but no updates were found.  If enough users complained to Microsoft would they be embarrassesd enough to offer Vista updates?

Actually Vista updates are not stopped, I suggest you look at Vista updates.

However, after the total finishing of Vista support, MS states some spiel about XP on the page it diverts to. It then says about updating to 10. Go there and it will tell you how to do it from 7, so MS are totally giving up on Vista, (the most stable platform we have had) and probably going to say it was not theirs!!!! 


Windows Vista is 10 years old.

Apple no longer support Mac 10.5

Redhat, Ubuntu and any other major developer does not support operating systems from the year 2007.

Since its release, Microsoft has released Windows 7, Windows 7 8.0, 8.1 and Windows 10 1507, 1511, 1607 and the upcoming 1703. It would require too much resources to keep supporting Windows Vista.

It had a good run. Of course, you can keep using it even after April 2017, but reduce your usage on the Internet.

Windows Insider MVP
MVP-Windows and Devices for IT

Andre de costa, sir there is a comment I would like to make BUT not on here. Lookit not everybody whipped out and bought Vista the day it was made. Some did not install for a long time after the first versions came about. Secondly, whilst you may think there are reasons to throw away a machine that works perfectly well and I am asuming you have the financial resources, many have not nor need to do so!

  It is VERY condescending to take THAT attitude. There is no easy way to migrate to 10 for example, there are still many Bsods and only techies can solve them often. For example someone using the machine as a purely on internet device and word processor and say skype the machine works well and reliably. Why change. The attitude taken is similar to that of cars but the difference being that by law car manufacturers have to supply bits from the last day of production. How about doing THAT.

  If upgrading were easy then your comment would be possibly valid, but it is not, also stuff does not run on 10.

   I could go on but realise that not everybody is using a 2017 car, has a 4 bedroom house, and getting a salary of say $60,000. 

For information 7 had so many problems it was taken off sale in some areas and did not go on sale eg France until mid 2010. Even then in many areas Vista was on sale for another year due to problems with 7 as someone who has built and installed quite a few machines found that new machines with manufacturers warranty and boards made after jan 2011 were sold with Vista so that brings it down to about 5 years. Or are you suggesting that the suppliers never got the Vista from MS. Mine was from 2008.

  Thank gawd for AVG and spysweeper.

My Vista laptop has not been able to update for over a year already.

windows vista support has already ended, I cannot get vista updates.  I downloaded the vista update files, told these are not valid.

I agree wholeheartedly with those who have already commented.  My Vista 64 desktop computer was purchased brand new from Best Buy "7" years ago, and that in fact makes it 10 years NEWER than the 2000 Chevy Impala which I still CHOOSE to drive.  The difference is .. as Rogerinfrance  (above) so aptly pointed out,  I am still able to safely drive my beautiful red car because I can easily obtain OEM  parts for it right down to the smallest screw!  and "after all these years" ...

STANDING BY YOUR PRODUCT  frankly, is something that comes with the territory for virtually all responsible product manufacturers .. certainly that I've ever encountered in my lifetime.  Those who didn't or don't, generally aren't around to talk about it for very long.


Mr. Andre Da Costa (MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional), Insider, Community Moderator,  Wiki Author, )as for justifying Microsoft's actions by citing  .."Redhat, Ubuntu and other major developers "  do the same thing.... (choosing not to live up to their end of the bargain you mean??)  ...  perhaps that's why I chose a Microsoft product at the time .. because I mistakenly thought that Microsoft WOULD stand by it's consumers.   Lesson learned. 


JanetPhad   &   philstilliard,  's    (above)

comment on an additional  obvious deficit regarding the inability to install security updates LONG BEFORE the proposed termination of support re: Vista.  I can almost guarantee you that a great deal of time and effort went into trying, in vain, to figure out the presumed problems behind the hundreds of "failed" update attempts.  I certainly know that I amincluded in that wasted time .. and frankly I resent it.

I can see that you're an accomplished man, Mr. Da Costa, so you are probably a reasonable one as well.  If you would be so good as to advise your peers, on our behalf,  that there are many of us out here "hanging" because we're trying to conduct business just like you are .. and will be greatly handicapped by your company's actions. Don't you think at least partial assistance toward the purchase of one of those more up-to-date devices to which you refer might be a nice gesture for our troubles ... now that Vista "has had a good run" as you put it ... for YOU guys!?!

I have no doubt that you know how to reach us ..

Thanks for listening.

Hopefully you are of course making it that those with Vista can just redo Vista if they have the disc and not make it that one cannot do a reinstall. To stop the reinstallation of the software in the event of a glitch will certainly put MS in the "F U I am a bxxxxxd". Having only run Vista for the aforesaid 7 years it pales into the verge of taking the michael when one considers that I run a series 2/3 land rover and can still get parts (1969 109 soft top.) and still do repairs. Sure it does not comply with current emission status, but are you aware of the ecological impact of scrapping it and buying something not as good, for a lot more money, that does not what i want to do. OK so charge for the update if you so desire, but better would be to make sure that updates work with all your previous fare. Lets be honest, some things like replacement lamps, tyre, fan belts and the like are still available for cars 80 years old, is it too much to ask that MS allow newer programs to keep on running as some programs developed for Vista, and I have 2 that I paid for will not run on later versions, yet in conjunction with MS were not even available for several years after Vista became available. It is bad business to upset those that have habitually used your products, a very good way to encourage a new competitor on the block and certainly encourage a migration to a newer competitor who may have learnt lessons!

Just something that is passing my mind. Take empires, Greek, gone and now in a state of just Greece hanging on, Rome, Italy is in the Merde, so is France, and Germany lost hers. The UK is about to commit Hari Kari and is now about to fall on its sword to the extent that the Union jack be a thing of the past. Businesses are the same. MS will soon break up again with bits hanging in and on like skype. (I was one of the first to use skype using it some 12 years ago on dial up XP and with my name as the about 600,000 user.) Other bits like OS will be phased out and all software self starting without an OS like one from a certain Tandy electrical store some 20+ years ago. In fact a computer professor who I showed it to felt that eventually it may be more reliable than the then 3.1, he used it a lot after I showed him it.

Incidentally, updates currently are coming through for vista, my machine is still getting them. If you are not as of Mar 4th 2017 then you have other problems.


Having paid for Windows Vista, shouldn't users be able to download updates?  in fact updates to Vista are already disabled, I tried and tried, but no updates were found.  If enough users complained to Microsoft would they be embarrassesd enough to offer Vista updates?

Microsoft stopped my updates also months ago, very annoyed.  I have complained but they just direct me to the forums. 

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Last updated September 25, 2020 Views 24,330 Applies to: