What’s In Your Computer’s Future

Just to show that technology marches on with or without us, both Microsoft and Apple have recently announced information regarding their operating system upgrades coming in the not-so-distant future.

Note: If you don’t care to read all the technical mumbo jumbo that makes us geeks and gear heads get excited, here’s the bottom line. The writing is on the wall for both Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and Windows XP (and possibly Vista) and they will be going the way of the dodo. While this doesn’t mean you have to replace or upgrade your computer or operating system, you need to be aware you may not be able to take advantage of certain software or features in the future. And, securing your PC, as well as maintaining or repairing it, can take more time and be more costly.

Windows 8

Microsoft has been discussing Windows 8 for some time now. A developer’s preview was released September 13, 2011 at their BUILD conference, and a consumer preview is expected to be announced Februrary 29.

With Windows 8, Microsoft, like Apple, continues the march towards a convergence of devices by bringing features first introduced in their phone and tablet operating system (Metro) to the desktop. The most visible change will be a tile-based desktop and start menu pulled directly from their mobile operating system. There will be many other changes made such as the inclusion of Internet Explorer 10 and integration with both their Windows Live ID and SkyDrive services – much like Apple’s iCloud services.

As more information becomes available, we’ll continue to sort through it and pass along anything that we feel may be pertinent.

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OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

Not to be left out, Apple announced, and released on February 16, a developer preview of the next version of their operating system OS X 10.8, or continuing their love of felines – Mountain Lion. This release, expected sometime this summer, marks the beginning of a trend of yearly incremental updates to the operating system, rather than significant upgrades. A process Apple first started with their release of OS X 10.7 Lion last summer. This release schedule is similar to the release schedule of their other operating system iOS – the software that powers iPhones and iPads.

Like Lion, Mountain Lion is a continuation of Apple’s post-PC view that a device is a device – signaling deeper integration with online services – such as their own iCloud and pulling a few more features from iOS.

More information:



Important Note:

Its important to note that both of the operating systems mentioned above are currently in development and neither are meant to be used on a day to day basis. Any information that is currently known is subject to change between now and the actual release of either.

What about my current version of Windows or OS X?

With the release of new versions of Windows and OS X, the first question that comes to mind is what happens with whatever version of Windows or OS X you are currently running.

Windows Lifeycle Policy

Support for various versions of the Windows operating system are defined by 2 main phases: mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support typically lasts a minimum of 5 years from a products release date, or 2 years after its successor is released. Extended support is typically an additional 2 year period after the 2nd successive product is released.

While there are differences between what type of support is offered in each phase, it important to realize that the extended support phase is intended to be a wind-down and phase out time frame when businesses and other users should begin making and implementing plans to replace their computers and/or upgrade the operating system used on those computers.

Windows XP – must be at Service Pack 3 (older service packs not supported)
mainstream support ended April 14, 2009
extended support ends April 8, 2014

Windows Vista – must be at Service Pack 2 (older service packs not supported)
mainstream support ends April 10, 2012
extended support ends April 11, 2017

Windows 7 – must be at Service Pack 1 (older service packs not supported)
mainstream support ends April 12, 2015
extended support ends January 14, 2020


OS X Support

Unlike Microsoft, Apple primarily focuses on the sale of computers, more so than the software that powers them. While they will obsolete machines with each release of their operating system, they tend to focus updates on the current and previous operating system. At the moment, this is OS X 10.7 Lion and OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

With the release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion this summer, its a safe bet this “policy” will continue. A handful of older machines will be obsoleted, and Apple’s software focus will shift to OS X 10.7 and OS X 10.8 – leaving OS X 10.6, currently at 10.6.8, wherever it is at at that time.

And, since it was briefly mentioned, Apple considers machines “vintage” at approximately 5 years and obsolete at 7 years.