Microsoft determines the support lifecycle of each of its products from the day that they are released: all products intended for private use are given five years of “mainstream support”, while products designed for enterprise use receive an additional five years of “extended support”; in practice, a product’s support lifecycle is always a few days or weeks longer. During the second phase, the only patches Microsoft will provide free of charge (at its download centre and via the Windows update function) are those which the it considers to be security related.
From 10 April, 2012, the Home editions of Windows Vista will no longer be supported. The Business and Enterprise editions of Vista with their comparatively wider range of features will be supported until 2017. However, Vista Ultimate, which has the widest range of features, is counted as a Home edition, and Microsoft’s support for this edition will also end in April 2012.