Bad news for those of you who, for some reason, need to purchase Windows 7 from your local retailer. Microsoft has quietly discontinued the sale of the operating system as of October 30th of this year. You still have one year - October 30th 2014 - to purchase a desktop or laptop with Windows 7 pre-installed before Windows 7 fades away forever.
Microsoft launched Windows 8.1 on October 17th of 2013, nearly a year after Windows 8 was released. With Windows 7 set to reach its "end of sales" date on October 30th of 2014, now is the time to think about moving up to Windows 8 if you haven't already done so - or snag up a copy of Windows 7 before it reaches its end of sales.
"End of sales refers to the date when a particular version of Windows is no longer shipped to retailers or Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). Examples of OEMs are Dell and Toshiba - PC manufacturers who often preinstall Windows software. When a version of Windows reaches its end of sales date, it's a good time to think about upgrading," Microsoft explains.
So while Microsoft has already stopped selling Windows 7 retail boxes, many retail outlets such as Amazon and Newegg continue to sell it. And once the "end of sales" date passes, don't be surprised if you still see retail outlets selling Windows 7-powered PCs.
It's hard to believe that the Windows 7 era has already ended as it feels like just yesterday we were tinkering around with a Beta build. Windows 7 SP1 will continue to receive support from Microsoft in the form of security updates up until January of 2015 (mainstream support) and January 2020 (extended support).
Update: It appears that Microsoft has changed the end of sales life. The Windows lifecycle website now shows Windows 7 end of sales as "to be determined." Read more about it here.
Update 2: Microsoft has confirmed the October 30th end of sales life for Windows 7 - but has not provided a clear date on when the sales of PCs would end. "We apologize for any confusion this may have caused our customers. We’ll have more details to share about the Windows 7 lifecycle once they become available. Additionally, we are confirming that the Retail software end of sales date for Windows 7 did happen on October 30, 2013," a Microsoft spokesperson stated.