Last week, Microsoft made it public that it planned to stop allowing its PC partners to sell machines with Windows 7 preloaded as of October 30, 2014.
The Redmondians are now saying that date was posted in error. The new official word is that Microsoft still has yet to determine when the Windows 7 preload cut-off date will be. (Neowin reported the change from October 30, 2014 to "TBD" over the weekend.)
A spokesperson supplied the following statement explaining the mix-up:
"We have yet to determine the end of sales date for PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled. The October 30, 2014 date that posted to the Windows Lifecycle page globally last week was done so in error. We have since updated the website to note the correct information; however, some non-English language pages may take longer to revert to correctly reflect that the end of sales date is 'to be determined.' 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."
Microsoft also confirmed that the other cut-off date -- the end of availability of boxed copies of Windows 7 sold at retail -- was, indeed, October 30, 2013.
It will be interesting to see if Microsoft ends up sticking with the October 30, 2014 OEM cutoff date or not. That timing would make sense if the Softies think they can get more Windows 7 users on a path toward upgrading (or at least considering upgrading) to Windows 8 within a year's time. If things aren't going so well, perhaps Microsoft will push the PC-preload date out further.
The end-of-support date for Windows 7, as of now, has not been extended. Mainstream (free, Microsoft-provided) support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 installed isn't expiring until January 13, 2015. Microsoft will continue to provide security fixes for Windows 7 for free until the end of extended support, which is January 14, 2020.
Author:  Mary Jo Foley