Six months out, Microsoft (MSFT) already is sounding a clarion bell to inform users that mainstream support for all versions of Windows 7 and all editions of Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and Storage Server 2008 concludes Jan. 13, 2015. The end of Windows Phone 7.8 mainstream support arrives far sooner, Sept. 14, or about two months from now.

Those product lines were included in a blog the vendor posted on upcoming support dates. Microsoft supports its products with free security patches and other fixes for five years and then transitions users to another five-year period of what it calls extended support, continuing to provide security updates at no charge but charging for other fixes that usually come as part of a licensing agreement. At the end of that 10-year period, which Microsoft sometimes extends, the vendor stops all manner of support—security or otherwise—in what it calls End of Support. From there you're on your own, unless you can cut a paid deal to further extend your support.

Extended support for Windows 7, which includes free security but no feature updates, will run through Jan. 20, 2020. Users running Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 lose mainstream support Jan. 13, 2015, and extended support Jan. 14, 2020.

The fact that Microsoft extended support for Windows XP for two years past the typical 10-year old cutoff date leaves open the possibility the vendor may follow suit with Windows 7, which currently commands some 50.5 percent of the worldwide operating system market as of June, according to Netmarketshare data.

But there’s no word on that so far.

Microsoft's blog alert also listed service packs it will retire in the next six months, products it’s moving into extended support in the coming six months and products it no longer will support in the next six months. Microsoft explains the latter category as “there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.”