Microsoft has made some changes to its support policies for Windows 7, Vista, and XP in order to streamline and simplify its Lifecycle support schedule. If you're not familiar, Microsoft has its plans for when it'll stop updating older versions of the operating system completely laid out: five years of complete support for everyone with at least five more years of security updates for commercial users only. That changed this month, however, and now all customers will benefit from those extra five years of guaranteed security updates.

As ZDNet points out, Microsoft's updated policy won't have much of an effect on users because security updates after mainstream support ended have always made their way to all users, even if they were only intended for enterprise. What does the news mean for each of the current versions of Windows? Well, XP will be officially supported for all until April 8th, 2014, Vista until April 11, 2017, and 7 until January 14th, 2020. Unless Windows 8 gets delayed for quite a while, it looks like Microsoft will soon be working hard to keep four different operating systems up to date until it pulls the plug on XP in a couple of years.