Since this review was originally published, Windows 7 has been superseded by Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Windows 9 is expected to replace both next year but not before another major update, Windows 8.1 Update 2 (or Windows 8.2) is released.

Its first Service Pack was unveiled on February 22 2011 and can be downloaded here. According to Microsoft, the update includes "previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7". It also controversially removed the feature that allowed other alternative browsers to be offered to customers.

Also on the list were support for Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), a 256-bit instruction set extension for processors, "new improvements to features and services in Windows 7, such as improved reliability when connecting to HDMI audio devices, printing using the XPS Viewer, and restoring previous folders in Windows Explorer after restarting".

Other minor updates include:

  • Windows Management Framework 3.0 (December 2012): it delivered updated versions of Windows PowerShell, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Windows Remote Management (WinRM).
  • Windows 7 SP1 Platform Update (February 2013): it updated Internet Explorer to v10 as well as rolled out a number of wholesale enhancements.
  • Windows 7 Enterprise hotfix rollup (March 2013): A compendium of hotfix updates that focused on the businesss market.

A complete list of downloads available for the 10 versions of Windows 7 on the market can be found here.

Windows 7 is now on Microsoft's end-of-support list with the mainstream support ending on January 13, 2015. Despite this, you can still buy consumer and business computers running Windows 7. The OS is still surprisingly popular; it is the best selling operating system on Amazon (UK) and the most prevalent globally, capturing more than 50% of the market share.

A must-read list of features we've written over the past five years for Windows 7 include:

If you've come to this review because you're thinking of buying a new PC with Windows 7 pre-installed, you'll have to hurry. Microsoft has announced that it will stop supplying certain versions of Windows 7 - those being Home Basic, Home Premium and Ultimate - to PC makers after October 31. After that date, retailers will move to selling remaining stock, but they won't be getting any in, paving the way for PCs pre-loaded with Windows 8.

Microsoft has yet to announce a cut off point for Windows 7 Professional, so if you don't mind going pro, you can consider your deadline extended - for now. Windows 7 Mainstream (meaning free) support ends on January 2015, and extended support will end on January 14, 2020.