Microsoft initially planned to end support for some Windows Vista versions, Windows Home Basic and Ultimate for example, in April 2012. The effect would have been devastating for customers running those editions of the operating systems, as they would not receive patches, both normal and security related, anymore after that date. It would also mean that Windows XP would outlive these Vista editions thanks to its extended support end date.
Only Vista Home Premium, Business and Enterprise were known to receive extended support until April 2017. Microsoft recently has made changes to Vista’s product life cycle, and published those changes on the Microsoft Support website.
Mainstream support for all Vista editions will still end on April 10, 2012. The change affects the extended support end date, which has now been set to April 11, 2017 for all Windows Vista versions.
This means that all Vista users will receive free security updates for their system until April 2017. The Lifepolicy FAQ over at Microsoft highlights the differences between mainstream and extended support phases. Extended support includes:Paid support (per-incident, per hour, and others)Security update supportNon-security hotfix support: Requires extended hotfix agreement, purchased within 90 days of mainstream support ending.Product-specific information that is available by using the online Microsoft Knowledge BaseProduct-specific information that is available by using the Support site at Microsoft Help and Support to find answers to technical questions
Provided support excludes the following:No-charge incident supportWarranty claimsDesign changes and feature requests
Windows XP in comparison will reach the end of its extended support period on April 8, 2014.
Including Home and Ultimate editions of Vista in the extended support phase is the right move, especially since the Ultimate edition back then was advertised by Microsoft as, uhm, the ultimate edition of the operating system. It did not make a lot of sense to exclude the priciest version of Windows Vista from the extended support lifecycle of the operating system. (via Winfuture)