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I stumbled on the Wikipedia page for Windows 2.x the other day and briefly scrolled through it. One thing that caught my eye was that it apparently was supported until December 2001.

While I know that Windows releases tend to get supported for 10+ years these days, I was a little surprised to see this for an ancient and less popular version like 2.x. Seeing how the 1.0 page also notes the same date, I'm guessing there was a general sweep date published at some point, but it raised the question in my mind of did Microsoft actively support these old releases up until 2001? If they did, is there any evidence of patches, documentation, or anything that would say that this was more than lip service?

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    Well, the one person who used 2.x was probably a vice president at Microsoft by then, so, yeah, they supported them.
    – Jon Custer
    Apr 28, 2022 at 12:51
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    Keep in mind that some companies, even if they drop general support, may still offer extended support for a fee. This can be a decent revenue generator. An example is all those ATMs that were running OS/2 long after its normal life was over.
    – paxdiablo
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:13
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    What was the support given, one might wonder actually. According to web.archive.org/web/20050814234847/http://support.microsoft.com/… Microsoft stopped support of Windows 3.0 and all older versions at the same date. My guess is that someone just happened to realize that "Hey, we are legally supposed to support all these products, let's just drop the support officially from today."
    – UncleBod
    Apr 28, 2022 at 14:39
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    @UncleBod that is my suspicion as well; with the age of the internet in full steam by that point, they probably did that to avoid someone asking for a patch/support since it was now practical to actually get it via internet instead of begging Microsoft to ship a box of floppies :-)
    – bjb
    Apr 28, 2022 at 16:04
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    @UncleBod I notice that MS-DOS 6.0 is also listed there with the same date, and that it's a few months after Windows XP finally made the NT kernel the default for home users. I wonder if there was a general roadmap drawn up for ending support for all DOS-based products, and these were mopped up as a "phase 0".
    – IMSoP
    Apr 28, 2022 at 17:00

2 Answers 2

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The current family of Microsoft Product Lifecycle policies took effect on October 15th 2002.

Before then, to the best of my memory, Microsoft's support commitments for operating systems were a bit vague, and many queries were redirected to the vendor of the hardware you were running Windows on. It seems very possible that when they started developing an organised system of product lifecycles, they decided to announce end of support on many old OSes to clear them out. The December 2001 date is plausible for that.

Microsoft Office had an organised support life rather earlier, if the EoL dates in Wikipedia are any guide.

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There were no patches for these ancient releases. They came out with their odd version number like 2.11 and 3.11, or DOS 6.22 and that was it. NT had Service Packs and 98 had automatic updates but it installed only a handful. There was a 3.1x patch for the y2k bug everyone was talking about, but not for Windows 2, so it was obviously already out of support. The security initiative with individual patches started in the early 2000s after every computer was online and only after malware was spreading. The December 2001 date surely coincides with the realisation that there are serious security issues and that regular patches are needed but will not be released for those old versions. The monthly patches were introduced 2003.

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    More drastically speaking: What would be considered a security breach these days in an online world, would have been considered just user error or malice (you can break it that way so DON'T!) in most of the 1980's to mid 1990's PC ecosystem.... May 30, 2022 at 22:23

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