Vista's Service Pack 1 will exit all support on July 12, this month's Patch Tuesday. According to Computer World, that will be last time security updates will be issued for the aging operating system. Microsoft supports its business products for 10 years, the first five in what it calls "mainstream support," and the second five in "extended support." In extended support, only companies with special contracts get non-security fixes. Microsoft does continue (in most cases) to provide security fixes for all persons and companies during the total ten year period. This situation is different from Office XP, which is now officially being retired. Vista SP1 users can upgrade to Vista SP2 and receive further support. Microsoft released SP2 for Vista in May of 2009.
Users can update to Vista SP2 through Windows Update, or by manually downloading the 32-bit or 64-bit versions from Microsoft's download site. In April 2012, Vista's consumer versions (including Service Pack 2) will exit all support. These versions include Vista Home Basic, Vista Home Premium, and Vista Ultimate. In April 2017, support for Vista Business and Vista Enterprise will end, as these are used typically in corporate environments.
Users can continue to run the software, however. There is no "kill switch" to disable or cripple the software. However, Vista SP1 will become extremely vulnerable to attack once Microsoft stops providing security updates.