For most users, it is clear that whatever the product is (and this includes both hardware and software), it is not feasible to keep it on the market for an indeterminate period, mainly because with the passage of time better and more advanced versions of the product will come out. product. So what does this process look like and what leads manufacturers to decide when to stop supporting a product?
The support that manufacturers give their products is limited
Imagine that you are AMD, manufacturer of -among other things- PC processors. Today, you launch a new processor that is revolutionary, that far surpasses the competition and that delivers excellent performance and features for a very attractive price, so a large number of users will buy that processor (or family of processors, of course).
However, time passes and you have found new manufacturing methods that are more efficient, improving performance and reducing electricity consumption, and at the same time cheaper. Of course, you launch a new generation of processors that surpasses the previous one, but since you have a large quantity of this previous generation manufactured, you continue to sell it although you may be forced to lower the price so as not to cannibalize the new generation. Of course, you continue to develop firmware and software for these processors as many users continue to use them.
Time continues to pass, several years in which you have launched several new generations of processors, each one better than the previous one, and there comes a time when, on the one hand, the sales of that first generation have frozen and, on the other hand, you need “space” in the factories to manufacture the new generations. It is that moment in which you must decide to stop manufacturing the first products because it is no longer worth it and also they are practically not sold, so you announce your EOL and you stop making it.
Of course, even if you have stopped manufacturing it, you still have quite a few units manufactured still unsold, so there comes a time when you will have to either decide to remove it from the stores, or wait for the shelves to empty (generally, accompanied by promotions going down the price to get rid of this remnant of units). At this point, it is when you discontinue it, that is, they stop selling these processors.
Surely thousands of users still have and use that first generation of processors, and as a manufacturer you cannot “leave them lying around”, so you keep releasing security updates for them. However, with the passage of time, there will come a time when users will also have updated their PCs with new generations of processors and less and less will use this first generation, at which time it will be absurd to continue developing anything for them, or in other words, continue to support them.
How do you calculate the ideal time to stop supporting a product? This depends a lot on the product and the manufacturer. For example, a useful life of a processor, which is usually around 10 years, is not the same as a keyboard, whose life span is 5 years being generous. The moment to stop providing support by the manufacturer is a subjective calculation, in which you believe that the product is no longer used by users, although it is true that some manufacturers also use this as a kind of technique to “Force” the user to change their hardware.
End of support also affects software
So far we have told you about the process of end of manufacture, discontinuation and end of support of a hardware product, putting as an example a processor for PC; However, this is quite similar for software, since as you can imagine, just as the manufacturing methods of hardware products are improved and new improved versions come out, the same happens with the software.
A clear example is with Microsoft and its Windows operating system, with the difference that they do not stop “making” it, but rather developing improvements and solving vulnerabilities for it. They therefore have it easier, since for them it is as simple as stopping selling a version when they launch the new one, neither more nor less.
As for the end of support, it is somewhat more complicated, and it is usually a much longer period than that of the hardware. Not surprisingly, even today many users still use Windows 7 despite the fact that it stopped being sold in January 2015 and its end of support was announced for January 2020.