Microsoft puts in the attic its old but still widespread operating system that will no longer have security updates exposing users to viruses and cyberattacks
Microsoft stopped providing free security updates for Windows 7 as of January 14, 2020. For users who still use this operating system, this means computers more vulnerable to viruses and cyberattacks.
The Redmond company’s decision will affect hundreds of millions of machines globally, as Windows 7, launched 11 years ago, is still running on one-third of the PCs that use Microsoft systems, according to NetMarketShare data.
What risks at the end of a program’s lifecycle
Typically, tech companies phase out older systems after several years, continuously updating the latest versions of their programs. Windows 7, the successor to Windows Vista, was released in 2009, gaining wide popularity among users.
Windows 8, developed in 2012, will have free extended support, including security patches, until 2023.
As explained by Microsoft itself in an information page, the definitive farewell to Windows 7, having already established the end of mainstream support on January 13, 2015, implies the interruption of all technical support, and nothing more than software updates and interventions to solve any flaws in the program, exploitable by cybercriminals to damage and violate devices, spy, steal information, documents or bank credentials.
In other words, computers that have Windows 7 installed will continue to work, but at the increasing risk of those who use them.
Switch to Windows 10
The use of a PC no longer able to use patches means that the bugs in the code will not be fixed, so that, as the ways to access the computer system become more and more known and widespread, the possibilities of cyberattack increase more quickly.
Given the high risks, Microsoft recommends that users switch to Windows 10, the operating system on 900 million devices.
In theory, it would be possible to install it on older computers, provided they have certain minimum features, such as a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, and 32 GB hard disk.
However, for Microsoft, this solution is not advisable and it would be better to rely on new PCs, more advanced and suitable for Windows 10.
In all ways, a user can download the operating system free of charge from a special page made available to users who wish to start this operation.
Exceptions for corporate users
Microsoft will allow businesses, large and small, to use Windows 7 for longer. In fact, extended security updates for this operating system are expected to remain available until 2023. The service will, however, be provided for a fee ranging from $25 to $200 per computer. These are considerable costs, sometimes compulsory because several companies and organizations have applications that are only compatible with Windows 7, and vary depending on the version of the operating system adopted (Professional or Enterprise).