By Brooke Crothers
Published March 24, 2019
Microsoft has started notifying Windows 7 users that support for the operating system is “nearing the end.”
“After 10 years, support for Windows 7 is coming to an end on January 14, 2020,” the software giant said. But ending Windows 7 won’t be a cinch. Released in 2009, it is still one of the most widely deployed operating systems worldwide.
“Windows 7 is still very popular,” Kurt Mackie, Senior News Producer at Converge360, which publishes Redmond Magazine, told Fox News in an email.
And its popularity doesn’t appear to be fading. Windows 7 gained users in February, according to Computerworld, citing figures from Net Applications which tracks operating system share numbers.
In February, Windows 7 had roughly 38 percent of all PCs and about 44 percent of those running Windows, according to Net Applications’ numbers.
That’s close to Windows 10's share, which actually fell slightly in February, ending the month at about 40 percent of all personal computers and 46 percent of all PCs running Windows.
With the end of Windows 7 approaching, what can users do? They can keep using the operating system but it will become a dicey proposition – unless they start paying for support.
“Windows 7 will continue to run but Microsoft won’t issue any more free updates for it, including security patches,” Converge360’s Mackie said.
That could make Windows 7 PCs extremely vulnerable. “Once flaws in Windows 7 are publicly known, they are frequently used for attacks. After the January 2020 date, though, Microsoft likely won’t fix these vulnerabilities for most users,” he added.
Indeed, that’s what Microsoft says on its support page. “While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware,” Microsoft says.
Windows 7 users will have the option to pay Microsoft for software patches – what Microsoft calls Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. But that won’t be cheap and the price will increase each year. Then paid patches will finally terminate after three years.