Microsoft has announced that its decade-old Windows 7 operating system will stop receiving software updates, technical support for any issues, and security updates and fixes from 14 January 2020, asking users to migrate to Windows 10 variants at the earliest possible.
The global software giant said that while technical and security support to Windows 7 will cease early next year, the software will continue to function but users must upgrade to newer versions of the operating systems to ensure their data is safe and out of the reach of hackers.
"After 14 January 2020, if your computer is running Windows 7, it will no longer receive security updates. Therefore, it's important that you move to a modern operating system such as Windows 10, which can provide the latest security updates to help keep you and your data safer. In addition, Microsoft customer service will no longer be available to provide Windows 7 technical support," it said.
While Microsoft is recommending users to upgrade to Windows 10 Home for personal and household use, enterprise users are being asked to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to avail additional features such as BitLocker, remote desktop, and domain join to support professionals.
Office 365 apps on Windows 7 will receive security updates till January 2023
Microsoft also warned that post-January 14 2020, Office 365 users will not receive new feature updates to Office 365 even though Office security updates will be provided up till January 2023.
"Using Office 365 on older, unsupported operating systems may cause performance and reliability issues over time. As a valuable Office 365 subscriber, we want to continue to provide a stable Office 365 experience. Therefore, if you're using Office 365 on a computer running Windows 7 we strongly recommend you move to Windows 10," Microsoft said.
Even though it has been several years since Windows 10 was first introduced and Microsoft also offered a grace period for Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, a large number of home and enterprise users are still using devices that run old and unsupported versions of the Windows operating system.
66% of SMBs still using devices that run expired & unsupported operating systems
In July this year, a study by Alert Logic found that two out every three devices used by SMBs (66 percent) were running versions of the Windows operating system that had either expired, were unsupported, or are due to expire by January next year. Many of these devices ran Windows versions that were over ten years old.
The use of expired and outdated software was not restricted to the choice of the operating system among SMBs. Alert Logic found that more than 30 percent, or almost a third of them, were also using Exchange 2000, an email server that has been unsupported for nearly ten years.
"Once the operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, no further research is done to identify or resolve vulnerabilities, and no new patches are developed to fix flaws in the operating system. Running outdated and unsupported operating systems exposes these SMBs to significant risk.
"In addition, most regulatory and industry compliance frameworks require than operating systems are patched and up to date, which means that running an unsupported operating system makes compliance impossible," says Tony Bradley, Senior Manager of Content Marketing for Alert Logic.