Microsoft is heavily incentivising Windows 7 users to migrate over to Windows 10; the tech powerhouse has already started issuing alerts prompting the change.
In a blog post discussing the move, Microsoft insisted it is ending Windows 7 support so it can concentrate on “creating newer technologies and great new experiences” and has also warned of the security risks present for anyone that continues to use the 2009 operating system.
The firm said: “Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences.
“The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available for the product.
“Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.
“You can continue to use Windows 7, but after support has ended, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
“Windows will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.”
To elaborate on the possible risks associated with the continued use of Windows 7 after support for the software ends, Express.co.uk spoke with McAfee’s Raj Samani and Gary Davis who jointly agreed the software will become a greater threat from hackers and other malicious third-parties once Microsoft cuts support.
Samani is a McAfee fellow and chief scientist while Davis is the firm’s chief consumer security evangelist.
In particular, Samani highlighted the computer worm Nimda that affected computers running Windows 95 to XP and quickly spread to a deluge devices.
He recollected a patch for the malicious software debuted months before the malware was released and started affecting machines across the globe, highlighting that many computer users are content with using their device as long they continue to work.
While it is not certain malware of a similar scale could spread to those who remain using Windows 7, it does highlight the extreme risks that can be associated with doing so.
Samani explained: “The first ever paper I wrote was on Nimda, so nearly two decades ago, and I remember the patch for Nimda was published in September and the malware was actually developed the following March.
“Well, it could have been avoided if people had patched but the reason people don’t want to patch is because it already works.
“So these are the challenges that we face which is we make this assumption that security is the most important thing but actually it’s not, making sure the device is functional.
“But you know, Microsoft have to cut support at some point.”
While the McAfee fellow and chief scientist suggested similar attacks could affect users if they continue to use unsupported software such as Windows 7, he also highlighted the dichotomy a legion of critical infrastructure pillars face when upgrading their operating system.
Samani used the examples of hospitals relying on older operating systems as a case in point; in these instances a 100 percent up-time is required which does not always allow for software updates to be implemented.
He said: “But you look at some environments like critical infrastructure, they have a demand for a 100 percent up-time and if you’re in a hospital and the nurse says ‘well I’m sorry sir we are not able to treat you because somebody is doing a Windows update’ and then you’re like well ‘come on really?’.
“We have this expectation that systems have a 100 percent up-time for certain environments, well, when are you going to update to the latest operating system?”
Further underlining the risks of using outdated operating systems, Samani used the example of the devastation WannaCry was able to cause to over an estimated 200,000 computers.
He declared: “We can look at Windows XP as kind of the example of that [what can happen to unsupported software].
“The challenge you have with outdated operating systems is companies will end up dropping support, stop producing patches.
“And the impact of that, look at WannaCry as a great case in point.”
Microsoft is not only strongly imploring its users to upgrade to Windows 10, but the firm is also suggesting they do so on new hardware too, despite the fact some Windows 7 machines will be capable of running the new operating system.
The American tech giant will cut support for Windows 7 at the start of next year.
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