Today is the day that millions of Windows 7 users worldwide will stop receiving support from Microsoft. Microsoft is going to stop supporting Windows 7 from today (January 14th) in order to focus on newer technologies.
For the last 12 months, Microsoft has been warning users that it will stop support for Windows 7 including security updates, bug fixes and technical support. Statistics website statcounter estimates that over 25% of Windows users are still using Windows 7.
Users will be able to continue using their computer after Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7. Microsoft will deliver a full screen pop up warning users that their OS (operating system) is no longer supported and will no longer receive security updates, software updates or tech support.
In short, if the bad guys find a flaw in Windows 7, Microsoft will not fix it. Microsoft have suggested users will be at a greater risk of malware and viruses, and recommend that users upgrade to Windows 10. Malware can be used to steal financial and personal data, spy on users and even hold companies to ransom until they pay up.
The NCSC warns Windows 7 users not to use email or online banking.
A spokesperson for the NCSC said: “The NCSC would encourage people to upgrade devices currently running Windows 7, allowing them to continue receiving software updates which help protect their devices.
“We would urge those using the software after the deadline to replace unsupported devices as soon as possible, to move sensitive data to a supported device and not to use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts.
“They should also consider accessing email from a different device.”
The agency also indicated that soon after Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014, hackers started exploiting weaknesses in the operating system.
In 2017, the NHS was hit by the Wannacry ransomware attack – a government report concluded that the attack could have been avoided had the affected NHS trusts applied updated security patches.
A lot of companies rely on software that only runs on Windows 7. In fact, just over 25% of our Projectfusion and safedrop user base is still machines running Windows 7 (this tallies with the statistics provided by Statcounter above). So what happens next?
Businesses can pay Microsoft to continue receiving updates for Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise. These updates will provide up to 3 years of security patches to Windows 7. These updates will not include bug fixes and Microsoft will not provide technical support.
Charges start from £19 per device up to £200 per device. The costs increase each year (up to year three). These costs will be significant for organisations with a lot of machines running Windows 7. Windows report has obtained a breakdown of the costs and published them here.
Whilst Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows 7, Professional and Enterprise edition users can continue receiving security patches at a significant cost. Stay safe online, upgrade to Windows 10. If you’re a business user, consider paying for the additional three years of protection.
Google has announced it will continue to support its Chrome browser on Windows 7 until 2021. Microsoft have not yet said when they will stop support for their own Microsoft Edge browser running on Windows 7.
Rik Ferguson, vice-president of security research at Trend Micro says: “Running an unpatched machine means that the flaws in the code will never be fixed and as exploits for those flaws become known and widespread, your chances of being successfully attacked grow very rapidly,”
Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10, you’ll notice it looks a little different. Maybe you’ve been using Windows 10 for a while, but miss the look and feel of Windows 7. Here’s a guide from The Guardian to help you make Windows 10 look like Windows 7 (without the security flaws!)
Our advice, upgrade your PCs as soon as possible to help prevent cyber attacks. Or get a Mac (but we would say that as most of our team prefers working with Apple Mac’s!)