Doomsday arrives for Windows 7 tech support, leaving users to fend for themselves

14 Jan

PC users still running 2009’s Windows 7 operating system are despairing online and paying their respects as Microsoft finally ends its technical support for the software.

The 10-year-old operating system is still one of the most popular in use, making up an estimated 33 percent of the global share, second only to Windows 10. Roughly a quarter of all Windows users are still using the out-of-date OS according to StatCounter. As of Tuesday, though, there will be no more updates or patches to shore up defenses against ever-evolving cyber-attacks on Windows 7 users. 

While Microsoft did warn users for the last five years that it would end support for the product, this appears to have fallen on deaf ears judging by reactions online.

Many computers in the public sectors of nations around the world still run on the decade-old system. However, companies and organizations that are unprepared or unwilling to migrate to a new operating system can pay Microsoft for extended security updates for the next three years, on an ever-increasingly expensive, per-device basis.

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Users can still update their antivirus software, but unscrupulous hackers will likely find other exploits to crack the system, which will be susceptible to malware, such as the infamous WannaCry ransomware attack which crippled the NHS in the UK for a time. The impact of the attack could have been limited had NHS staff updated their computers properly, a government report concluded in 2018. 

“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. Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post.

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