Windows 7 security patches officially coming to an end

Microsoft has started issuing desktop alerts to Windows 7 users warning that security updates for the operating system will soon be coming to an end.

Windows 7 will no longer receive patches to fix security issues from 14 January 2020 onwards, and users are being urged to upgrade to a newer operating system as a result.

It forms part of Microsoft's strategy of phasing out older software in order to focus resources on updating its newest portfolio. From 18 April, users on Windows 7 will begin receiving warnings about the approaching cut-off for a system that first debuted in 2009.

Despite its age, Windows 7 is still popular with users, with just under 40% of the market share, according to NetApplications - which is, in fact, 2.5% higher than estimates released in 2018. Microsoft are keen to get as many users as possible onto its flagship Windows 10 OS, particularly as it comes bundled for free with Office 365 subscriptions - that OS currently accounts for 37% of the market.

Windows 7 remains the most installed OS on the market

Microsoft has said users can continue to use Windows 7, but that "once support ends, your PC will become more vulnerable to security risks".

Users have been aware for some time that Windows 7 would eventually be killed off, with the company announcing last June that it would no longer be answering technical questions on the Windows 7 Community forum, alongside Windows 8.1, and the 2010 and 2013 editions of Office.

Microsoft has recognised that the upgrade process is a big worry for organisations and as such have sought to make the process quicker and easier. With compatibility in mind, the company has already launched the Desktop Aperture program.

As a start, Desktop Aperture allows organisations to deploy "pilots" of the newer version of Microsoft platforms such as Windows or Office, allowing them to spot potential issues and making it easier to deploy the latest software.

With time running out, Richard Edwards, a research analyst at Freeform Dynamics, suggests that companies shouldn't necessarily rush to Windows 10 as a solution.

"There are other ways and means out there if Windows 10 doesn't appeal," he said. "Look at these alternatives seriously, including Windows 10 in S mode, and remember that the tools we use shape the way we do things. PC hardware can run a variety of operating systems."

Microsoft also announced that support for Internet Explorer 7 on Windows 7 would also end alongside the security patches.