Microsoft is officially ending support for Windows 7 on Tuesday 14 January 2020.
This means that computers and other devices running the operating system will no longer be able to receive official software updates or critical security patches.
Additionally, Microsoft will no longer provide technical support to Windows 7 users.
The company has recommended that users with systems running Windows 7 upgrade to Windows 10 to avoid security risks.
“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,” Microsoft stated.
Businesses that rely on Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise for legacy systems can opt for Extended Security Updates (ESU), which provides supplemental Windows 7 support until January 2023 for an additional cost.
Wave of Windows 7 attacks
Users who choose to remain on Windows 7 could be exposed to hackers and malicious attackers once security updates cease.
A report published by researchers at Webroot in October 2019 revealed a huge increase of infections on machines running Windows 7 in 2019.
In its mid-year update of the Webroot Threat Report, it said that Windows 7 exploits had climbed 71% from 2018.
The report also found that Windows 10 systems were less likely to be exploited.
“In general, computers using the Windows 7 operating system are twice as likely to become infected as those running Windows 10, with approximately 0.12 infections per Windows 7 device so far in 2019, and 0.05 infections per Windows 10 device,” the report said.
There is good news for users who are still running older versions of Windows.
Back in 2015, Microsoft announced a free upgrade to Windows 10 for legitimate copies of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.
Although this offer officially expired in July 2016, various users have reported that they were still able to upgrade free of charge as of January 2020.
To make use of the upgrade tool, users must go to the Windows 10 download page and select “Download tool now”. This will download the Media Creation Tool executable.
Users can then open the file and follow the instructions to install Windows 10.