Support for Windows 7 ended on 14 January 2020, meaning that Microsoft will no longer provide technical support, software updates, and security fixes for the operating system.
“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,” said Microsoft.
“Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10.”
Microsoft has published a page highlighting how users and businesses can transition to Windows 10, and it also recommended that customers replace their older computers rather than simply upgrading their operating systems.
“Not only are new modern PCs fast (thanks to solid-state drives) and durable with batteries that last longer, the average price for a great PC is considerably less than it was 5-10 years ago,” said Microsoft.
Upgrade for free
However, it is still possible to upgrade your current computer to Windows 10 at no charge.
While Microsoft originally offered a free upgrade for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users, this expired in July 2016.
However, various users have reported that they are still able to upgrade free of charge as of January 2020.
To do this, users must go to the Windows 10 download page and select “Download tool now” to run the Media Creation Tool executable file.
Users must then follow the instructions provided to install Windows 10.
Officially, Microsoft says that Windows 7 users should purchase and download Windows 10.
Windows 7 is still popular
Despite official support ending, a substantial percentage of PC users still run Windows 7 as their operating system.
NetMarketShare’s data shows that as of December 2019, Windows 7 boasted 26.64% of total desktop operating system market share – which is still nearly half of Windows 10’s market share.
This also positions Windows 7 as more popular than the latest version of Mac OS (X 10.15), as well as Windows 8.1.
Security flaws and upgrade notifications
Additionally, Microsoft has already disclosed a severe bug that is present in Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10.
This bug allows attackers to spoof security certificates so that users are unaware a file is malicious. This opens the opportunity for malicious parties to run man-in-the-middle attacks or to decrypt confidential information.
This is the sort of security flaw that will no longer be patched on Windows 7 – meaning that those who still use the operating system are at extreme risk of being attacked by malicious parties.
As part of its attempts to move users onto Windows 10, Microsoft is displaying a full-screen upgrade notification which encourages users to switch to the supported operating ssytem
“Starting on January 15, 2020, a full-screen notification will appear that describes the risk of continuing to use Windows 7 Service Pack 1 after it reaches end of support on January 14, 2020,” said Microsoft.
Windows 7 operating system versions which are displaying this notification include:
- Home Basic
- Home Premium
Microsoft also explained that the notification will not appear on domain-joined machines or machines in kiosk mode.
It will also not be shown to users who have purchased the Extended Security Update.