In October 2009, Microsoft committed to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7. This 10-year period ends on January 14, 2020, which means technical assistance and software updates, including security patches, for the operating system (OS) will no longer be available. That’s why Microsoft is strongly urging Windows 7 users to move to Windows 10 before the former OS’s end of life (EOL).

Why Microsoft has to end Windows 7 support

Microsoft has a policy that stipulates their products’ life cycles — how their products start and end. The life of a Microsoft product begins when it is released into the market and ends when the company stops providing support.

More importantly, Microsoft wants to concentrate on newer technologies such as their latest operating systems, Windows 8 and 10, to provide a better user experience.

What Windows 7 EOL means to you

If things go awry or you run into software bugs, you won’t be able to call Microsoft to fix the problem. That also means they will not take responsibility for data loss due to security breaches on Windows 7.

But the Windows 7 EOL doesn’t mean that the OS will stop working on January 14, 2020. You’ll still be able to use it for as long as you want. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Here are the risks involved with using Windows 7 beyond its life cycle.

#1. Security vulnerabilities

Over the course of Windows 7’s active and extended support period, more than 989 security patches were released for this product. These patches fixed vulnerabilities that hackers used to exploit systems, so without these, Windows 7 would have been critically vulnerable to security risks, viruses, and any emerging threats.

Continued use of an unpatched Windows 7 will make you an easy target for cybercriminals since they would have all the time needed to perfect new malware to penetrate the OS. A clear example of this is the devastating impact brought about by the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack to over 300,000 unpatched Windows computers back in 2017.

#2. Compliance issues

Organizations in highly regulated industries like healthcare and eCommerce are required to follow and maintain a set of security standards since they deal with a lot of sensitive customer data. For example, all companies that accept, store, process, and transmit cardholder data are required to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

PCI DSS 6.2 states that “all system components and software must be protected from known vulnerabilities by installing applicable vendor-supplied security patches within one month of release.” So if you continue using Windows 7 after its EOL date, you will become non-compliant, which can result in big fines, court hearings, company shutdowns, and possible jail time.

#3. Software incompatibility

New applications are optimized for supported operating systems, so sticking with an unsupported Windows 7 means you’ll also be stuck with legacy applications.

Windows 7 EOL does not have to spell disaster

The potential risks of using Windows 7 beyond its 10-year support period outweigh the rewards. So even if you’re on a tight budget, start planning your OS upgrade. Partner with Red Key Solutions so we can help you smoothly transition to the latest Windows software and properly manage your technologies’ life cycles to maximize productivity and keep your bottom line healthy.

Red Key is a leading Managed IT firm that is bringing AI to companies in New York City, Westchester County, Fairfield County Connecticut, California & beyond.