Microsoft made a vow to provide ten years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. This ten-year period has now ended, and Microsoft has discontinued Windows 7 support so that we can focus our savings on supporting newer technologies and great fresh experiences.

The particular end of support day for Windows 7 was January 14, 2020.

Technical support and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC are no longer accessible for the product. Microsoft strongly suggests that you move to Windows 10 to avoid a condition where you require service or support that is no longer existed.

What really means end of support?

The phrase ‘end of support,’ whether desktop or server operating system, means that no more safety patches or updates are going to be released by the operating system provider. January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release security updates for Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2008, and Windows 7 OS. As your devices will be accessing the internet (for things such as email, remote access, and VPNs, etc.), this may expose you to safety attacks or compliance risks with industry regulations such as GDPR.

Each business is different, and there are many things to consider when migrating from Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008. If you are running any servers with these operating systems, we recommend that you contact to organize a free consultation to discuss your requirements.

It is amazing that Windows 7 is reaching the end of support on January 14, 2020 while keeping up something forthcoming 27% market share among Windows users, as per Statcounter. This is down from 35% in December 2018 but still significant. Windows has a share amongst desktop users of approximately 77%, so that is around 20% of active desktop PCs.

“End of support” means no technical assistance, software updates, or safety fixes from Microsoft. Of these, the important part is security fixes. Without usual patches, flaws that are discovered in the operating system will put users at greater risk from things like ransomware attacks, maybe triggered by an email attachment or wicked web link.

That means no more safety updates?

Windows Server 2008, as well as 2008 R2, also go out of support on the same day. Though it is less likely that users will be browsing the web or clicking attachments on Server 2008, it is still dangerous if these servers are exposed to the internet – as appears to be the case with Travelex, at present suffering a ransomware attack – or if they are used for distant desktop services.

To be apparent: Windows 7 and Server 2008 will get security patches, if required, on January 14 as common for Patch Tuesday; it’s after that date that things will be not the same. One more inquisitive aspect of this “end of support” is that Microsoft will still be providing safety updates for both operating systems, for 3 further years. So the actual end of support date is in 2023. That said, you can only obtain these “extended security updates”, or ESU, in certain ways:

  • Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) users obtain free ESU until January 2023
  • You can buy Windows 7 ESU by subscription from Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers, which means the majority of IT support companies signed up as authorized Microsoft providers.
  • Windows 7 ESU is free of charge for a year to users who subscribe to Windows E5 or Microsoft 365 E5.
  • ESU covers only Windows 7 Professional plus Enterprise.
  • Windows 7 embedded can be maintained through an “Ecosystem Partner Offering” support contract.
  • The situation for Windows Server 2008 ESU is similar to that for Windows 7.

If you study the FAQ for Windows 7 ESU and the documentation for Server 2008 and 2008 R2, it is clear that this works through the regular Windows update mechanisms – including Windows Server Update Services [WSUS], broadly used in businesses – but that after January 14th, the update service will seek an ESU activation key, which must be renewed every year. On Azure or WVD, the activation key seems not to be essential.

It would, therefore, be just as correct to state that Microsoft is blocking safety updates for Windows 7 as well as Server 2008 after January 14th for most users, as that it is enabling them to choose customers.

Though it is not difficult for Microsoft to end updating a decade-old iteration of Windows, there is no suspicion that the company is also utilizing this as a marketing prospect. A booklet on “Preparing for Windows Server end of support” turns out to be generally marketing for Azure rather than technical assistance. “Take the opportunity to transform,” it says. Ahem.

Why are so many old editions of Windows still in use?

Windows 7 is a unique case since it is the last of its line before the confusion that was Windows 8. Even in Windows 10 today, you can allot variation between Microsoft’s old and latest approaches to the operating system. Windows 7 is, in some ways, more rational, despite its age.

The realism in business, though, is more to do with inactivity and application compatibility. Users who splurge most of their time in, say, Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, and several custom internal applications may get the advantages of upgrading to Windows 10 tough to see, while the cost of change is considerable.

What about the price of not advancing? Security professional Graham Cluley said The Register that the risk is very easy to understand. If you continue to run Windows 7 in your organization after next week you are putting your company, its staff, and data at danger because there simply won’t be any more safety patches made available … of course, many folks *will* continue to use Windows 7, presenting chances galore for criminals to take benefit of poorly secured systems.

There is a level of artificiality about this key “end of support” date and methods to keep old stuff patched, but the security risks are genuine.