Windows 7 has now entered its End of Life phase, which means that Microsoft will no longer be offering updates of security fixes for the old operating system.
While many people will have upgraded to Windows 10 years ago, there are still millions of PCs out there that are using Windows 7. With Windows 7 now at its End of Life, it means those PCs need to be upgraded or replaced ASAP.
Even if you ditched Windows 7 years ago, you could still be affected by the Windows 7 End of Life. Any company that holds your data, such as doctor’s surgeries, for example, and still use Windows 7 could be putting your privacy at risk if they don’t upgrade.
Windows 7 entered its End of Life today, Tuesday, January 14, 2020. Microsoft will no longer offer patches and security updates for Windows 7.
That means that any bugs or problems still found in Windows 7 will never get fixed. Likewise, any security vulnerabilities could also remain in Windows 7, as Microsoft is unlikely to patch those unless they are very severe.
After today, January 14, 2020, you’ll effectively be using a dead operating system. While your PC will continue to work, you’ll be stuck with an operating system that no longer gets patched. If someone finds a nasty bug or security vulnerability in Windows 7, they could easily take advantage of it, putting you at risk.
It also means new software will likely not work on Windows 7 PCs, which means you’re missing out on new features. Again, if there are bugs and security vulnerabilities in Windows 7 versions of the programs and applications you use, these may never get fixed.
Windows 7 isn’t the only Microsoft product reaching end of life on that date. Four server products are also reaching end of life on January 14. These products are:
Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 R2
Exchange Server 2010
Small Business Server (SBS) 2011
While these products will be reaching their end of life very soon, there is another end of support date on the horizon in 2020. Microsoft Office 2010 will reach its end of life on October 13, 2020.
Consequences of End of Life
End of life is a big deal, at least from a security standpoint. When software manufacturers announce end of life dates, the clock begins ticking for businesses using the software in question. Because end of life means no further security updates, businesses using outdated software can experience:
New threats from hackers
Hackers don’t care if you’re a multi-million-dollar corporation or a mom-and-pop storefront. Once a piece of software is no longer supported, hackers will try to exploit its lack of updated security wherever they find it.
Loss of hardware compatibility
Hardware and software improvements often happen in tandem. Newer hardware may have difficulty using older software, and this incompatibility can affect productivity.
Increased software-related issues
Obviously, once a software manufacturer ceases support for a product, problems that arise with the continued use of that product will not be corrected. The further away you get from the end-of-life date, the greater likelihood you’ll experience issues.
Updated software typically comes with new and/or improved features. As the rest of the world begins using the newest version, you’re likely to find your outdated software can’t keep up.
Is Your Business at Risk?
Using a piece of software no longer supported by the manufacturer is, at best, a risky proposition. Cybersecurity company Kaspersky estimates that nearly half of small and midsize businesses use software that is no longer supported. This news is alarming, given that in 2017 a major ransomware attack took down vulnerable, unsupported operating systems worldwide.
Bottom line: don’t ignore end of life dates. If you are using software that has reached its end of life, it’s only a matter of time before your business gets snared in a ransomware web. While you can still operate your business past the end of life date for any of these products, please consider your options as soon as it is feasible.
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