Windows 7, the last operating system to truly embody Microsoft’s original Windows design, has seen four (if you count Windows 8.1) successors since its release in 2009. Despite its age, several businesses still use the operating system — though they may want to switch to something else when Microsoft drops support for Windows 7’s enhanced security.
The Microsoft Extended Security Update (ESU) program is—er, was—the “last resort” for Windows 7 users who needed to continue using the operating system beyond its support period. For up to three years after Windows 7 end of service on January 14, 2020, ESU will release critical security updates aimed at keeping legacy products alive for as long as possible. But that three-year grace period is over, and it’s time for Microsoft to pull the plug.
Starting today, Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise editions will stop receiving extended security updates. Windows recommends that those using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 7 PC upgrade their operating system to Windows 10, as most Windows 7 PCs will not have the appropriate hardware for Windows 11. For those who either cannot upgrade to Windows 10 or would like to prefer not to use this edition, Microsoft’s solution is simple: Just buy a new computer.
Microsoft presents Windows 7 at Gamescom 2009. (Image: Raimond Spekking/Wikimedia Commons)
“To maintain the reliability and stability of Microsoft 365, we strongly recommend that you take advantage of the latest hardware options by switching to a new Windows 11 PC,” Microsoft said in a blog post. “Computers have changed a lot since Windows 7 was first released ten years ago. Today’s PCs are faster, more powerful and sleeker – plus they come with Windows 11 already installed.”
Web browsers such as Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are also preparing to end support for Windows 7. On January 12, Microsoft will release Microsoft Edge 109, the last version of the browser that will work on Windows 7. The 110th version of Google Chrome, which is scheduled for release in will also end support for the OS in February.
Windows 8.1, which was launched in October 2013, also reached its end today. It’s unclear whether Microsoft plans to offer the ESU program for Windows 8.1 like it did for Windows 7, but given the much lower adoption rate of Windows 8.1, it’s unlikely.