A high-ranking Microsoft Deutschland employee has stirred up a fair bit of conversation with the publication of a recent blog post recommending users switch away from Windows 7.
Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft’s German arm, said in a blog on the official Windows Deutschland website that Windows 7 ‘can no longer keep up with the increased security requirements’ needed of a modern operating system.
‘It does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments,’ said Nitschke in an interview published on Microsoft TechNet, which we ran through an online translator.
Nitschke also confirmed that support for Windows 7 will be ending at the 10-year mark of its lifespan. That’s in three years time. Not too surprising seeing as basic support for Windows 7 ended two years ago. ‘Since then users still receive all the important security updates, but no new functionality,’ said Nitschke. ‘Windows 7 was developed for the wireless world of the late 2000s.’
‘Windows 7 is based on long-outdated security architectures,’ Nitschke continued. He warned that, three years before the complete end of support, corporate users should start setting aside time to make the transition to a newer operating system. In three years’ time when support expires he warns that, ‘companies and users who trust Windows 7 with their sensitive data are faced with enormous dangers’.
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It’s easy to forget that Windows 7 is actually not just once, or twice, but three-times dated as a Microsoft OS. Windows 10 is the latest version. However, there was also the far less popular Windows 8.1 and disastrous Windows 8 before that. It may feel like this warning has come out of nowhere. But, after seven years, Windows 7 just isn’t all that new any more.
With the technological landscape moving faster than ever, companies are evolving their products at an unprecedented pace. This means it’s only natural that hacks and cyber attacks will advance along with them. Shorter product cycles mean more people potentially getting left behind. More people getting left behind means greater scope for viruses, malware and more.
Three years may sound like a long way off, but it’s important to bear in mind that that is the absolute final point at which anybody with a computer should be using Windows 7 from a security perspective. Naturally Microsoft recommends you upgrading before then while there’s still no rush or imminent threat. Considering how poorly received the end of support for Windows XP was, it’s certainly an understandable approach. After all, Windows XP was more than 13 years old when support ceased for good.
Should you upgrade?
It’s easy to look at this announcement through a cynical lens. Microsoft is of course running a business, and it’s also adopted some controversial tactics to get people to switch over to Windows 10, whether they wanted to or not. Since the end of the free download period Windows 10 installations have plateaued, and obviously Microsoft won’t be happy until 100% of PCs are running it.
However, it would be churlish to dismiss this as a money-making tactic. Nitschke’s quotes above are damning, and when you consider the position of the person they’re coming from, they clearly weren’t spoken lightly. This isn’t a matter of having access to some new gimmick, or making your computer run faster. This is a matter of security on a top-to-bottom level. Perhaps companies and business users should be more concerned than others. However, for the average user at home you should heed Microsoft’s warning.
Do you have to rush home and download your copy of Windows 10 right now? No, but that doesn’t mean you should just forget all about it, either. Earlier this month Windows 10 surpassed Windows 7 in terms of market share for the first time in its 18 months of existence. Windows 7 will start to see less and less attention from Microsoft until total support ends in 2020. We believe that Windows 10 is already an equal, if not superior, OS in almost every respect.
Should you buy a new computer?
The cost is certainly something to consider – £100 is a substantial fee. If your computer or laptop is already starting to creak a little it may be worth waiting a year or so and then simply replacing your machine with a new Windows 10 model. If you would be purchasing a new one anyway it would be silly to buy a copy of Windows 10 right now.
Windows 7 is still a solid, functional OS. However, while you may not have to upgrade right now, there’s certainly no real reason not to either. It will be for the best eventually.
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