Since its debut in 2009, Windows 7, the final operating system to completely embody Microsoft’s original Windows design, has seen four (if you consider Windows 8.1) successors. Despite its age, a few businesses continue to utilize the operating system—though they may wish to switch now that Microsoft is discontinuing Extended Security support for Windows 7.
Microsoft’s Extended Security Update (ESU) program is—or was—a “last resort option” for Windows 7 users who needed to keep using the operating system after its support period expired. ESU would offer crucial security updates for up to three years after Windows 7’s end-of-life date of January 14, 2020, in order to maintain legacy products on life support for as long as practicable. But that three-year grace period has ended, and it’s time that Microsoft pulls the plug.
Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise editions will no longer receive extended security updates as of today. Windows recommends that those who use Microsoft 365 on a Windows 7 computer update to Windows 10, as most Windows 7 PCs lack the necessary hardware for Windows 11. For individuals who are unable to upgrade to Windows 10 or prefer not to use that edition, Microsoft’s solution is straightforward: simply purchase a new machine.
“To maintain the reliability and stability of Microsoft 365, we strongly recommend you take advantage of the latest hardware capabilities by moving to a new PC with Windows 11,” Microsoft’s blog post reads. “PCs have changed substantially since Windows 7 was first released ten years ago. Today’s computers are faster, more powerful, and sleeker—plus they come with Windows 11 already installed.”
Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are both planning to discontinue support for Windows 7. Microsoft Edge 109, the last version of the browser compatible with Windows 7, will be released on January 12. Google Chrome’s 110th edition, due out in February, will similarly abandon support for the OS.
Windows 8.1, which was released in October 2013, is likewise no longer supported. It’s unclear whether Microsoft intends to offer an ESU program for Windows 8.1, as it did for Windows 7, but given the lower usage rate of Windows 8.1, it’s unlikely.