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Microsoft has a problem, Windows 7 is too popular

Windows 7

A new report from NetMarketShare reveals that Windows 7 remains the second most-used desktop operating system. This more than decade-old OS retains more than 25% market share, coming in at 26.64% usage across the PC space. That insane 1-in-4 metric means that despite Windows 10 having been around for five years, it still has a major problem with adoption.

Microsoft has tried desperately to attain feature parity by pushing Windows 10 in every conceivable way. They learned from some of the mistakes of Vista and Windows 8, returning to a more user-friendly design for one thing. The push for Windows 10 and gaming has also helped them reach more adoption among hardcore gamers. But it’s pretty clear that some people are just stubborn.

Tomorrow will see the final round of normal patches for the operating system from 2009, for normal users. And with that, comes a major risk to both these users sticking to Windows 7, and the infrastructure of many businesses hanging on too.

But it’s not all bad news. Earlier in December, Microsoft had said that MSE would also stop receiving any updates after this deadline. However, the company has now confirmed that the default anti-virus program for Windows 7 would continue to receive some updates. The software itself will no longer be updated though, so bugs and crashes might be more common. Although definition updates will be coming for the foreseeable future to help protect users.

Earlier, the Windows maker had said: “This product [MSE] is unique to Windows 7 and follows the same lifecycle dates for support.” ComputerWorld’s Woody Leonhard asked about this during a recent AMA, and got a more up-to-date response. It turns out that the company has reversed course a bit, and will continue to offer support. According to one engineer, “MSE will continue to receive signature updates after Jan. 14.”

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So while Windows 7 still nears it’s end of support officially, there’s some reprieve for those that wish to hang on. Microsoft has other options for Enterprise users and those with special use cases. One area of common concern with these older devices and software is security after all, so Microsoft wouldn’t totally abandon them, especially if they can make money. Government partners are a common source for this. Microsoft even announced a special exception for the US government and other partners in 2020 that would allow election machines running Windows 7 to still receive critical patches.

If you’re a company looking to grab extended support, it will be very costly though. The extended support program for enterprises costs between $25 to $50 per device per year, and the cost doubles each year. Given the number of devices out there still running the aging software, you can bet cybercriminals will be pushing exploits like never before starting tomorrow.

To help stave off the problem though, Microsoft has extended it’s free Windows 10 upgrade to all users with valid software keys for Windows versions other than 10. You can download and install Windows 10 for free right now. And if you don’t prepare for the upcoming nag screens.

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