In a little over a week, Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 with security updates. For its part, Google will keep updating Chrome on the over decade-old OS for another 18 months.
Google Cloud’s advice to enterprise is to transition to Windows 10. For those that haven’t, it will “continue to fully support Chrome on Windows 7 for a minimum of 18 months from Microsoft’s End of Life date, until at least July 15, 2021.”
So if you haven’t started your move to Windows 10 yet, or even if your organization is midway through migration, you can still benefit from the enterprise capabilities of Chrome.
During this period, Chrome will benefit from built-in security capabilities like Safe Browsing, Site Isolation, and last month’s password and phishing protections. Chrome Windows 7 support presumably also extends to new user-facing features.
Security updates and technical assistance from Microsoft will stop on January 14, 2020, with the OS vendor warning how “your PC will still work, but it may become more vulnerable to security risks.” Chrome’s extended move comes as Internet Explore on Windows 7 will also be discontinued next week.
Enterprises still running Windows can pay for extended support through 2023, while dates vary for embedded variants.
According to Statcounter, Windows 7 usage as of last month was at 26.79% versus 65.4% for Windows 10. The last set of major OS deprecations from Google was in April 2016 when Chrome stopped supporting Windows XP, Vista, and some older versions of macOS.
Deadlines are scary. I know. And Microsoft has thrown Windows 7 users a big one: Update to a more modern operating system by January 15, 2020, or you’ll never receive security updates ever again. Eventually, Microsoft will even start disabling key Windows 7 services—like Internet Backgammon and Internet Checkers—throughout the year.
I’m being a little lighthearted about this, but Microsoft’s abandonment of Windows 7 is a cause of concern for many. Lifehacker reader Douglas recently wrote in with this question:
“I was reading your writeup regarding Windows 7 and I really cannot afford to upgrade at this exact moment. Is it catastrophic if I don’t upgrade now? Thanks in advance for your help”
Catastrophic? No. If you’re still clinging to Windows 7, odds are good that you’re using it to address simple handful of simpler needs—sending email, browsing the web, etc. That, or perhaps you have a few specific applications that don’t work with future versions of Windows, or you might even be running Windows 7 on old hardware that can’t handle the upgrade for whatever reason (speed or available space).
Windows 7 will keep working come January 15. However, now that Microsoft won’t be releasing any more security updates for the operating system, it’s true that Windows 7 will be more vulnerable to attack. No question there.
However, I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that you’ll be able to mitigate most issues with some good common sense. In Lifehacker terms, that means thinking hard about your cyber-security setup at home and doing everything you can to ensure that software doesn’t get on your machine that can take advantage of any vulnerabilities that will not be patched going forward.
Were I still using Windows 7, I’d go the nuclear option. I’d install some variant of Linux on my system and run Windows 7 in a virtual machine, thereby giving me a fresh, updated system to work with for everyday activities, and access to Windows 7 for any super-specific apps or services I need to use. It’s not a tricky process, but it’s possible that setting up this kind of a configuration might be over the heads of many people still using Windows 7. That, or your system is too underpowered to run a VM. (I’ll likely write a guide for this next week, so stay tuned!)
here are hundreds of millions of PCs still running Windows 7, and while usage will decline now that Microsoft is no longer pushing out free security updates to its legacy OS, it won't plummet over night. If you are one of the holdouts, here's a bit of good news—many antivirus companies have committed to pushing out virus definition updates for at least another two years.
It's a welcome decision by AV firms who have chosen to continue supporting Windows 7 indefinitely, given how many Windows 7 PCs there are in the wild. It's also not all that surprising. After all, even Microsoft has stated it will still push out definition updates for Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) on Windows 7 systems, though the built-in AV software program itself will never again be updated.