If you're a PC user and you woke up this morning with an undefined fear, maybe you're subconsciously recalling that today is the day Microsoft stops offering free support for Windows 7.

It’s not quite the same as the panic attacks many people experienced last April when Microsoft announced the XP show was finally over. But today is still likely to create some discomfort for Windows 7 users who refuse to move forward. In fact, this is the beginning of the end.

Windows 7 Support

Every product has a lifecycle. Every Windows product has a five-year lifecycle, after which Microsoft no long offers free support. This means Microsoft no longer provides automatic fixes, updates or online technical assistance after the time is up.

It also means that it's a) time to upgrade and install whatever service pack is available, or, if you haven’t done this, b) start planning for a systems upgrade across your entire infrastructure. Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring this as many did with XP means exposing your infrastructure to viruses, spyware and information theft.

In the case of Windows 7, Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an important update that includes previously released security, performance and stability updates for Windows 7 and will carry you over to 2020. This should give you enough time to plan and budget for the inevitable upgrade because after April 2020, even with extended support, your infrastructure is a sitting duck.


Unless, or course, the same thing happens with Windows 7 that happened with XP. Last April, the road finally ran out for with both mainstream and extended support on XP. But as many as 25 percent of companies were still using it at that time, according to NetMarketShare at the time.

The result was a scramble to upgrade. Some companies went as far as paying Microsoft to continue support, which must have put a significant hole in their earnings for the year.

Here we are eight months later and believe it or not, according to the same source, XP is still being used by 18.26 percent of the market.

Given that Microsoft has washed its hands of XP and has said there is no guarantee that it will even patch vulnerabilities found in the OS, this seems like a pretty dangerous game to be playing.

2015_1_14 Windows 7 market share.jpgImage: NetMarketShare

Windows 7 Market

But back to today and Windows 7. It has exactly the same problem, except five years behind. At the moment it is the most widely used operating system on the plant with 56.26 percent of the market, some five times more prevalent than Windows 8.1 which Microsoft is force-feeding users at the moment.

This is not just a problem for Microsoft, but also for the wider Web community. For Microsoft, people using out-of-date operating systems means they can’t sell them some of their new software, which given the fact that Windows 10 will be out later this year limits their market for the new system.

For the wider community, it makes a whole lot of computers connected to the Web vulnerable to attack, which, in turn makes other users vulnerable.

This is not the time for panic - - that will come - - but the time for planning. The end of Windows 7 is in sight so get ready for it, or wait for ‘the fear’ to come back.

 Title image by Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licensegeezaweezer.