One year ago, Microsoft began the doomsday countdown for Windows 7, promising to end support for the stubbornly popular operating system. Today, that clock hit zero, leaving millions of Windows 7 holdouts vulnerable to future security risks.
End of support doesn’t mean Windows 7 will suddenly disappear. But Microsoft will no longer ship security or quality updates for the operating system, nor will it provide technical support.
Businesses and educators using Windows 7 can get additional security updates, but it will cost them. Microsoft is charging $25 per machine for these updates, and that cost will double several times over the next few years.
Introduced in 2009, after its predecessor Windows Vista flopped, Windows 7 still has a huge user base. According to NetMarketShare, nearly a third of PCs ran Windows 7 as of December, more than a decade after its release.
Bend, Ore. enterprise content delivery company Kollective held a “funeral” for Windows 7 Tuesday, speaking to the impact the operating system had across the tech industry.
On a more serious note, the company also issued a report on the impact of the end of Windows 7 support on businesses. The report found that 40 percent of U.S. businesses and 66 percent of U.K. companies still have devices running Windows 7. These companies will have a decision to make: Keep running Windows 7 and pay for extra security updates, run the operating system without extra security and face heightened risk, or undertake the process of updating to Windows 10.
Kollective estimates that a company with 10,000 Windows 7 machines could be on the hook for up to $1.4 million in annual payments to Microsoft for security updates.
“It took many businesses up to three years to move from XP to Windows 7 and we can expect a similar timeline for the move to Windows 10″ said Jon O’Connor, solution architect at Kollective. “While a lot of companies have migrated the majority of their systems away from Windows 7, being “almost there” isn’t good enough.”
It took Microsoft’s current operating system, Windows 10, more than three years to pass Windows 7 in market share. As part of the end of support for Windows 7, Microsoft is urging users to upgrade to Windows 10, a move that for some will require a new machine. That has helped juice PC sales to the first year of growth since 2011.