MICROSOFT IS sitting on a Windows timebomb, and the fuse is lit.
In six months' time, on 14 January 2020, Windows 7 will reach its natural End of Life (EoL), meaning no more security updates and the whole circus of panic that goes with it.
It'll have had a damn good innings, nine-and-a-half years in fact, but the tiresome truth is that a lot of customers still aren't confident enough in Windows 10 for an upgrade, or their machine isn't capable of running it, thanks to Microsoft's draconian rules about what chipsets it supports.
The free upgrade offer that let Windows 7 and 8.1 users update to Windows 10 for nowt was supposed to stop this exact thing happening, but uptake was finite, and even now, three years on, a whopping 35.38 per cent of users are still running Windows 7 (Windows 8.x is another 5.2 per cent).
In fact, totting up all versions of Windows, there are almost as many users not running Windows 10 as running it. More worrying is that figure has hardly shifted from last month - Windows 7 has lost 0.06 per cent market share.
Year on year, it's only dropped about six per cent. At that rate, we'd still be faffing about with this issue in the mid-2020s.
The bulk will be organisations who haven't yet made the leap with their networks. This could be because of money, the need to run bespoke apps that don't play nicely on Windows 7, and yes, in some cases it could be ignorance.
The fact remains, though; that's a lot of machines that aren't on a version of Windows with a future. The last remaining version to be supported beyond January 2020 will be Windows 8.1 (if you're running Windows 8 you can, nay should update to Windows 8.1 for free, from the Microsoft Store, as soon as possible - that's been EoL for ages).
Organisations who really can't be ready in time can apply for extended support for up to three years, but its charged per seat, which, in a big organisation could be thousands of machines. Oh yeah, and that price per seat doubles every year.
If you're an individual using Windows 7, you've got no options - this date has, after all, been in the calendar for years and Microsoft won't make any money out of your complaining - buy a copy of Windows 10 by 14 January, or you're screwed.
The fact that it's only a few years ago that there was all the kerfuffle with Windows XP's EoL, which, lest we forget carried on for years including a spectacular fail during the Wannacry ransomware incident, you'd hope that Microsoft would be better arming its users for what is to come.
Alas, however, it seems that if you're not running a network of Windows 7 machine, Microsoft isn't that fussed about telling you what you need to do. That said - it's all fun and games ‘till the nag screens start. And they will.
On the plus side, we'll get to say 'we told you so' and we know you know how much we love doing that. μ
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