Millions of PCs will stop receiving security updates from tomorrow as Microsoft ends support for its Windows 7 operating system.
PCs running Windows 7 will still function but Microsoft will no longer provide technical support, software updates or security fixes.
The technology giant will use full-screen pop-up notifications on devices running the decade old system to try to convince users to switch to the newer Windows 10.
With a market share of more than 25 per cent, Windows 7 is still the second most used operating system after Windows 10 which has 55 per cent of the market.
Microsoft is pulling the plug on Windows 7 and thinks users should consider a new PC if they don’t want to lose out on security and software updates
The notification will even go as far as advising customers to buy a new PC in order to be able to use Windows 10 preoperly.
The company has been providing smaller pop-up reminders of the upcoming change since April 2019 but they will now be full-screen and impossible to ignore.
The notification will remain on screen until users interact with it, giving them the option to ‘learn more’ or instead respond with ‘remind me later’ or ‘don’t remind me again’.
GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has told the public not to access banking, emails or other services containing sensitive information from devices on Windows 7 due to the high risk.
‘We would urge those using the software after the deadline to replace unsupported devices as soon as possible, to move sensitive data to a supported device, and not to use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts.
A spokesman for the security centre said users of older versions of Windows should also considering emailing from a different device.
End of support is a long-running measure by Microsoft, as it shifts from dated technologies and increases focus on newer ones.
‘Without Microsoft support for your PC is like driving without car insurance’. said Jake Moore, Cyber Security Specialist from ESET.
‘You can still use the machine, but you’ll be in a sticky situation should anything happen’.
Microsoft introduced a smart assistant, similar to Siri, called Cortana to Windows 10
The warning against continuing to use Windows 7 will appear on Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate editions.
It will not appear on domain-joined PCs or PCs in kiosk mode.
‘While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware,’ Microsoft explains in a blog post.
‘Sticking with Windows 7 after support ends opens a door to issues like computer viruses and you’ll no longer receive technical support from Microsoft.’
‘Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10.’
Windows 7 will be pretty much obsolete from January 15 2020
Windows 7 split opinion on Twitter
Big and small businesses alike will have to spend effort and money to transfer to Windows 10 if they haven’t already
In preparation for the update, it recommends users back up their files, get tips on Windows 10 and ‘check out the latest PCs’.
The legendary OS introduced features to Windows users including pin folders to the taskbar, close thumbnail preview, battery notification messages, desktop slideshow and the ‘devices and printers’ interface.
Windows 7 was still being used by 26.64 per cent of Windows fans as recently as this November, according to NetMarketShare, with 54.62 per cent on Windows 10.
Microsoft is also withdrawing support for WhatsApp on its only Mobile OS on Tuesday.
It has already been advising Windows Phone users to ‘get an Android or iPhone’ instead due to the lack of app support of Windows 10 Mobile.
‘Windows 10 is still not enough on its own to fully protect your data and finances from the risks’, said Mr Moore.
‘A good antivirus is still required and complex unique passwords are also a must with any online accounts to help mitigate the risk of a cyberattack.
‘Cast your minds back to the WannaCry disaster which affected the NHS and you’ll remember the destruction that can occur from not having a patched, up-to-date operating system.’
Companies which may not be ready for the move can choose to pay Microsoft for extended security updates through to January 2023.
It is sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year, to encourage businesses to upgrade.
WHY DID MICROSOFT DISCONTINUE ITS WINDOWS PHONES?
Microsoft started gutting its phone business in 2016, making thousands of job cuts and the decision to drop the company’s mantra ‘mobile-first, cloud-first’.
One key problem for the company was the lack of apps on the mobile platform.
In April, Facebook deserted Windows Phones. Skype and WhatsApp had also withdrawn their services from phones run on Windows.
The operating system dipped to a 0.3 per cent of the market share by the end of Microsoft’s third financial quarter in 2016.
Critics have claimed that the apps available on Windows phones pale in comparison to their iOS and Android counterparts.
In June 2019, it emerged that Microsoft advised Windows 10 Mobile users to switch to Android or iPhone.