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Is Running Windows 7 Really That Big of a Deal?

October 04, 2017 in Office 365 and Windows
  • Only use Windows 7 if your critical business applications and hardware are not compatible with Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 is far more secure than Windows 7 because of its ability to prevent zero-day exploits.
  • Though patches and security updates are still being released for Windows 7, it takes time to discover security flaws. The time before security updates are released is when security is in jeopardy.

No, You Don't Really Have To Worry About Running Windows 7- For Now

Windows 7 is in extended support from Microsoft. Mainstream support ended in 2015 for Windows 7, which means no new feature updates or service packs are forthcoming for Windows 7.

Extended support for Windows 7 will continue through January 14, 2020, meaning security updates and patches will be continually released for Windows 7. After that date, no security updates and patches will be forthcoming.

You should only run Windows 7 if you use hardware and programs that are not supported by Windows 10.

Unless you have older hardware with unsupported drivers in Windows 10, or your LOB (line of business) apps will not run in Windows 10, you should plan to move any remaining Windows 7 computers to Windows 10 well before January 2020.

Security is the prime reason to upgrade to Windows 10. While security patches and updates will be developed for Windows 7 for the next two plus years, threats have evolved in ways that were never anticipated during the development of Windows 7.

Windows 10 is Much More Secure than Windows 7 

At its core, Windows 10 is more secure.

Windows 10 was designed with a more secure “core” that can prevent new and zero day exploits from wreaking havoc on your PC and network.  This core security is improved with each new release of Windows 10.  Microsoft included Windows 10 and Edge exploit-mitigation features such as AppContainer sandboxing (restricting apps in a controlled environment), and stronger validation in the Anniversary Update- released in August 2016. Security testing showed this specific update is so effective in preventing exploits that computers without the update were exposed to two zero-day exploits. Machines with the Anniversary update were protected. 

The improved security at the operating system level does not remove the need for additional security protections such as firewalls, antivirus/antimalware, and most importantly, user awareness of suspicious websites, email links, email attachments, and more. But this does show a significant weakness in running Windows 7; Microsoft did not release a patch for the two vulnerabilities until November 2016, resulting in a longer period of vulnerability to these two exploits.

If you need to stay with Windows 7 due to the aforementioned reasons and are considering purchasing new computers, be aware that the latest generation of processors from Intel, AMD, and Nvidia do not work with Windows 7 Windows Update, preventing even new Windows 7 computers from receiving any updates for Windows 7.

This hardware limitation will block a Windows 7 computer from searching for updates from Windows Update. This limitation of Intel and AMD 7th generation processors applies to Windows 8.1 as well as Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2. So, if you are planning on upgrading your hardware and continue running Windows 7, speak to your IT provider about which processors will allow you to continue receiving updates on Windows 7 until the January 2020 end of support date.

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In an age of constant attacks, phishing, and other threats, updating computers running older Windows operating systems to Windows 10 may be one of the most efficient ways to increase your level of protection from a seemingly endless onslaught of threats.

Jay Poules

Jay Poules

Jay has lived in Colorful Colorado most of his life, having come to Denver while in the U. S. Air Force and falling in love with the climate and outdoor opportunities. After his four years of service with the Air Force, he returned to Colorado and has worked with several IT companies before joining LIVE Consulting. He lives with his wife and two Australian Shepherd mutts in Castle Rock. Passions include photography, hiking, camping, just being outdoors and enjoying his wife’s musical talents – she is an oboe player with the Parker Symphony Orchestra and the Denver Concert Band, as well as a private teacher for piano and oboe.