Windows 7 and 8.1 systems no longer receive security updates – millions of computers become “time bombs”. And Windows 10 support will end soon.
Windows 8.1 computers are now also obsolete: “Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or technical support for Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023,” says the Microsoft website. Some users can upgrade their devices to a newer version of Windows, but most of these devices do not meet the hardware requirements for such a step.
There is no support as of today, even for computers still running the old Windows 7. So far, companies and authorities have been able to purchase a grace period for Windows 7 and extend security updates – now that’s over.
Windows 7 still runs on every tenth computer
However, many users still cling to their old, risky systems: Old Windows 7 was still running on one in ten Windows computers worldwide in December, according to figures from the statistics portal Statcounter. Things look a little better in Germany – but there are calculations in this country, too. Security software company ESET still has 1.7 million dedicated computers running Windows 7.
Along with other operating systems, Windows 8 and XP, which are no longer supported, there are about three million unsecured devices used in Germany’s private homes.
Just surfing the web can be dangerous
Christian Lueg, an IT specialist at security software company ESET, warns in an interview with ZDFheute that this could have deadly consequences for computer users: Legacy operating systems without security updates are “time bombs”. Many users underestimated the risk – just surfing the web can be dangerous:
Internet banking and even logging into a website with a password becomes an incalculable risk.
In 2021 Microsoft had almost 1,300 vulnerabilities
The problem: new vulnerabilities are constantly being found in operating systems and software. The Microsoft security report for 2021 alone shows about 1,300 vulnerabilities in products. In legacy systems, these vulnerabilities are no longer documented and never closed. Criminals like to take advantage of this – news about such vulnerabilities spreads quickly on hacker forums, explains Lueg.
It’s not just private computers being compromised: According to Lueg, hackers exploit such unclosed vulnerabilities more often, entire multi-storey car parks have already been manipulated so that barriers no longer open and close. “Hospitals are also paralyzed that way, and that can be life-threatening later on.”
Windows 10 will also reach end of support soon
It can be annoying and sometimes expensive: IT security experts recommend using only existing operating systems that are constantly updated. The same applies to software – it’s best to enable the auto-update function whenever possible.
And sometimes the end of support for systems comes sooner than you think. Microsoft announced at the end of December that there should be no more security updates for Windows 10 in the fall of 2025. Systems that meet the appropriate hardware requirements can be upgraded to Windows 11 at no cost.
I’m Ashley Robinson, a professional writer and journalist. I specialize in news writing and have been working for the past five years with News Unrolled. My main focus is on technology-related topics, though I also write about politics, healthcare, and business from time to time.