Just barely over two weeks ago, Microsoft discontinued support for the Windows 7 operating system. For those still using devices running the ten-year-old operating system (time flies, doesn’t it?), this means Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, critical patches to vulnerabilities, or fixes for potential bugs.
For some businesses, this isn’t as much of a problem. That’s because the company is offering Extended Security Updates for enterprises that can’t feasibly upgrade their large-scale computer networks to a newer operating system without critical risks. Consumers and some smaller-sized businesses, on the other hand, will need to fend for themselves.
Luckily, many anti-malware companies have committed to providing continued support for customers still running Windows 7 (via ZDNet). Companies such as BitDefender, NortonLifeLock, and many other have committed to providing updates for the next two years at the very least, according to German antivirus testing lab AV-TEST. Even McAfee will continue providing support until at least December 2021.
The continued support from anti-malware companies is important given Windows 7’s continued strong marketshare, which still greatly surpasses that of the still-supported Windows 8.1 operating system according to StatCounter.
Of course, even with continued anti-malware support from big-name companies, that still doesn’t make the older machines nearly as secure if they were running a newer version of desktop OS, such as Windows 10. Those vulnerabilities will remain there going forward, and new exploits are discovered all the time. That’s why Microsoft still advices users to switch to a newer OS with more modern features and continued security patches.
Still, for those who find that upgrading is much easier said than done, using anti-malware applications is still far better than leaving a machine completely exposed.