How Windows 7’s “Extended Security Updates” Will Work

A sepia-toned Windows 7 desktop background logo.

Windows 7 isn’t long for this world. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft ends “extended support” for Windows 7, and it will stop getting security updates. But there’s a way around it: Paying for “Extended Security Updates.”

Normal Security Updates End on January 14, 2020

First released on October 22, 2009, Windows 10 is nearing its tenth anniversary. On January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will leave “extended support.” Microsoft will stop issuing routine security updates, and software developers will eventually stop supporting it with recent versions of their software. New hardware may not function on Windows 7 if hardware manufacturers don’t do the work to support it specifically.

Basically, it’s Windows XP all over again. Windows 7 might have more staying power, but it’ll gradually get left behind by software and hardware developers. More security holes will be found in it—many of the same flaws found in Windows 10 affect Windows 7—and Microsoft won’t patch them. This old operating system will become less secure. Microsoft has been warning people about this for years, and now the date is nearly upon us.

RELATED: How to Avoid Windows 7’s End-of-Support Nags

Microsoft May Issue Some Free Security Updates

Windows 7 support end date nag message on the desktop.

If Windows XP has taught us anything, it’s that Microsoft may release some security updates for Windows 7 to everyone anyway.

Even in 2019, five years after support expired, Microsoft took the rare step of issuing a security update for Windows XP. The Windows Update pipeline for XP had been apparently long been shut down, so Windows XP users have to download and install this update manually—but it was available.

Still, Microsoft hasn’t patched all the security holes for Windows XP. The company won’t patch them all for Windows 7, either. Particularly bad holes—like the Windows XP flaw that could enable a worm to spread across the internet by infecting those old Windows XP machines—may be patched. But don’t rely on getting security updates for most flaws Microsoft patches in other versions of Windows.

Organizations Can Get Extended Security Updates

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