Is Microsoft Killing off Windows 7 Early?

By RMON Networks | July 26, 2018

In the fast-moving world of tech, any software more than a few years old is usually consigned to the scrapheap of obsolescence. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts at replacing its aging Windows 7 operating system, the OS continues to enjoy massive popularity among business users.

Although the company has pushed Microsoft 10 aggressively since its initial launch in 2015, using everything from scare tactics and exciting new features like Cortana to malware-like prompts that tricked users into upgrading their systems, it was only in January 2018 that Windows 10 surpassed its predecessor in terms of global adoption. Windows 7 still holds its desktop dominance in Asia and Africa, and it even gained market share across March and April of this year.

After failing to reach its goal of 1 billion Windows 10 users by July 2018, it seems as if Microsoft has tried another approach—starving their legacy systems of critical tech support. While Microsoft’s own extended support policy dictates it should continue to offer bug fixes and patches for Windows 7 until January 2020, recent developments cast doubts over this commitment.

The SSE 2 Issue

Microsoft’s software support has always been applicable to all CPU platforms running Windows operating systems. However, back in early 2016 Windows announced newer generations of Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm processors would only enjoy official support if they ran Windows 10. Users running the latest generation of Intel processors at the time of the announcement were further informed they would need to update their systems within 18 months or risk missing out on all but the most critical security patches.

While Microsoft revoked part of the latter threat after considerable uproar from commercial users, the company’s strategy change was clear.

Earlier this year, Microsoft released a Knowledgebase article referencing a series of Windows 7 patches released in March 2018. The article mentioned a known issue preventing these security updates from installing on pre-SSE2 (Streaming SIMD Extensions 2) machines, a modern feature which allows the computer to operate on large amounts of data at once. This meant anyone still using older processors such as the Pentium 3 now could not access essential security updates and patches for Windows 7.

In the article, Microsoft claimed they were working on a resolution for the issue and they would make the fix available in an upcoming update. The same messaging accompanies patches released in May and June. Then, on June 15th the company quietly edited this article to state that any pre-SSE2 machines would have to be upgraded. While the number of people running Windows 7 on Pentium 3 machines is small, the fact remains that Microsoft is reneging on a promise of uninterrupted support across all devices here. It seems as if these users have no option but to purchase new machines if they still want to ensure the safety and stability of their digital environment.

Related Blog: Planning for Windows 7 End of Life

Bloated Updates

Another issue IT insiders have picked up on is Windows 7 security updates have increased in size over the past couple of years. According to Microsoft’s own reported figures, the company’s comprehensive Monthly Rollups for Windows 7 have grown over 70% since the company revamped its OS update policy in October 2016. Microsoft product marketing manager Nathan Mercer indicated monthly patches could grow even further to more than 500MB in size.

No More Online Support

Microsoft also announced their representatives would no longer provide technical assistance to users who posted questions about Windows 7 OS on the Microsoft Community forums. This new mandate also extends to other aging software such as Windows 8.1, Office 2010 and 2013, Microsoft Security Essentials, and earlier versions of the Microsoft Surface. Many see these moves as a clear sign Microsoft is looking to make older versions of Windows less functional for users who still refuse to make the switch to Windows 10. It also acts as a signal Microsoft has no plans to extend support past the January 2020 date, despite the continued popularity of Windows 7 systems.

Are You Ready to Upgrade to Windows 10?

If your business is looking to upgrade its systems to Windows 10, then RMON Networks can help. Our team of IT support experts can guide you through the deployment process for your system upgrade. Contact us now for more information on our innovative technology solutions.

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