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Two Windows versions will never get a security update again

Windows 7 and 8.1 systems no longer get security updates, and millions of computers become “ticking time bombs.” And soon, support for Windows 10 will end as well.

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Now Windows 8.1 computers are also outdated. “Microsoft will no longer provide security updates and technical support for Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023,” Microsoft’s website states. Some users may still be able to upgrade their device to a newer version of Windows, but most of those devices don’t meet the hardware requirements for such a move.

Also, as of today, there is no support at all for computers still running the old Windows 7. Until now, companies and public authorities could buy a grace period and extend security updates for Windows 7—but that’s over now, too.

Windows 7 is still running on one in ten PCs

Windows 8 on a tablet computer—computers with such an old operating system are ticking time bombs.
Windows 8 on a tablet computer—computers with such an old operating system are ticking time bombs.

Nevertheless, many users continue to stick with their old, risky systems. According to figures from the statistics portal Statcounter, around one in ten Windows computers worldwide were still running the old Windows 7 in December.

Together with the other operating systems, Windows 8 and XP, which are no longer supported, there are almost three million insecure devices in operation in Germany’s private households.

In 2021, there were nearly 1,300 vulnerabilities at Microsoft

The problem: New security vulnerabilities are constantly being found in operating systems and software. For the year 2021 alone, Microsoft’s security report shows almost 1,300 vulnerabilities in its products. In the case of outdated systems, these security gaps are no longer documented and certainly not closed. Criminals like to exploit this—word of such vulnerabilities spreads immediately in hacker forums, explains Lueg.

Not only private computers are hijacked: Hackers have frequently exploited such unclosed security gaps, and entire parking garages have been manipulated so that barriers no longer open and close, says Lueg. “Hospitals have also been paralyzed in this way, which can then become life-threatening.”

Windows 10 will also soon reach the end of its support

As annoying and sometimes costly as it may be, IT security experts advise that only up-to-date operating systems that receive constant updates should be used. The same goes for software: if an automatic update function is available, it’s best to use it.

And sometimes the end of support for systems comes sooner than you think. Microsoft announced at the end of December that there will be no more Windows 10 security updates until the fall of 2025. Systems that meet the corresponding hardware requirements can update to Windows 11 for free.