Those who are using computers that feature a CPU without Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data Extensions 2 (SSE2) support won’t be able to take advantage of any further security updates for Windows 7. Microsoft currently has Windows 7 in extended support mode, which means that they already don’t plan to add any new features.
The only releases put through on the updates channel are for security reasons. Nevertheless, those who are on older CPU might not even be able to install these any longer.
Microsoft has made something of an exception for those who use Intel processors that can’t handle SSE2 protocols because of bugs. If you have a friend who is still using a Pentium 3, however, then they’re going to soon be at risk.
While it’s currently unclear how many users will be affected by this, it might hurt some types of embedded and industrial machines the most. Then again, many of these devices are in locked and secured environments where Microsoft’s security updates aren’t necessarily as important as they are to those who deploy networked software on their machines.
In spite of this fact these users should still potentially consider themselves at risk. The good news is that Intel stopped producing chips that don’t support SSE2 around 2003, which translates into many of these machines having met end of life events. Consumer-grade equipment that’s at least 15 years old may start to suffer from other unrelated hardware problems.
Users with other Intel processors should continue to be able to download updates for Windows 7 until January 14, 2020. That being said, some people in the industry believe that Microsoft could be looking at attempting to retire the operating system earlier than they had originally planned.
Some have also suggested that Microsoft may be attempting to get existing users to eventually migrate to Windows 10 if they haven’t already. Those who have Windows 8 RTM on any type of device already lost support for updates over two year ago if they didn’t move to version 8.1.
Individuals who find themselves with working stable Pentium III hardware should be able to find a lightweight distro of GNU/Linux or *BSD that still provides relevant security updates for the foreseeable future.