Microsoft has indicated that it would continue to send across critical security updates to Windows 7 operating system installations even after its End of Support Life. The company has confirmed that Windows 7 running on select systems will continue to receive important updates to patch security vulnerabilities even after January 14, 2020, which is the official date after which Microsoft was to stop sending out any updates to the OS.
Windows 10, Microsoft latest operating system and successor to Windows 7, has been steadily rising in adoption. Moreover, Windows 7 was recently overtaken by Windows 10 installations. The latest OS from Microsoft has been receiving several major and minor feature updates for the past few years, while the decade-old Windows 7, and Windows 8.1 machines, have been getting only security and critical updates. The precursors to Windows 10 haven’t received any feature updates for quite some time.
Is Microsoft Relenting On Its Stand About Ending Support To Windows 7 After January 2020?
Microsoft has remained firm on ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020, and even sent multiple reminders to users who rely on Windows 7 and those who haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet. This means there are still several million Windows 7 installations. Incidentally, legitimate Windows 7 users were offered free upgrades to Windows 10 back when the OS was launched. However, many resisted, and continue to Windows 7 actively till this day.
PATCHED: The Election Assistance Commission greenlighted the continued use of voting systems that run on Microsoft Windows 7, despite the fact that Microsoft will no longer provide security updates for that system starting in January https://t.co/aIuhDmgEJv
— RR Apple (@RRalstonAgile) September 20, 2019
Microsoft has clearly indicated that not all of Windows 7 users will qualify to receive the critical security updates after January 2020. Windows 7 installations on computers that are part of the Microsoft’s ‘Defending Democracy Program’, will qualify for the extended support. In other words, only those machines which support the voting systems and mechanisms, and are used in the democratic election process, will receive the critical security updates to safeguard them from potential or discovered security threats. The extended support for such Windows 7 machines should be valid throughout the next year, explained Tom Burt, CVP of Customer Security & Trust at Microsoft,
“As a next step in protecting the 2020 elections, the Defending Democracy Program will make extended security updates available for free to federally certified voting systems running Windows 7. We will do this through the end of 2020, both in the United States and in other democratic countries, as defined by the EIU Democracy Index, that have national elections in 2020 and express interest. We are also working with major manufacturers that have sold voting machines running Windows 7 to ensure any security updates provided to these systems are successful.”
Simply put, Microsoft has indicated that computers running Windows 7 OS, which were sold or employed for the election process, and that too in the next year alone, could qualify to receive extended support. In addition to extending security and critical updates to voting machines, Microsoft will also offer special technical assistance to election authorities who are part of the company’s cloud-based platform Microsoft Azure.
— Dave W Shanahan (@DaveWShanahan) September 23, 2019
Microsoft has participated actively in developing reliable, secure and robust voting machines and other electoral systems. The company recently showcased some of the developments. It is clearly trying to win government approvals and contractors. Incidentally, the company has indicated that it would prefer to work with vendors and third-party agencies that arrange secure voting.
Many Windows 7 OS users had hopes about Microsoft giving in and extending support to their installations. These were bolstered when Microsoft extended security and critical updates support to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. Although technically the new developments are pertaining to Windows 7 installations, the updates are still restricted. Corporates, on the other hand, do have an option to pay for additional support, but that would be limited and expensive. Hence, it appears Microsoft is still holding steadfast on January 14, 2020, as the last date for general Windows 7 users to receive critical and security updates.