Microsoft to Enterprise IT: Time to Ditch Windows 7

Is your business still using Windows 7? It's time to upgrade to Windows 10, according to Microsoft, even though end-of-life support for the aging operating system is still three years away.

Windows 7 isn't as secure as its modern counterpart, Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft's German subsidiary, wrote in a German blog post. The OS, which first arrived in 2009, "does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments," Nitschke wrote, according to ZDNet.

Microsoft plans to end support for the operating system on January 13, 2020. After that date, it will no longer receive security patches. But even those patches aren't enough to make it as secure as Windows 10, which has multiple security features geared toward the enterprise IT environment. They include built-in biometric security and a whitelist that checks each app's cryptographic signature and prevents it from running if it's determined to be unsafe.

Meanwhile, Redmond last year confirmed that all next-generation processors built by Intel, AMD, Qualcomm, or others, will only support Windows 10. That means if you buy a PC with these upgraded chips—Intel's "Kaby Lake," Qualcomm's "8996," and AMD's "Bristol Ridge"—they will only run Windows 10; you can't downgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Microsoft has also been highlighting Windows 10's security success stories in recent weeks. Company security researchers claim that Windows 10 would have thwarted two zero-day exploits that hackers used in a phishing campaign against think tanks and nongovernmental organizations in the US last fall.

Still, many corporations will find the 2020 deadline to upgrade or be cut off from security updates a nuisance, because it means updating legacy software that's designed for Windows 7 or earlier OSes. It will also mean updating networks to support new features, and reconfiguring cloud apps, as Brad Passman, director of information technology at Novetta, noted when Windows 10 was released in 2015.

Microsoft's decision to step up its role as Windows 10 cheerleader for enterprises comes as the company admitted that its upgrade push for consumers was too aggressive. The company's Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela said last month that Redmond had indeed made mistakes, including "getting too aggressive in pushing out the Windows 10 free upgrade."

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