Windows 7 Has One Year to Live

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Some people have clung to Windows 7 the way Leonardo DiCaprio should've held on to that door in Titanic. Call it a work-related necessity, devotion to a legacy operating system, or just plain stubbornness, but a fair number of Windows 7 users have simply refused to update to Windows 10. They'll only be able to do that for another year, though, because that's when Microsoft will do its best Kate Winslet impression by leaving all those people behind.

That's right: Microsoft will officially stop releasing any updates for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. (Technically it stopped updating the base version of the operating system in 2013; users have to install Windows 7 Service Pack 1 to get more recent updates.) Once those releases stop, Windows 7 will have officially been abandoned by its creator, and its users will either have to use the neglected operating system or finally upgrade to Windows 10.

Microsoft simply can't support legacy operating systems like Windows 7 in perpetuity. The company has not only moved on to offering a new operating system, leaving it little financial motivation to update a version it doesn't even sell anymore, but it's also recognized that releasing these updates requires a significant investment. Keeping up with the latest security vulnerabilities, hardware cycle, and driver updates isn't exactly an easy feat.

Hence the current limits Microsoft puts on the life cycle of legacy operating systems. Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in 2015, six years after the operating system debuted, and the extended support ran for an extra five years after that. Windows 8.1 got the same treatment: mainstream support ended in 2018 and extended support is scheduled to end on January 10, 2023.

None of which changes the fact that some Windows 7 users can't or don't want to stop using the operating system. Many organizations are slow to update their machines for a variety of reasons, from requiring compatibility with certain utilities to financial concerns, so they need their operating systems to be supported for a long time. Some people don't like Windows 10 for one reason or another so they stick with older versions of Windows.

But it's not like Windows 7 will immediately stop working on January 14, 2020. The operating system will continue to function. It will just become increasingly vulnerable to security threats, and eventually it will be even more frustrating to get it working on modern hardware. People who want to keep on clinging to that door can do so until they (metaphorically) drown like DiCaprio. They just shouldn't expect Celine Dion to sing for them.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • royalflush1993
    Well, Jack Dawson actually died because of hypothermia, he didn't drown.
  • JamesSneed
    This OS will self destruct in one year.....
  • jimmysmitty
    The same thing happened with XP and Windows 2K etc. This always happens.

    Some companies will pay Microsoft to keep 7 alive just for them just as some have done for XP and I think still do. I am sure it costs quite a bit but probably not as much as having to replace all the hardware and software around a device running XP.

    I am currently working towards killing 7 in our environment. It had its glory but now its time to move on.
  • punkncat
    Windows 7 was a good OS. I liked many of the features it ushered in to the platform. I particularly like that it can remain perfectly happy as an offline machine. The growing pains that were 8 and 8.1 yielded what I feel is a really good OS in 10, aside from that aforementioned issue. The fact that 10 wants to 'call home' all the time, even in environments where there is no internet is frustrating at best.
  • emilymoritz92
    DiCaprio's character froze to death, he didn't drown. And he did a pretty good job of holding on, Kate Winslet ripped his frozen hands off of the door.
  • AldoGG
    That was the best OS ever
  • secarter5
    So, Windows 10 just last month past Windows 7 in total install base. Need I say anything more as to how bad Windows 10 has been received? I am a long time tech guy, and Microsoft peaked at Windows 7 and has steadily declined in OS quality since 7.
    I believe Microsoft will extend Windows 7 security patches beyond published deadline or lose market share to LINUX and other platforms. As someone who supports Windows 7 and 10, I WILL NOT be adding any additional Windows 10 platforms unless there is NO OTHER option is OS selection.
    I believe that I would be better off on unsupported Windows 7 than the disaster that is Microsoft "supported" Windows 10 and their monthly break the world approach to support
  • gdmaclew
    They can have my Windows 7 when they can pry it from my cold dead hands!
  • miles.dunerider
    Let's check the news, how many times has Win 7 frozen or done bad things when it is updated vs Win 10? I am one of those hold outs, I like the fact that I can use my computer when the internet goes out, I like feeling safe to update because Microsoft is not being creative with it's Win 7 updates, frequently causing compatibility problems. I especially like getting fewer advertisements, many of which are spammers trying to fake me into clicking the a. Win 7 is legacy, it supports older PC's, but it is also stable, and Microsoft is not focused on changing it. Oh one more thing, I can turn off updates for a while so I can see if others get messed up!
  • rrd1
    Win 7 shuld be best remembered for ..........

    use of F8 key during startup...try doing that when your computer/laptop goes for bootloop or BSOD at startup say due to unmountable boot volume....just press F8 > disable auto restart on system failure.....heck try to go in safe mode in win 10...."Just try it."
    imagines people making vids of this feature....10 ten things you can do in win7 but not in win10...xD