27% of Windows users are still running Windows 7. They need to stop now

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Stop using Windows 7
So this is it.

At 11am PST (7pm UK), Microsoft will release its last ever Patch Tuesday updates for Windows 7. After today, Microsoft says it won’t release any more security patches for the ageing operating system.

It’s not as if they didn’t warn you. Microsoft killed off its mainstream support for Windows 7 way back in January 2015, and the software has been on “extended support” ever since.

But now, time really is up. Microsoft would really like you to upgrade to a more modern version of Windows, but seeing as that will require a hardware upgrade for many users I can’t help but feel that many will simply choose to continue using a legacy operating system that is no longer receiving patches against newly-found vulnerabilities.

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That’s clearly a risky strategy, and Microsoft isn’t the only organisation to tell users that they need to ditch Windows 7.

The UK’s NCSC, speaking to the media this week, has warned users that they should not only upgrade their computers but should also refrain from accessing their banking, email and other sensitive accounts from PCs running Windows 7:

“The NCSC would encourage people to upgrade devices currently running Windows 7, allowing them to continue receiving software updates which help protect their devices.”

“We would urge those using the software after the deadline to replace unsupported devices as soon as possible, to move sensitive data to a supported device, and not to use them for tasks like accessing bank and other sensitive accounts. They should also consider accessing email from a different device.”

And don’t use the defence of thinking, “Oh, I’ll be fine. I can handle it.”

You may not care about your computer being infected or compromised by malware, but don’t forget that you are putting the rest of the online community at risk by potentially giving criminals a platform – in the form of your compromised Windows 7 PC – to launch attacks against other people’s systems.

Alarmingly, the latest statistics suggest that some 27% of all Windows users are running, yup, Windows 7.

Windows share

My hunch is that Windows 7 isn’t going away soon…

And, of course, we’ve been here before. Windows XP stopped being officially supported by Microsoft in 2014, and astonishingly is still being used to this day…

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

9 comments on “27% of Windows users are still running Windows 7. They need to stop now”

  1. jan

    I don`t understand you, win 7 will not stop like running into a wall .I ve been in the it buisness for 30 years

    1. Graham CluleyGraham Cluley · in reply to jan

      I didn’t say Windows 7 will stop running. (If it did stop running that might be a good thing. ;) )

      The issue is that Windows 7 users won't be able to get any more security updates. Which could be good news for hackers targeting Windows 7 users.

      1. jonh doe · in reply to Graham Cluley

        Like they did with XP?

        Also, do you know what percent of those numbers in the graph are hosting placeholder websites in a colo?

  2. Dragon's breath

    "don’t forget that you are putting the rest of the online community at risk by potentially giving criminals a platform"

    I think you will find that it is Microsoft that is doing that.

  3. Stephane

    Unfortunately I have too many old programs that won't run on Windows 10 so… I'll have to keep it… SO STUPID that Microsoft will stop doing security updates… all that to make more money and throwing their new products in our mouth…

  4. Hank

    So it's a "pay up or you're f***ed" scenario? – Sounds as though, by choosing not to secure Windows 7, Microsoft is distributing its own type of ransomware.

  5. Dragon's Breath

    Rather than buy Windows 10, with all that entails, perhaps a free anti-virus downloaded from the net would provide equivalent protection, although I have to say the one that Comodo keeps pushing on me really slows everything down.

  6. Jimbo

    > They need to stop now

    YOU need to stop now, Graham! It's not our fault that OS –> Ransomware. I CANNOT downgrade from W-7 to W10 because W10 spies on users and reports back to Microsoft and who knows who else. Deal breaker!

    Short story about W-7 vs W-XP:
    I spend a certain amount of time categorizing large numbers of files (not my porn collection, thanks for asking, I just don't want to learn to GIT b/c I'm getting too old for learning new stuff). THis task isn't difficult in XP b/c you can select a range of files based on alphabetic sorting, then re-sort on Date to further narrow down your file search or category. Works beautifully. As it SHOULD!

    But when I attempt the same mundane task in W-7, as soon as I change the sort order, all previously selected files are DEselected, hamstringing me in a most mundane *but necessary* task.

    The problem goes beyond the simply removal of a feature. One has to ask, WHY did MS decide to do that? And the only answer that makes real sense is that someone at Microsoft decided that W-XP was TOO GOOD for consumers. That consumers should not be handed THAT MUCH control over their own files. I am happy to entertain alternate explanations, if anyone has one that will stand up to hard scrutiny.

    Who would remove a feature like that? I can think of no GOOD reason for it, only terrible reasons.

    As for not being able to do banking online… my major account is an nline-ONLY account. Now I have to make other arrangements. May have to upgrade to Linux (and learn a whole lot of new stuff, never mind just GIT).

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