back to article If you really can't let go of Windows 7, Microsoft will keep things secure for another three years

Recognising that not everyone has climbed aboard the Windows 10 train, Microsoft has thrown a Window 7 Extended Support lifeline to more businesses... for a price. Microsoft 365 veep Jared Spataro had already cut laggardly enterprises some slack in September last year, and the kindly software giant has now extended its …

  1. GnuTzu Silver badge

    "For a fee, of course"

    I so desperately want to go back to the old Windows interface--in the workplace that is. At home, I have the luxury of being utterly Microsoft free, and the range of user interface choices is so wonderful. In the work place it's all locked down to one and only choice that Microsoft dictates and brainwashes people into.

    Microsoft's extreme dominance in the workplace is so undeniable. Windows 10 and Office 365 are proof of this. Will there ever be any freedom from this insanity, or is Microsoft now the new government agency of operating systems in the work place?

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: "For a fee, of course"

      I'm not aware of Microsoft removing the ability to replace the shell or start menu?

      Although I havent tried it since the days of Windows XP I thought there were still developers of replacements?

      A quick Google brings up Open Shell

      1. BigAndos

        Re: "For a fee, of course"

        Sadly many workplaces will block users from installing anything like that so you're left with the default Windows interface. I can't even set the desktop background or taskbar colour scheme on my work machine!

        1. GnuTzu Silver badge

          Re: "For a fee, of course"

          Yup, that's exactly what I was referring to, and it can be controlled by GPO so that users can't get away with cheating.

          GPO can even block add-ons and other settings in Chrome.

          O.K. so that's not Microsoft controlling that. But, previous versions of Windows came with options and alternatives--and it was Microsoft that took those away.

  2. LDS Silver badge

    Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

    £42 is not bad.

    1. seven of five

      Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

      per year, security only, first year.

      But yeah, not too bad,

      yet.

    2. Sorry, you cannot reuse an old handle.

      Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

      If the previous Windows XP "experiment in prolongation" is anything to go by, the price will double at each of the following two years...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

        I got mine of thE bay cost me £2.20 and a second at £1.51

        They both work and do I care, not really

        1. sal II

          Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

          These are most likely OEM licenses only legal for sale with a device by approved re-sellers.

          Juts have a working license key, doesn't mean you are using a legal copy of Windows.

          1. David Beck

            Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

            More likely part of a second hand licence deal usually but not always associated with companies going out of business. see-

            https://www.itassetmanagement.net/2014/02/13/yes-you-can/

          2. kmedcalf

            Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

            You can download a legal copy of Windows from Microsoft for free. All you need is a license key to make it work. In other words, for those that are rather thick, "legal copy of Windows" is quite independent of "valid license key" and "license".

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

      Not so bad in comparison with W10. In comparison with the alternatives it's another matter.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

        *Looks at Apple*

        *Looks at Linux/BSD*

        I would say its in the middle.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Given the cost of a Windows 10 Pro license...

      agreed, but here's a better idea: just practice "safe surfing" and avoid the security problem altogether.

      a) don't surf the web using a microsoft browser. If possible, don't use a microsoft OS, either.

      b) don't open (aka 'double-click or in any way activate) anything downloaded from the internet. Open the program that views it and use 'file open' directly.

      c) NEVER view e-mail as html. This includes WEB MAIL.

      d) don't preview attachments inline - *EVER*

      e) use NOSCRIPT or some other script-blocking tool on everything that isn't EXPLICITLY trusted.

      and so on.

      I still use XP for some things [like 3D printing]. that little box is just fine for that. It came with XP, and that's the way it is. Other former XP boxen became Linux boxen. One laptop got 7 on it. There is *NO* *NEED* *TO* *DOWNGRADE* *TO* *WIN-10-NIC* !!!

  3. Dr. Ellen
    Holmes

    Windows 7 unpatched is better than Windows 10 for security

    Office 2010 is dying? I was using Office 07 until Windows 7 came along and I migrated to Office 2003. If it does the job, why throw it out? People kept sending me DOCX files though, so I switched to LibreOffice (which could read them).

    1. aregross

      Re: Windows 7 unpatched is better than Windows 10 for security

      There was a M$ patch for O2k3 that converted DOCX/XLSX files on the fly.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: 450MB/sec, 1GB/sec?

        >Patch?

        I thought that was the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack

        1. aregross

          Re: 450MB/sec, 1GB/sec?

          I thought that was the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack=Patch?

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: 450MB/sec, 1GB/sec?

            >Pack=Patch

            In my view this is the case when the Pack is a KBnnnnnn download.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: Windows 7 unpatched is better than Windows 10 for security

      Any reason not to just switch fully to LibreOffice?

      I know BOTH suites have their quirks but for home use, I can't think of a reason to spend more for Microsoft Office.

  4. martinusher Silver badge

    Features? Bah!

    One overriding maxim in engineering is "If it works don't mess with it". Computers and their associated software exist to do a job so if they're performing satisfactorily in that job there should be no need to change it and so run the risk of maintenance issues with the upgrade. We've seen what happens when you send random updates into the wild -- owning a Windows 10 system is interesting, you never know from one release to the next what's going to stop working (or maybe mysteriously start working again), but the cumulative effect this has on productivity is appalling. Do this to a non-captive customer base and you'll find that they'll desert you -- its only because MSFT has a virtual monopoly in commerce that it can get away with it.

    Part of the problem is phone culture. We've got a generation in the workforce that's schooled in the idea that 'apps' need constant updating which in turn means the platform they run on needs updating. This expectation has crept into workplace PCs -- you constantly read about 'exciting new features' in a Windows build which invariably are cosmetic changes to the user interface. Along with that is the idea that anything older than a few years is necessarily obsolete -- this article speaks of Windows 7 in disparaging terms. We at least should understand how operating systems, their support code and applications are layered so should be able to filter out the marketing BS but instead we're constantly exhorted to get the 'latest and greatest' because if we don't we'll be obsolete.

    1. GnuTzu Silver badge

      Re: Features? Bah!

      Yes, except software vendors generate greater revenues and profit if they can trick, err... guide you into comprehending the benefits of the new features, which they create to keep you on the upgrade merry go round--no matter how desperately you resist.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Features? Bah!

      "what's going to stop working (or maybe mysteriously start working again)"

      It could get interesting with certified medical equipment. Or certified military equipment. You can't just update that stuff willy nilly. Of course, kit like that should be locked down and not subject to Windows random monthly breakages anyway.

    3. MJB7 Silver badge

      Re: Features? Bah!

      Sadly, both apps and platform *do* need constant updating. Precisely to fix the security holes that have newly been discovered. Now, in an ideal world, there wouldn't be any security holes in the first place - but there are, and when they are, they need to be patched (promptly).

      This obviously applies much less to an isolated device with no network connectivity - but there aren't many of those left; even for industrial controllers. (It really helps to be able to send the X-rays direct to the consultant, for example.)

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: Features? Bah!

        You are correct, however there is a big difference between security updates and "feature" updates.

        Until a few years ago, you bought (or downloaded) some software (application, OS, browser, whatever), maybe paid a one-off price and the feature set would stay pretty fixed. Updates would be provided to fix security flaws and the odd bug here and there, but features typically wouldn't be messed with and you'd get a fairly reliable and consistent experience. Unless of course you made a conscious decision at some point to install a newer version with some new features.

        Now? We're in this cycle where developers have this mad obsession with new features all the time - and forcing these features out to people as quickly as they can. They're under the belief that these new features are so incredible and necessary that they must be forced out to everyone as soon as possible. Some no longer even sell a one-off license for their product, but instead sell a "subscription" - because everyone must want this constant flood of new features. The problem is that adding new features increases the risk of breaking something, plus the updates are usually much bigger than for simple security patches. Plus the developers can't seem to comprehend that some people couldn't give a f**k about constant new features - they just want software which works in a consistent, reliable and stable manner.

        Result? OS, applications, browsers etc. constantly updating (and breaking) themselves all the time, users increasingly getting "update fatigue" as everything around them constantly insists on applying the latest and greatest feature updates every 5 minutes. It is an obsession that frankly needs to end. I have a computer so I can use it productively, not so I can sit there like a lemon whilst Office, Windows, Chrome, Firefox, Acrobat etc. dick about every 5 seconds installing new features for me to ignore...

        1. Baldy1138

          Re: Features? Bah!

          I don't claim to be any kind of tech guru, but my solution is to write my own software for the stuff I actually do at home and work. I have a database program, a markdown-based word/HTML/CSS processor, a media player, and a couple of tools for specific tasks. Add GIMP, KeePassX, and Vivaldi, and frankly I don't care what version of Windows I'm using.

        2. Smartypantz

          Re: Features? Bah!

          So true! and most of the time the "new features" are just the same old functionality being shifted around in the UI. combine this with "continuous delivery" and you have pure insanity, It is all a combination of make-busy-work for the developers combined with profit-driven upgrade bullshit. I really wonder why the users put up with this?

          The greatest service, the software business have ever done to the world was NOT upgrading Windows XP for as long as it did, towards the end a lot of stuff was actually working!!

          I hate this business! I want out!

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Features? Bah!

        (It really helps to be able to send the X-rays direct to the consultant, for example.)

        Extraneous features like I'd have thought would cause problems. Sooner or later, X-Ray machines running Android, with Alexa hindering more than assisting and listening in when not butting in.

        Why can't the consultant pop by on his way to the Golf course, like they used to?

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Features? Bah!

          >(It really helps to be able to send the X-rays direct to the consultant, for example.)

          My HMO does this routinely at the moment. Its not exactly a technical tour de force. It obviously helps to have everything running on a protected intranet with any connection to the public network being carefully controlled and monitored.

          Medical and industrial equipment isn't updated regularly because of certification issues -- it takes months to test and certify a new version of code. So when a bug fix is requested its actually made to that version -- branch -- of code because the customer only wants the specific fix they asked for. Unlike the app culture there is no 'latest' to keep pushing out and I think this little misunderstanding may go a long way to explaining why IoT isn't quite living up to the rosy predictions of marketing types. (Yes, I know that Tesla pushes out software updates all the time to their cars but if you look at what they're pushing out then you'll see that they conform to this pattern as well -- they'd be skating on really thin ice if they didn't.)

      3. tibbzy

        Re: Features? Bah!

        You can still connect briefly, send your x-rays, then disconnect to maintain integrity.

      4. Smartypantz

        Re: Features? Bah!

        There is a very big distinction between security updates and "continuous delivery/roling releases" that you seem to have missed, one is necessary, the other is bullshit!

    4. Def Silver badge

      Re: Features? Bah!

      I've noticed this with my software products.

      I release fixes and updates when I deem I need to and, more importantly, when they're ready. I've received emails in the past asking whether the products were still available (they're available for download on my company's website) because they were "so old" (updated maybe nine months prior to the email).

      I even had one person ask me two days ago whether they supported Windows 10.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Features? Bah!

      Network and Information System Regulation 2018 - It's no longer optional for many public (and some private) sector organisations to not update software etc.

      There was a time when they would drag their heels, those days are gone, need to get with it or face a fine.. it'll be interesting where the first fine lands and how big it is though.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Features? Bah!

        And what happens when those regulations meet a requirement that whatever the system supports needs certification, the existing certification only applies to the previous version and recertification is going to take a few months?

  5. steviebuk Silver badge

    Marks & Spencer

    I wonder if they will be paying. Their customer service desks in the local store still uses Windows 7.

  6. ashdav

    Win 7

    I've installed a clean Win 7 sp1 on several peoples computers over the last year or so.

    Turned off updates and all is well.

    A lot quicker than with all the "updates" too.

    Remember Win 7. The last best OS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Win 7

      "Remember Win 7. The last best OS."

      Remember Win 7. The last best M$ Windows OS.

      FTFY

      1. Sorry, you cannot reuse an old handle.

        Re: Win 7

        Remember Win 7. The last best OS for the office before M$ forced Windows 10 down everyone's throat.

        Linux (with Ubuntu, Mint, Elementary, Deepin) can easily become the favourite OS for the home and when browsing those silly websites that won't work for an online payment (usually the more British-oriented ones), feel free to quickly grab a (Windows-free) tablet and it does the job without blinking.

        2020 may not be the Linux year, but is definetely not the Microsoft one either anymore...

        https://www.nicealias.com/articles/operating-system-share.eng

        1. Halfmad Silver badge

          Re: Win 7

          Linux will not take off like that as people are using MS OS at work. Otherwise it'd be far more common for Linux to be used at home already, another barrier is gaming although that's less of an issue in certain areas.

          1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

            Re: Win 7

            Linux will not take off like that as people are using MS OS at work. Otherwise it'd be far more common for Linux to be used at home already

            I think it's more a matter that every computer that normal "IT civilians" buy in a normal retail channel comes with an OS, and the cheaper ones come with Windows.

            I have never met a non-IT person who has wiped the pre-installed OS from a brand-new computer and installed Linux on it. I'm sure they're out there, but they are a tiny minority. They just use what it came with.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Win 7

          "M$ forced Windows 10 down everyone's throat."

          I would've used "CRAMMED" and a different end to the digestive tract

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "In the meantime, it may finally be time to take a deep breath and buy that new PC with Windows 10."

    W7 will be safely air-gapped to run any legacy Windows applications. Spare motherboards and install disks in the cupboard.

    For anything Web-facing - Linux Mint.

    Rarely get a support call from friends etc - they use their smart phones for most things. One user of (non-subscription) PhotoShop will be instructed how to use an air gap.

    Should last me out. After over 50 years in IT - the usual phrase about "prising W7 from my cold dead hands" will probably be literal.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge

      I came here to say the same thing.

      The few "Windows Legacy" apps I need are run in a VM or (occasionally) on bare metal, but never allowed to see the Internet.

      Everything I have that talks to the Internet runs on Linux Mint. I use LibreOffice for most everything it does.

      I was once a MS evangelist. Then came Windows 8 with it's totally buggered interface, and that shocked me. That abortion was followed by Win X with it's slurping, stealth installations, and forced, untested updates that regularly create major problems for its users. Good Lord, why would anyone want to put up with that crap if there was an alternative? Fortunately, for me, there was an alternative. The decay of Windows finally motivated me, lazy bastard though I am, to learn how to set up and use Linux Mint, and I'm now a happy member of the penguin camp.

    2. simonlb Silver badge

      Re: Everything under control

      I just use an internet disabled Win7 VM in VirtualBox for the tiny - less than 5% - of the stuff I cannot specifically do easily or as well in my Linux setup. Cloned it and have a couple of snapshots available in case it stops working or I need spin up a new one.

      No need to consider any other version of Windows at all in our house.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I would have thought that MS OS security issues were design flaws

    however since MS are unwilling to provide patches for their broken OS then license holders can always fix it themselves or via a third party.

  9. Ian Emery Silver badge

    I told you so

    Several times when the doomsayers spouted their carp.

    I expect before too many people pay up, someone will hack it and it will all be for free.

    I bet the real EOL for Win7 will be nearer 2030AD than 2020AD, unless they REALLY fix Windoze Permanent Beta.

  10. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

    I've tinkered around with Windows 10 machines, and its guts are good, but unfortunately Microsoft has buried them under metric tons of crap. Microsoft would probably see a lot more adoption if they just gave users much more control over their system, like being able to remove Cortana, remove all the cloud integration stuff, and the hundred and one other bits of junk that aren't necessary for an OS. I would love for them to fix their update system so that by default you just get security updates, the rest is opt-in.

    At the very least, get rid of all the 'telemetry' spy ware, or disable it by default, but allow people to opt-in to it, especially if they provided a better help/support AI that could use that telemetry data, like "I see that you installed "Buggy Program 2019" last week, which is when you reported problems, would you like help uninstalling or updating it?". Rather than "we're just going to collect your data, sell it to third parties but leave you high and dry so you have to bother relatives to get your machine fixed".

    Although I doubt I will ever go back to Windows, short of a miracle on Microsoft's part or something tragic like Linus naming Lennart as his successor...

  11. Old one

    other options

    I guess being lazy that I have not switched OS but if MS has no security for Win 7 then I have no need to keep their OS. Know I have at least one Linux system on a USB drive here - may be a couple years old so need to refresh. Need a kick in the butt - maybe for my 70th birthday in a couple of weeks. Of course its the worry that a couple legacy programs will not work on a new OS. Just don't need any issues right now.

  12. Carl D

    I find it quite amusing that Microsoft have been telling us for the last 4 years that if they can get everyone onto Windows 10 then they can concentrate on supporting that without having to spend the time and money providing patches for older operating systems like Windows 7.

    But... they will STILL be spending time and money writing security patches for Windows 7 for another 3 years. But, not for Joe Average anymore. We can't have them so tough luck for us if a major security issue hits Windows 7 after next January as I'm sure it will - I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft (in cahoots with it's security company "mates") have a whole list of 'major' security flaws stockpiled ready to try and persuade all the Joe Averages still on Windows 7 to move to 10.

    I think it's time for me to go back to an online Linux Mint / offline Windows 7 setup like I was trying out a couple of years ago.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft really wants those users to make the move

    To which I say, in a measured fashion: FUCK YOU MICROSOFT! (and thanks for breaking my inertia to push me to Linux).

  14. Whypay

    Keep your current computer

    Delete Windows 7 and install Linux for free, delete Microsoft Office and install Libra Office for free. Libra works with Microsoft Office documents already saved. Why buy a new computer? Many older Windows 7 computers don't have the system requirements for Windows 10 but operate fine with Linux and Libra.

  15. Securitymoose

    I'd willing pay a fee...

    ...to stop those interminable updates borking my Windows 7 almost every time I switch it on. Hurry up and go out of support, so I can get on with my work!

  16. Honeystoned
    Mushroom

    NHS

    My mum works at at GP, all their systems still running Windows 7. I wonder how and when they will decide to upgrade to the diaster that is Windows 10. Seeing as the NHS still loves to work with Fax machines and the sorts Windows 7 seems quite new for that GP. Im sure some others are still running Vista. Will be a massive job anyway...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Games?

    W10, most bloated spyware MS ever made. W7, most stable gaming OS for popular games. Linux, still waiting for solid popular gaming support.

    Me, sick of all the greed, going back to XP with black ice FTW.

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Re: Games?

      My advice: Install Linux and write your own games.

      After three days without prgramming, life becomes meaningless. (Tao of Programming Book 2)

  18. John Savard Silver badge

    Shocking

    They should be made to provide free security updates forever. They should not have written it with bugs in the first place. But taking the people who write viruses and making them work to make money to pay Microsoft to re-imburse it for its expenses in making its operating system secure is fair too. As well as all other operating system vendors or producers, of course.

  19. MJI Silver badge

    10 UI is shit

    I have recently been upgraded at work to a new PC infected with Win 10.

    And so far due to a poor UI.

    I sent a part written message to a customer as I thought the button was on teh dialog I was currently on.

    Possibly moved rather than copied our source code.

    The UI for 10 is horrific and is slowing me down and stressing me out.

  20. kmedcalf

    Now they can make it Secure?

    Microsoft has been unable to make Windows 7 "secure" for the past decade, what makes them think they can make it "secure" now? And if they can make is "secure" now, why didn't they do that from the get-go?

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