Microsoft officially ends support to Windows 7 after a decade. After the debut in 2009, Microsoft is finally ending support for Windows 7, the popular OS that continues to run on millions of devices globally.

Microsoft had been notifying users since last year and starting Wednesday, a full-screen notification will appear for Windows 7 users, warning them about the end of support, The Verge notes.

Microsoft has also urged Windows 7 users to make an upgrade to Windows 10 to enjoy new features and continued support.

“Today marks the end of support for Windows 7. Ten years ago, when we first announced Windows 7 and Office 2010, we focused on delivering the best productivity experience of the time. But since then, thanks to breakthrough advancements in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), we’ve been able to build tools to help you take advantage of new forms of productivity. With Windows 10, the power of the cloud makes you and your organization more productive and secure than ever. ” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

To encourage users to upgrade to the newer Windows 10 platform, Microsoft is offering a free year of post-retirement updates to Windows 7 customers with active Windows 10 subscriptions.

What does this mean?

Microsoft will no longer provide updates or security patches for the 11-year-old operating system, and the hundreds of millions of PCs still using it are vulnerable to attack. One-third of PCs around the world run Windows 7, according to NetMarketShare.

So, what must you do next?

1. Upgrade your existing equipment to Windows 10: To check if your computer will be able to run Windows 10, Microsoft has published a compatibility guide that will help you determine whether your specifications meet the minimums for the latest version of Windows. For example, your PC needs at least 32 GB of hard drive storage space, 1 GB of RAM and a processor with a clock speed of at least 1 GHz.

2. Buy a new computer/laptop: If your system does not support Windows 10, buy a new one.

3. If you don’t take any of the above-mentioned steps, here’s what you must know: Google Chrome said it will continue providing updates to browsers running on Windows 7 PCs until July 2021. So, while you may keep using Windows 7 till then, remember to keep updating your browser.

Risk in not upgrading your machine

The internet is filled with malware that might infect your machine. The threat landscape is set to get all the more complicated in the coming year with the growth of ransomware and rise of deepfakes which will be used to drive large-scale enterprise frauds, while advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks will be deployed against critical enterprise infrastructure to steal sensitive data, say experts.

Currently, most ransomware authors target individual users and devices. This is expected to change in the future, with a projected increase in the number of complex ransomware attacks directed at Cloud infrastructures, said security researchers at Seqrite, the enterprise security solutions brand of Quick Heal Technologies Ltd.

With Microsoft announcing the end of technical support for Windows 7, the number of attacks deployed against Windows 7 devices is expected to increase in 2020, warned the researchers.

Amongst other enterprise security trends predicted by Seqrite is an increase in complexity and volume of web skimming attacks.

Web skimmers such as Magecart wreaked much havoc in 2019 and compromise thousands of websites to deliver skimming codes.

Web skimmers with self-deleting code abilities such as Pipka are expected to gain prominence in 2020.

Researchers from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky have predicted that personal information abuse will grow in 2020.

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