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Microsoft to start warning users about Windows 7 end-of-support deadline

Microsoft today announced that starting next month users still running Windows 7 will begin seeing popups warning them of its upcoming end-of-support date and explaining what that means for their PCs. Windows 7 has now entered its final year of official support from Microsoft, and after January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop supporting and servicing Windows 7 with security and feature updates. It will essentially become abandonware.

While volume license customers will still be able to pay for updates on Windows 7, most normal users will be out of luck. To remain secure, you'll have to upgrade your OS to either Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates from Microsoft every month. Failure to do so will put your PC at risk, especially if it's one that connects to the internet. Windows 7 accounts for around 40 percent of all Windows PCs on the market, according to netmarketshare.com, making it a huge target for attackers once January 14 rolls around.

Friendly warnings

Microsoft says that the warnings on Windows 7 will appear every so often, but users can permanently dismiss them, meaning future warnings will not appear. Just like with Windows XP, the warnings will simply state that this version of Windows is almost out of support and will provide links to Microsoft websites that detail what this means and what the user can do.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows, Matt Barlow said the following:

Beginning next month, if you are a Windows 7 customer, you can expect to see a notification appear on your Windows 7 PC. This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again," and we will not send you any further reminders.

Microsoft isn't going to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade for Windows 7 users like it did when Windows 10 first launched, meaning users will have to buy a Windows 10 license if they want to upgrade. However, Windows 7 users can still get Windows 10 for free unofficially by using their Windows 7 license key when activating Windows 10. Microsoft doesn't acknowledge that this works, but it grants you a genuine Windows 10 license upon activation. We recommend doing this as soon as possible if you're still running Windows 7.

If you're a Windows 7 user who simply doesn't want to upgrade to Windows 10, there are alternatives such as macOS, Linux, and even Windows 8.1. But remaining on Windows 7 is a terrible idea. Using third-party antivirus software after January 14 won't protect you from an attacker taking advantage of any OS vulnerabilities that pop up after support has ended. Windows 7 is now 10 years old, and by all accounts is a legacy OS.

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

21 Comments
  • i do not blame people for staying with windows 7, windows ten is full of bloat and is for ever changing, even after all this time the UI is still changing, Ms keeps changing their mind how they want Windows 10 to look like. there are still bits of the UI that don't match the rest of windows 10. the settings and control panel should have been sorted long ago, not half and half as it is now, also setting keep changing things move. the start menu is a mess in Windows 10, at least in Windows 7 it was easy to navigate and did not have the stupid tiles that is with Windows 10, than fully that is easily solved with a third party start menu. More bloated apps, the ones that was in Windows 7 and 8 for that matter worked, like the photo viewer, it did what it said on the tin and now on Windows 10 it is a bloated mess trying to be a video editor which it will never be. Other stuff Me add to try and get us onto their cloud system, like their new clipboard, i am shocked that is not turned on by default like their timeline. Then there is the forced updates, that add even more bloat and then the notifications I have never known such a noisy OS, it is as if it wants you to know it is there, all disabled on my machine. then the telemetry, for goodness sake give us a choice to disable this. All I want from an OS is to run the software I want to run and that is why Windows 7 was and still is popular, it sits in the background running software.
  • Windows 10 is actually not bloated... And classic Photo Viewer is still on Windows 10
  • I guess live tiles and notifications are too complex for some people to handle.If people wanna stay in the past let them, they can use their ZX spectrum if they want to.
  • Not too complex at all, just not needed. the live tiles are useless since you only see them now and again and the notifications was far too many, never had so many on older version of Windows, which is why I shut them down. i really do not need Windows to tell me i plugged in a usb device, I know I plugged it, it was in my hand when I did it. The Zx spectrum was a good machine in its time and gave less problems,
  • This person's comment is almost not worth responding to. It's obvious they haven't used any of the last few public builds, especially with the Settings and Control Panel comment.
  • So are you saying that there is no control panel anymore and that everything is in settings? Because that is what it sound like. If it is not worth responding to, then why did you?
  • That's not what I said at all. Most settings are moved now, that's what I said. I also responded to someone else and not you. =P
  • Windows itself may not be bloated, but the stuff that Ms adds to it makes it more bloated than it should be. Classic viewer is still available at the moment, but if you do a clean install you have to edit the registry to get it
  • >windows ten is full of bloat
    So glad you let me know you had no clue what you were talking about right at the beginning. Otherwise I would have bothered reading the rest of your comment
  • It is full of bloat, look at the crap MS added, cortana, photo app, some timeline and other apps that does more that what they did in the older version of Windows.
  • Bloat? There's no more bloat in Windows 10 than 7, and what there is comes from choices made by OEMs. Regarding the Control Panel, that view may have been valid in 2016, but no longer. Yes, the Control Panel still exists, but mostly only for old third-party CPLs (like Java) or hardware add-ons that run on Windows 7 and Windows 10 (like some Lenovo or HP modules). Pretty much everything Microsoft is now in Settings. Ending Windows 7 will allow us to finally get rid of that crap in Windows 10, because developers will no longer need to support the old CPL model. Windows 10 is better than Windows 7 in every conceivable way -- UI, performance, power management (battery life), hardware support, etc. It offers dark and light modes, touch support, night light, Your Phone (about to support phone mirroring to the desktop), and so much more than was just not possible in Windows 7.
  • You just keep thinking there is no more bloat. windows 7 had software, what people now call apps, yes, Calculator, notepad, wordpad, paint, older versions of windows had an ok email client. But most of these things was simple things, but now that machine have more memory and drive space MS have decided to make these things do more. i have not had an OEM machine about from my laptop since late 1998, my first PC was OEM, but it had nothing added to it, in fact the Windows 95 disk came it, just a bog standard 95 disk. My laptop was an Acer and to be honest it did not have that much on and it could be removed. Maybe MS should learn a lesson from that. Saying that they are slowly allowing people to remove more of apps. and disable more features, just a shame we can't do it on install.
    Would it not be difficult if MS had an option on installation of windows 10 saying if you want to customise the apps, click here and then take us to a scree where can do that? My sound card still use the control panal and even newer hardware like my shuttle express. I do not think the control panel will ever go to be honest or if it does it will be many years. UI better in windows 10 than Windows 7? that is a laugh, windows 10 UI is not even complete and only in the last couple of updates had they sorted out the context menu so it don't look out of place and the UI still looks like it have been cobbled together. i agree with you over performance to a certain degree, but when I was using vegas, running it on Windows 7 or windows 10 made no difference what so ever when I was using it on my old machine, it still took the same amount of time to render the video. Battery life maybe, I have 10 running on a desktop so I can not say. windows 10 is certainly better at memory management, but then so was Windows 8. Dark and light modes could have been added to Windows 7 and 8 for that matter, so nothing great about that and windows 8 had touch support and so did windows 7 to a certain degree, but remember touch screens was not really a thing when Windows 7 was launched.
    As for your phone, a minority of people will be able to use mirroring for a very long time, because of the bluetooth standard it needs. Myself I stay well away from your Phone. i am not against people using these things if that is what they want, but I think we need better control to disable and uninstall them while Windows 10 is being installed or first use start up with an OEM machine. I just want an Os that works with out me having to go about disabling stuff and then fidning out thjat what I thought I disabled I have not really disabled it as it is still running in the back ground, IE cortana. Also, lets have more choice about telemetry, like full, basic security and off.
  • I thought the bloat was worse, not better, in the days of W7. Today you can even get Surface products that are completely free of OEM bloat, and MS's own "bloat" is minimal. And soon, you'll be able to uninstall more inbox apps. What's to complain about?
  • The only reason I keep a W7 PC still running is for media centre and an Xbox 360 extender, are there any better alternatives?
  • Staying on Windows 7 on my main machine until it dies. Which could be another 10 years from now.
  • Dual booting Win 10 pro and Win 8.1 pro. But, staying with 8.1 pro as main OS on my desktop until 8.1 is killed.
    Win 10 is nice but not totally matured...I give it till 2025!
  • Crap..........my desktop is running Windows XP and now my laptop with Windows 7 will be obsolete as well.
  • You can upgrade from XP to Vista, then Vista to 7 if you can.
    If you are running Windows 7 you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free, Your Windows 7 Product key will used as Digital License on Windows 10, and Activated.
  • I will never leave Windows for Workgroups! 95 is craaap!
    I will never leave Windows 95! Windows 2000? No Way.
    I will never leave Windows ME...(ok, bad example)
    It's XP or nothin! Don't try to shove that Vista stuff on me! (ok, possibly another bad example.)
    That Windows 7 looks like something a kid would put together! I will stay on XP until they rip it from my cold dead fingers!
    etc etc ad nauseam
  • I hope this is an update that Microsoft will issue in April and not something that will happen on every computer, Whether it has WU enabled or not. I'm saying this because I use Windows 7 and I'm not willing to upgrade. When support ends, I'll try and be safe on the internet. And my copy is one where Windows Update bricks the computer if you try to install updates. And I don't want to be warned (even if I click that "do not notify again" check) without me doing anything. Email me if you find out that it will be an update. My email is: melissa.vieiragarcia@gmail.com
  • I have Antivirus so I will keep Windows 7 forever. I have a USB and drivers ok, and My PC is dual booted with Windows 10 LTSB 2016 (with Aero Effect).