Microsoft this week rolled out a patch for Windows 7 that sets the stage for warning users about the OS's impending end of support. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that it will start alerting users that it will drop official support for the OS on January 14, 2020.
This week's patch adds the necessary bits to start making users aware of the impending date, with alerts set to begin in April (via TechCrunch).
When support ends in January, Microsoft will stop servicing Windows 7 with security and feature updates. Enterprise customers will still be able to pay to extend support, ensuring that they'll continue to receive patches for security issues. However, most normal Windows 7 users will be encouraged to move to Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 to continue receiving security updates from Microsoft.
From Microsoft's original blog post announcing the alerts:
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.
Given that Windows 7 still accounts for a major chunk of Windows PC's on in the wild, according to Net Marketshare, Microsoft will have a large task on its hands to encourage updates.
Windows 10 is no longer offered as a free upgrade for Windows 7 users; that offer was only available for a period after Windows 10 first hit the market. However, it's still possible to snag Windows 10 for free by using your Windows 7 product key to validate your Windows 10 install, although this isn't officially recognized by Microsoft.
For more, you can read Microsoft's support article on the patch.
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