Windows 7 holds a special place in the heart of many PC users, but as of Tuesday, Jan. 14, Microsoft is washing its hands of the beloved operating system.
That’s the date the software giant will officially no longer support Windows 7, meaning it won’t provide any more software or security updates. And that could open the door for hackers.
“While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware,” the company said on its Website.
Microsoft is urging Windows 7 devotees to upgrade to Windows—and encouraging them to get a new PC as they do so. The chance to upgrade PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free expired roughly three years ago.
“Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10,” Microsoft said. “And the best way to experience Windows 10 is on a new PC. While it is possible to install Windows 10 on your older device, it is not recommended.”
Microsoft has been trying to step away from Windows 7 for years, five in fact, but the system’s extreme popularity has forced the company to extend support. Many banks, doctors offices and even airlines have used Windows 7 as recently as last year to operate their equipment.
Hackers routinely probe operating systems for weaknesses and with Microsoft no longer supplying patches, any new vulnerabilities will be fully exploitable on machines with Windows 7. That could be especially damaging for companies that use the OS on devices that have sensitive customer information.
Consumers can purchase a copy of Windows 10 for as little as $139, though a copy of Windows 10 Pro runs $200.