End of the Line for Windows 7, Open Road for Hackers

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Microsoft has been urging customers to perform the upgrade from their Windows 7 operating system, while trying to ease the transition with several options for extended support. It will stop providing routine fixes and security patches as of January 2020. Regular support for Windows Server 2008 is also scheduled to end at that time.

Windows 7 business customers can subscribe to Extended Security Updates (ESU) to receive security fixes for vulnerabilities discovered or reported in the operating system. However, patches are only issued in cases of threats that Microsoft has rated as “critical” or “important.”

These are the first two places in Microsoft’s four-step scoring system, which means that performance issues may not be resolved. Moreover, the ESU will only be available in one-year increments and only for three years. It is sold on device rather than by the user who offered Microsoft for Windows 10.

The ESU is available for US $ 25 to $ 50 per year per device, but the cost will double each year, so by 2022, support for the old Windows 7 operating system will cost $ 100 or $ 200 per device. Customers who subscribe to Microsoft 365 Enterprise are offered the lower price.

Windows 7 computers currently have 37.9 computers, while Windows 10 has a market share of 40.9, according to Net Maketshare data. On the commercial side of the market, Windows 10 accounts for more than 50 percent of the market.

Windows 7 was launched in 2009 as a replacement for the unpopular Windows Vista, as well as the Windows XP from 2001.

Server side
Microsoft also plans to complete support for Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server applications early next year, and has encouraged customers to migrate to Azure.

Unlike Windows 7, no ESU is planned, which means that customers have limited options.

The end of Windows Server 2008 support is why nearly a third of the companies surveyed considered purchasing new server hardware, according to the recent Spiceworks 2019 State of Servers report.

“Windows 2008 Server is the most used server in the world,” said Zohar Pinhasi, CEO of MonsterCloud, a provider of managed cyber security services.

As a result, it could become a tempting goal for hackers once the support ends.

“Many organizations have moved to Server 2012, but migration is not an easy task, and all too often companies take the ‘if it is not broken, don’t fix it’ approach,” he told theinfovalley.

“The criminals already know that Microsoft will suspend support for the operating system next year, and our research suggests they can prepare something important, such as exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities,” Pinhasi added.

Finish 7
Windows 7 has been released as a sequel to the disappointing Windows Vista. It received a warm welcome, considered the best feature of Windows XP and Vista.

However, in 2012, just three years after the release of Windows 7, Microsoft took the operating system in a whole new direction with Windows 8, offering the company a “modern user interface” with touchscreen options.

The new interface, which was also intended to connect to the tablets and PCs, could not be seen. Microsoft launched Windows 10 in 2015. Although Windows 7 combined the best aspects of XP and Vista, Windows 10 offered the best of Windows 7 and 8 / 8.1.

Perhaps because Windows 10 looks a lot like Windows 7, users have been slow to use it. Almost four years later, 10 exceeded only 7 of the total users. Microsoft has had to support three operating systems, so it’s not surprising that the company decided to disconnect the oldest.

“Windows 7 was introduced 10 years ago in 2009, that is, 70 years of dogs or years of internet, a lifetime,” said Paul Teich, chief analyst at LiftrCloud.

“It had to happen sometime, Microsoft has extended the lifetime of Windows 7 several times,” says Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Out With the Old OS

What makes this transition more difficult is that Windows 7 has done its job fairly well and that it is still a very stable operating system. However, supporting multiple operating systems is not only a source of resources, it is also not consistent with Microsoft’s new management.

“Microsoft is doing everything it can to push everyone to Windows 10, which is better suited to a revenue stream of services,” Kay told theinfovalley.

“In fact, there may never be another Windows,” he suggested. “The company continues to update the Windows 10 code virtually unlimitedly, now the beta versions of the new code are deleted, error messages are returned and the team corrects what is needed.”

Hardware Improvements

In the past, an upgrade barrier was the hardware used to run older versions of Windows. Switching from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 probably required users to buy a new computer. The same trend continued with Windows 98, Windows Millennium, Windows XP and in particular Windows Vista.

By the time Windows 7 appeared, Moore’s law of faster and faster processors seemed to be slowing down. More importantly, apart from some PC games, most of the software did not really require much improved hardware. That made the transition from Windows Vista to Windows 7 much easier and even today upgrading to a new operating system is not that difficult.

“Windows 7 was first launched in 45-core Intel Core processors named” Yorkfield “(desktop computer) and” Penryn “(mobile), which debuted in 2008,” LiftrCloud’sTeich explained.

“The 45nm Core i5 processor ‘Lynfield’ (desktop) was introduced simultaneously with Windows 7, just like the 45nm Core i7 processor ‘Clarksfield’ (mobile),” he told theinfovalley.

The “optimum point” for Intel Core processors at the time was quad-core for mobile and desktop devices, while the central clock frequency ranges for all those processors started at 2.3 GHz and exceeded 3 GHz.

“A Core i5 ‘Skylake’ desktop processor of the current generation has a basic frequency of 2.6 GHz at 3.6 GHz and two dual core cores with four threads are still a good place,” Teich added.

Nowadays, the Mobile Core i3 versions have basic frequencies from 2.3 GHz to 3.6 GHz using two dual-core cores.

“We haven’t gotten faster clock speeds in ten years, except at the top of Intel’s product lines,” said Teich. “AMD couldn’t do better because physics is physical, we have accelerations due to architectural improvements, but in reality Moore’s law is dead, dead, dead.”

Old PC with new operating system
Because we have not seen a breakthrough in hardware, older PCs can be updated in most cases, something that Microsoft initially offered for free.

“In terms of hardware, any system that can run Windows 7 can run Windows 10,” Kay said.

“That part is simple and I have updated many older systems,” he added.

Although the window to update Windows for free is closed, Kay said that it is not that difficult and that it can still be easily achieved.

“The Windows 10 updater is basically looking for a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license, and that’s it,” Kay explained.

“Windows 7 is designed to work well with everything that Windows Vista runs on, so it took no more computing power than was available a few years before the launch,” Teich added.

In addition, Windows 10 is designed to work properly on any PC that can run Windows 7 to rely on updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8.

“It was not a difficult goal because Windows 10 focused on an easy-to-install and easy-to-update architecture, improved security and improved the user experience, which did not require any processor speed,” said Teich. “I personally installed Windows 10 on at least four of my Windows 7 era laptops and my own media PC, and they all worked well.”

Security Concerns

The most important reason to update from Windows 7 is still the security issue. Users can even be at risk with Microsoft’s ESU.

“It is already known that criminals cook things in their laboratories,” warned Pinhasi of MonsterCloud.

“Once they have those tools, they can exploit previous versions of Windows to make billions of them,” he added.

Ransomware, such as the WannaCry cryptoworm, which went to Windows machines in May 2017, could be unleashed after Microsoft discontinued support for Windows 7.

That specific ransomware was propagated through EternalBlue, an exploit developed by the National Security Agency of the United States.

“The hackers have dropped a package that has been stolen from the NSA, and the hackers can use something similar,” Pinhasi warned.

The best course of action is not to invest in Microsoft ESU, but to update the operating system and, if necessary, even PC hardware.

“It is time to move on, the disappearance of a popular operating system is difficult, but inevitable,” says Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics.

“Windows 7 stopped the Windows flagship operating system seven years ago, so it’s time to upgrade, and a $ 179 laptop at Best Buy runs Windows 10 and is probably more powerful than anything that was done in 2012,” he told theinfovalley.

“There is no reason why anyone with Windows 7 should go ahead with it, except pure sheer stubbornness, and it’s not that you have to learn a new operating system,” Teich added.

Of course, not only individual users should pay attention to these warnings.

“Companies should leave Windows 7 as quickly as possible,” Kay warned.

“Security attacks are becoming more frequent, more sophisticated and more automated, and don’t assume that just because you’re a small fish, they won’t come after you,” he explained. “Small companies are sometimes used as an attack vector against larger companies, and if companies have to change their PC base once every 10 years, that’s a good thing – employees can even be more productive.”

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