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Microsoft 365 patches for Windows 7 to end in 2023

By then you won't be able to install the suite on Windows 8.1

Microsoft has warned users clinging to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 that the end really is nigh.

Windows 7 went out of support in 2020, but Microsoft recognized that many enterprises were quite happy where they were. For a fee, it made Extended Security Updates (ESU) available, which would at least deal with security patches.

Released in 2009, Windows 7 outlived its successor Windows 8 but now the time has come to say goodbye. If Windows is your thing, Microsoft would be more than happy to direct you to 10 or 11. There are also plenty of alternatives out there these days, certainly when compared to 2009.

The other stick being wielded by the Windows vendor is the ubiquitous Microsoft 365 suite. With the Windows 7 ESU program gasping its last on January 10, 2023, along with support for Windows 8.1, Microsoft 365 apps running on the deprecated code (including Windows Server 2008 R2) will also stop receiving security updates.

"Additionally," said Microsoft, "new installations of Microsoft 365 Apps will be blocked on Windows 8.1 devices."

Microsoft has long used its app suite to prod customers toward supported platforms. In 2021, it yanked support for Internet Explorer before having a final attempt at killing off the browser a few short weeks ago.

Withdrawing security updates is a big deal. Microsoft's code has suffered from some nasty vulnerabilities over the years and the thought of the company cutting off security fixes might leave some administrators feeling faint. An April report by asset management platform Lansweeper showed Windows 7 still squatting on 4.7 percent of the PCs surveyed, although the still-in-support Windows 10 accounted for over 80 per cent.

Microsoft's announcement is a reminder that the clock is ticking for customers living in the past. It might have temporarily rolled back plans to block Office macros last week as well as emitting patches for the out-of-support Windows XP to dodge another WannaCry incident, but considering recent vulnerabilities, it would be a brave administrator who would play chicken over the end of security updates. ®

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