Microsoft labels Windows 7 'outdated' as it stumps for 10

Windows 7's retirement clock tick-tocks, shows 3 years of support left

Microsoft on Monday reminded customers running Windows 7 that they have just three years of support remaining, told them that the aged OS was "long outdated" and urged them to upgrade to Windows 10.

Windows 7 will exit what Microsoft calls Extended Support on Jan. 14, 2020; at that point, the company will stop all security updates.

Microsoft used the three-years-and-counting milestone to simultaneously denigrate Windows 7 and promote its successor. "Windows 7 is based on long-outdated security architectures," said Markus Nitschke, the head of Microsoft Germany, in a post to a German-language company blog, adding that the OS "does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments."

On the other hand, Nitschke continued, "with Windows 10, we offer our customers the highest level of security and functionality at the cutting edge."

The praise-the-new-denounce-the-old technique is as old as software, and one Microsoft has regularly applied. Three years ago, the company used some of the same tactics when it disparaged Windows XP, whose retirement was then quickly approaching, and trumpeted Windows 7 as its replacement. It repeated the claim, but with less effect, when it touted Windows 8 over 7 in 2012.

But Microsoft's call to abandon Windows 7 has been louder, a shout in comparison. Not only has the firm done the usual -- favored the new over the old -- but it has also significantly changed decades of practices thought inviolable, such as patching, when it eliminated reasons why enterprises stayed with Windows 7.

Other steps Microsoft's taken this cycle have been just as unprecedented. It gave away Windows 10 upgrades to millions of customers -- primarily consumers, but also businesses running Windows 7 Professional -- for a year. And although it eventually retreated from an aggressive deadline, Microsoft plans to support neither Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 after July 2018 on devices powered by Intel's newest Skylake silicon.

Microsoft's assertive, even zealous, push of Windows 10 may have multiple motivations. It may want customers, particularly enterprises, to avoid repeating the mad rush near the end of Windows XP's lifecycle. Or it might be aiming for a faster adoption tempo to monetize Windows 10's software-as-a-service model as soon as possible.

But while Microsoft has convinced more than a quarter of all Windows customers to take up 10, its efforts have been less successful in depressing the user share of Windows 7. According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Windows 7 powered 53% of all Windows personal computers last month. That's a decline of 14 percentage points from Windows 7's peak in June 2015, but nowhere near the pace necessary to push the OS to extinction within three years.

Windows 7's current user share, however, is less than Windows XP's at the same point prior to its retirement, showing some progress. In April 2011 -- three years before being pushed off the support list -- XP accounted for nearly 60% of all Windows PCs.

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Gregg Keizer

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