Recent findings from data collected from Kaspersky Security Network users reveal that about 22% of Windows users still use end-of-life Windows 7 OS. It is worth noting that software vendors such as Microsoft rarely release security updates and patches for their OS’ after new launches and upgrades, thus creating security risks for users. New software and applications released for the Windows environment might only be compatible with the new OS, proving an impediment for users who want to download and use this software on their PCs.
Despite all efforts by Microsoft to get users to migrate to its new systems, there still exists a proportion of users who prefer to retain their old operating systems. This implies that in 2021, there are still Windows 95, 2000, XP, and Windows 7 and 8 users. What have studies further revealed about who these users are and why they maintain these legacy systems?
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What Are The Implications of not upgrading?
Microsoft, like many other software vendors, always provides an option to not upgrade their OS with new launches. Not upgrading is discouraged as these vendors always aim at full onboarding to maximize the ROI on investment and always to patch up all security vulnerabilities on their ends. Part of the reason that these upgrades are made by software vendors is to eliminate vulnerabilities from hackers and other grievous attackers on their systems. Newer software releases are better protected from such vulnerabilities, while infiltration attacks can be manifested through end-users who haven’t upgraded but are still connected to the Windows ecosystem.
On the opposite end of that spectrum, end users who haven’t upgraded are at a higher risk of attack and malware once security support for these older legacy systems is withdrawn. Attacks include malware attacks that can spy on your data, ransomware that can capture sensitive data and hold it for ransom, and other types of attacks that can compromise the integrity of your PC microphone or webcam. Thus, upgrading to the latest version of software such as Windows is always advised, although even that may come with its challenges (here’s why you shouldn’t upgrade to Windows 11 just yet). So why do some users who could be running into the tens of millions still choose these older software versions?
- End-of-Life Systems
A majority of that 22% number who still retain their older Windows software is businesses running end-of-life systems. Small and medium businesses and in some cases even larger businesses choose end-of-life systems that come with, say 10-year licenses because their business processes should run uninterrupted, or because there are other applications in their business ecosystem that are reliant on the consistency of these older Windows systems. For example, some businesses run Windows 2000 commercial grade servers that run RAM as low as 0.5 GB and take up less than 1 GB of memory space. It is a low-cost, robust and reliable option that serves its purpose with proper firewalls and administrative systems.
Microsoft also goes the extra mile to retain security patches for these niche end-of-life systems, presumably because these users who are mainly businesses are willing to pay more for enterprise installations. Such businesses probably have external security measures to beef up their systems.
- The Availability Of Multiple Inexpensive Computers
PCs and computers, in general, are not as expensive as they used to be. This means that users can afford to maintain their old systems on these older PCs and install new Windows software on their new PCs. The reasons for doing this are varied. Some games, for example, can only run older Windows versions, otherwise one would need an emulator to run them on newer OS versions. Windows itself provides compatibility mode that allows the OS to emulate an older version of itself. But this method isn’t always full-proof and depends on the application or software the user may be trying to run (this is how to run older games on new Windows versions).
- Trust Issues (Maybe?)
Some people may be able to afford multiple PCs to run various OS versions. Some folks can’t, and these have the option to upgrade the OS. Some people, especially professionals in the tech industry (ironically) who can afford newer PCs or upgrades prefer to maintain their old OS’. These people are the most likely to maintain their older systems, or run multiple systems concurrently. There have been multiple complaints of vulnerabilities with newer systems such as Windows 11. Thus, some folks may just choose to wait it out until every security issue is fixed. Others find that upgrades and patches make their systems or some applications unstable.
Upgrading Is Always The Best Option
There are myriad reasons why one would choose to upgrade the Windows OS or not. if you do have a single PC and are afraid of losing your data or getting hacked, choosing an upgrade is always the safest option.