[German]Windows 10 is now released since 1,5 years, but Windows 7 still runs on a majority of desktop systems. Now Microsoft Germany announced in a press release “the end of life” for Windows 7 in three years (January 14, 2020) and recommend Windows 10. Here are a few details and thoughts.
I’ve published a German blog post Microsofts “Tschüss Windows 7”-Ankündigung … last Saturday, January 14, 2020, exactly three years from now, before Windows 7 reaches “the end of life”. This article was triggered by a press release An early Goodbye to Windows 7! Support endet in drei Jahren (Google cache) from Microsoft Germany, where they are pointing out, that it’s just 3 years until support for Windows 7 ends. That’s not a new fact and can be read within Windows lifecycle fact sheet. A few days ago neowin.net and other US sites published also articles about that topic and cited parts from German press release.
Side note: Microsoft has pulled it’s original press release text, dated January 13, 2017 – I’ve linked above the cached version. As Woody Leonhard noted here, the article has been republished twice here (a revised edition) and here.
What Microsoft recommends
Markus Nitschke, Head of Windows at Microsoft Germany, was cited in the German press release with:
Today, Windows 7 does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs.
Windows XP seems a night mare to Microsoft, because this operating system is still widely in use, although support has ended in 2014. So Microsoft intend to avoid this situation for Windows 7, and and advise business users to think about the Windows 7 end of life – which is still ok. Within the press release, Microsoft mentioned also, that Windows 10 has taken the lead over Windows 7 – according to statcounter – in January 2017 – but only in Germany.
Microsoft recommends Windows 10, as an operating system “offering our customers the highest level of security and functionality at the cutting edge”. Microsoft also wrote, that “Windows 7 is based on out dated security architectures” and “business customers who use Windows 7 to host sensible data for another 3 years are running a high risk of cyber attacks”. Sound pretty scary, and it suggests, that companies should switch immediately to Windows 10.
And the reality check
Microsoft always cite the security aspect as an advantage of Windows 10. Of course, Windows 10 comes with many improvements in security. But I like to point to a CERT document from Carnegie Mellon University CERT, published in November 2016 (see also this ZDNET article). This article shows, that Windows 7 + Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) is far more secure then Windows 10 without EMET.
(Source: Will Dorman, CERT)
Will Dormann from CERT has published the table shown above and pointed to some weaknesses in Microsoft’s arguments “Windows 10 is more secure”.
“Windows 10 does indeed provide some nice exploit mitigations. The problem is that the software that you are running needs to be specifically compiled to take advantage of them.
Well, the intension of this article was to keep EMET alive (because Microsoft intends to retire EMET in July 2018). But this should be noted, if someone says “Windows 7 is insecure, switch to Windows 10”.
Also Microsoft’s tech people are not “done with Windows 7”. A few days ago I’ve published the article How to create a Windows 7 SP refresh media. The article is based on a Technet article freshly published a few days ago, showing how to create an updated Windows 7 refresh media. And I have published the article No, you haven’t just a month to buy OEM-Windows 7 PCs … in October 2016 – that pointed out, that OEMs are still able to ship Windows 7 Pro machines till October 2017. The market obviously demands Windows 7 machines.
There is on argument from Microsoft that should be kept in mind: Newer hardware architectures based on Kaby Lake or similar CPUs may be not supported by vendors with Windows 7 drivers. But currently there are many hardware with Windows 7 driver support.
What’s the problem with Windows 10
Speaking for business customers, I feel, there is no Win-Win situation for users switching from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The ‘Windows as a service’ approach seems to me as a disaster. Windows 10 has been released in July 2015 as RTM. Since then we have had Version 1511 and Version 1607 – each of them brought many bugs and serious trouble.
We have cases, where software, hardware or drivers becomes non-compatible after a feature upgrade. Also features like auto-update brought administrators into serious trouble. And a lot of the features (Cortana, Apps, 3D, Gaming etc.), buried in Windows 10, are not worth for business users. Also it seems, that only volume license customers with Windows 10 Enterprise get the “full advantage” of group policies (see Microsoft axes Group Policies in Windows 10 Pro version 1607), LTSB and so on. Thinking about that, I don’t see a serious advantage for Windows 10, as long, as this operating system is “marketing driven and doesn’t fit the needs of business users”.
Additional Note: I received several comments from German users in my German blog post, telling me, that updates are no problem in bigger organisations using WSUS or SCCM. They are testing all cumulative updates and blocking driver updates. Only after excessive tests updates are released to production machines. Ok, I need to confess that I don’t have experiences in that field. But many SoHo users doesn’t have an IT team and WSUS/SCCM to test and deploy updates. So my position expressed here, hasn’t changed.
I was using Microsoft operating systems since 1983 (MS-DOS 1.x) and I wrote at least one book about each of those products since MS-DOS 2.x [except Windows 1.x, 2.x and NT 3.x]. I’ve also experimented since 1993 with Linux (0.x onwards). But machines with Windows XP and then Windows 7 has been a solid foundation for my SoHo business.
I’m running Windows 10 since early betas on test machines – but Microsoft’s CEO clearly says “cloud first, mobile first” – they are moving away from Windows. Windows 10 isn’t what I need as a SoHo business user. It’s focused on things Microsoft’s marketing identified as “good for the companies revenue”. So now I’m investigating how to move my SoHo machines to Linux till 2020 and have virtual machines with Windows guests for tasks that I can’t do under Linux (some bookkeeping/tax related things probably) – and for blogging of course. For more than 20 Years I could not imagine that this would happen. What’s your opinion about that matter?