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We need to talk about the 14 percent of South Africans still using Windows 7

Last year, before the madness of COVID-19 hit the wide world, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7, meaning that the operating system no longer receives updates, even if they are critical security updates.

We get it though, Windows 7 was the follow up to widely hated Windows Vista and the successor to it – Windows 8 – left a sour taste in many mouths, ours included.

But the time to move has come and gone and it was shocking to us to learn that – according to anonymised operating system data from consenting Kaspersky Security Network users – 14 percent of PC users in South Africa are still using Windows 7.

Most concerning, however, is who is using this ancient operating system.

Kaspersky reports that among Windows 7 users include SMEs, very small businesses (VSBs) and consumers.

“It’s noteworthy, that 12 percent of VSBs still use the outdated OS and, particularly considering that they do not have dedicated IT staff responsible solely for cybersecurity – it makes it more important to ensure their OS is up-to-date. For now, businesses can still receive extended paid support for Windows 7, but this means extra expense – and this offering will not be available forever,” writes Kaspersky.

As many as 11 percent of SMEs are still using Windows 7.

Now, we are aware that Microsoft offers Windows 7 Extended Security Updates but these carry an additional cost and will only be provided until 10th January 2023.

For some businesses this cost may be less than migrating users to Windows 10 but as mentioned, there is a time limit on eventually shifting and what better time than now?

Thankfully, 79 percent of South Africans are using Windows 10.

For those still clinging to Windows 7, the time to move has come and gone, even if you think you’re incredibly safe and vigilant online.

“Even if you think you are vigilant and protected while online, updating your OS is an essential element of security that should not be overlooked, regardless of any third-party security solution’s presence,” explains senior product manager at Kaspersky, Oleg Gorobets.

“If OS is obsolete, it can no longer receive these critical updates. If your house is old and crumbling, there is no point to install a new door. It makes more sense to find a new home, sooner rather than later. The same attitude is needed when it comes to ensuring the security of the operating system you trust with your valuable data every day,” Gorobets adds.

One reason folks might be clinging to Windows 7 is the cost of Windows 10. A Windows 10 Home license costs a whopping R2 799 while Windows 10 Pro costs even more at R3 999.

That is a lot of money and we highly recommend looking for a notebook/desktop deal that includes the cost of the operating system in the price of the device.

You could also switch to Apple’s ecosystem or dive into the endless pit that is Linux. The point is there are options

There are of course corners of the internet where one can find Windows 10 license codes on the cheap but there is no guarantee that you will get a license code or that it will work so visit those corners at your own risk.

Whatever you do, please stop using Windows 7 especially if you are a business owner. Nobody wants another WannaCry on our hands.

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