The dangers of buying and gifting technology with antiquated software
Have you ever been gifted a laptop or mobile phone or have you ever given one to someone else? The chances are that if you have given or received an old device the operating system may not be up-to-date because it requires some kind of update. Some operating systems, like Windows 7, have been used so widely that they appear to be simple, easy to use systems for older users or for those who don’t want to have to learn completely new programs and software. However, as Microsoft discontinues support services for their most popular operating system, navigating updates can be challenging for inexperienced or new users creating huge online risks and giving them a terrible (and possibly expensive) technological headache.
Recently, Sarah’s family member bought a second-hand laptop online which unknown to them was out of date due to being installed with an unsupported operating system (Windows 7). When the family member ran into some difficulty using the laptop, due to a damaged touchpad, Sarah realised the devices was using unsupported software leaving the user unprotected. She tried to contact the company it was purchased from but was advised that the system was working when it was shipped. Sarah’s family member was left with a device not supported or secure and could be an expensive exercise to upgrade the device to meet today’s requirements.
Sarah’s story identifies large gaps in knowledge which can have serious financial implications for users and highlights a need for research before buying or subscribing to services. If you would like to hear more about Sarah’s story, please watch the vidieo about or click to view video content on YouTube.
Is there something wrong with the older operating systems?
Microsoft has discontinued support services for their older software, such as for Microsoft XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. The software will still operate on the computer but because support services are no longer being provided by Microsoft they are no longer receiving system and security updates or ‘bug’ fixes. This can make these antiquated versions more susceptible to hackers because ‘exploits’ in these operating systems will not be ‘patched’ by Microsoft leaving users’ online activity and personal information vulnerable.
What are the discontinued Microsoft operating systems?
Windows has discontinued support services for the following operating systems:
- Microsoft XP support services were discontinued on 8 April 2014
- Windows Vista mainstream support services were discontinued on 10 April 2012 and their extended support ended on 11 April 2017
- Windows 8 support services ended on 12 January 2012 and no longer receives security updates
- Windows 8.1 mainstream support services ended on 9 January 2018 and their extended support services are scheduled to end on 10 January 2023.
- Windows 7 support services ended on 14 January 2020 and their extended support services are scheduled to end in January 2023.
What does it mean if a Windows operating system is no longer supported?
If you currently use one of the above operating systems you are using an unsupported version which no longer receives software updates. These updates include feature and security updates which protect your computer from harmful viruses, spyware and malicious software which can steal your personal information.
Using older operating systems can make users a target for hackers because without up-to-date security software the operating systems are considered insecure. When hackers identify a weakness to exploit in one of the above operating systems they know that Microsoft is no longer releasing security patches to the exploitable weakness and anyone using these operating systems online becomes more vulnerable.
What is the current version of Microsoft software?
The current and recommended operating system is Windows 10. Windows 10 was released on 29 July 2015 and Microsoft offered the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free before ending their support services for Windows 7 on 14 January 2020.
I have an old operating system. Can I still update my computer or device to Windows 10?
Microsoft supported upgrades are no longer available to update software. However, it is still possible to upgrade older operating systems to Windows 10 but there may be costs involved for the user because the device’s internal workings may require replacing to ensure it can run the new system. For example, the hardware, like a graphics card, may be too old to run the features of the new software.
Large organisations can lengthen their transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 by incurring a charge for each license until 2023. This charge doubles in price each year, which indicates a strong encouragement to license holders (from Microsoft and their third party provider) to transition to Windows 10.
How can the Tec Exec help?
The Tec Exec offers a range of fundamental courses to ensure users can feel confident in their ability to use, understand and maintain their devices.
The Tec Exec is passionate about facilitating a space where users can learn how to make informed choices about their options so they are not vulnerable in an often confusing technological space.
If you would like further information about the courses currently being offered by The Tec Exec please see our contact page Contact us.