Whenever Microsoft discovers a potential flaw, they push out a small piece of code called a patch or an update to all Windows computers running a supported version. If set correctly, your computer will check if there are any updates or patches and install them automatically. In new versions, this usually happens when you’re shutting down or starting up and doesn’t impact your experience at all. Unfortunately, some users will manually disable or delay their updates or patches, creating a risky situation.
The update may include security patches, drivers or a simple tweak to address software bugs or issues with Windows. Sometimes they even include new features or applications to improve the stability of your operating system. They’re a good thing!
Not All Versions Get Updates
Some older operating systems are no longer support, which means unless there are extenuating circumstances, Microsoft won’t issue any new updates. Not a single one – generally, if cybercriminals discover a flaw after support ends, they’re free to exploit it. For example, Windows XP support ended in 2014, Windows Vista ended in April 2017 and Windows 7 ended in January 2020. The moment an operating system is retired it becomes a playground for cybercriminals.
It’s not just Microsoft walking away from these old versions either. Third party software like the Google Chrome browser will still work, but they’ve also stopped supporting old versions with crucial updates and patches. It might seem like everything is working fine because your antivirus isn’t pinging an alarm, but it just becomes a case of risk, upon risk, upon risk.
What To Do With Older Versions Of Windows
As much as you’re comfortable with your older version of Windows, each time you boot up you’re exposing your system, important files and entire network. It only takes one weak entry point in the chain to allow malware into all connected devices. That could mean your photos storage, media center or even smart appliances. It’s not worth it – if you’re running a version of Windows older than Windows 10, you need to update to a more modern operating system ASAP.
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