Microsoft Kills Support for Windows Vista

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While expected for some time, Microsoft this week ended support for its Windows Vista operating systems. The change entered into effect on April 11, the very same day Microsoft began rolling out Windows 10 Creators Update to its users.

Windows Vista has been receiving software updates for the past 10 years, but Microsoft has decided that the time has come to move on.

“As of April 11, 2017, Windows Vista customers are no longer receiving new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates from Microsoft,” the company notes on its support website.

Data coming from netmarketshare shows that the move would impact only 0.72% of all desktop users out there, but that is still a significant figure, considering that many of the Windows Vista computers are used within business environments.

A November report from Duo Security revealed that 65% of the security company’s clients’ Windows users were using Vista. The threat this poses to enterprise networks is amplified by the continuous use of an even older operating system within business environments: Windows XP. The platform currently has 7.44% of the desktop operating system market, yet it hasn’t received updates since 2014.

Now that support has ended, Windows Vista will continue to work as before, only that it will become increasingly vulnerable to security risks and malware. What’s more, Internet Explorer 9, which runs on Vista, isn’t supported either, meaning that users are exposed to additional threats when browsing the web using this application.

“Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter more apps and devices that do not work with Windows Vista,” Microsoft says.

In fact, major browser makers have already announced their end of support for the platform. Mozilla revealed in December 2016 that it would no longer support Vista and XP starting this year, while Google’s Chrome 49 was the last browser iteration released for the two platforms. Gmail isn’t offering support for the operating systems either, after it dropped support for Chrome 53 and older versions in February.

To further determine users to move away from Windows Vista, Microsoft also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on this platform. Antimalware signature updates will continue to arrive for installed instances for a limited time, after which users will remain exposed to newer threats.

“Please note that Microsoft Security Essentials (or any other antivirus software) will have limited effectiveness on PCs that do not have the latest security updates. This means that PCs running Windows Vista will not be secure and will still be at risk for virus and malware,” Microsoft notes.

Related: Ongoing Use of Windows Vista, IE8 Pose Huge Enterprise Threat

Related: Gmail Drops Support for Chrome on Windows XP and Vista

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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