Windows 7’s support deadline may expire in July, if you don’t apply this patch

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Unused computers could be about to lose official support from Redmond

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20 February 2019 | 0

Windows users still running Windows 7 already face a deadline of 14 January 2020, when Windows 7 support expires. But if you routinely block updates, break that habit briefly to allow an upcoming March patch. Otherwise, Windows 7 support will effectively stop in July.

Here’s what’s going on: Microsoft delivers updates using either the SHA-1 or SHA-2 encryption algorithm for security’s sake. But the company recently decided to phase out support for SHA-1 entirely in an upcoming security update, due to begin delivery on 12 March. That update will mark Windows’ shift to using the more secure SHA-2 hash algorithm. In July, Microsoft will begin delivering Windows 7 security updates using SHA-2. The upshot: if your Windows 7 PC hasn’t installed the 12 March update enabling SHA-2 support by 16 July, your Windows updates will effectively end.

Microsoft hasn’t released a name yet for the patch in question, but the solution is a simple one: Make sure Windows updates are enabled.

If you’re running Windows 10, don’t worry: Microsoft says its Windows 10 updates (for version 1709, 1803, and 1809, covering the most recent feature updates) are dual-signed with both SHA-1 and SHA-2. In June, those updates will shift to SHA-2 only – but you won’t need to do anything. The updates will shift hashing algorithms automatically, with no changes necessary on your part.

Microsoft has its own timeline for business users running WSUS: Apply the update Microsoft will deliver on 12 March by June 18. 

About 40% of the world’s PCs still run Windows 7, according to NetMarketshare, meaning that millions of users will run out of time by the beginning of next year. But if you’re someone who loves the Windows 7 environment you’ll want to make sure that Windows updates are enabled – otherwise, that deadline will arrive sooner than you think. 

IDG News Service

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