Microsoft has kicked off its three-year countdown for Windows 7's end of extended support, warning enterprises they'll pay dearly for sticking with the platform's outdated security compared with Windows 10.
Enterprises can of course delay upgrading until January 13, 2020, when extended support ends for the 2009 OS and it no longer receives patches, unless the customer is paying for a pricey Microsoft Custom Support Agreement.
However, as Microsoft has warned, Windows 7, which moved to extended support in 2015, is outdated and will drive up operating costs from remediating malware attacks that wouldn't penetrate Windows 10 systems.
Windows 7 "does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments", said Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany.
"As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs," he added.
The message came as Microsoft published research showing that Windows 10 Anniversary Update in-built security could neutralize two recent zero-day exploits, even without the patches required to protect earlier versions of Windows.
Windows 10's modern security features touted by Microsoft include Windows Hello biometric login, its AppContainer sandboxing technology, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which will gain new features in the upcoming Creators Update.
Adding to the pressure to upgrade, enterprise organizations on Windows 7 soon won't have the additional zero-day protection offered by EMET or the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit since 2009. Microsoft in November extended EMET's end of life from January 2017 to July 31, 2018.
While newer tools make Windows 7 less difficult for enterprise customers to migrate from than XP, Microsoft is still urging corporate customers to begin the transition three years out from Windows 7's end of support, stressing they face "enormous dangers" if they don't.