1/4 of PCs Running Win7 Despite Security Risks

John Lister's picture

More than one in four computers are running an unsupported version of Windows according to the latest monthly estimates. Around one in 80 machines are still running Windows XP, which was first released 19 years ago.

The stats, spotted by TechRadar, come from Net Market Share. That's a company which provides statistics and analysis to websites. As part of this work, it's able to track the operating systems of sites that visit its clients sites. (Source: techradar.com)

Net Market Share believes it has data from enough sites to make reliable estimates for the Internet as a whole. If anything, its estimates for older systems may be low as it's possible users of such machines spend less time online than average.

Windows 10 Used On Most Computers

As you'd expect, Windows 10 tops the list, being used on 56.42 percent of machines. That's followed by Windows 7 on 26.03 percent, with OS X 10.15 (the latest fully-released Apple Mac system) on 3.49 percent.

Other versions of Windows include 8.1 on 3.21 percent, XP on 1.26 percent , 8 on 0.57 percent and poor old Vista on 0.12 percent. (Source: netmarketshare.com)

It's not necessarily a surprise that XP is ahead of a couple of late releases as Vista's poor reception certainly put off some people from upgrading at the time. It's possible that those users then either got out of the habit of upgrading, or found their machines weren't high-spec enough to meet either the minimum or recommended levels for Windows 7.

Security Threats Serious

The real concern is security: Every version of Windows before 8.1 has now left the Extended Support period where Microsoft issues patches for known bugs. Very occasionally it will override this policy for a particularly serious threat, but there's no doubt that older machines are vulnerable to numerous attacks. Windows XP in particular is extremely dangerous to run because all programs automatically run with administrator access by default.

Some possible reasons for still running XP could include an unwillingness to pay for an upgrade; running very old machines that don't have suitable specs for later systems; running older or specialists apps that don't easily work with later systems; and organizations having bureaucracy that makes upgrades difficult.

Related: Is Using Windows XP Really That Dangerous?

What's Your Opinion?

Do you or somebody you know still run unsupported versions of Windows? What reasons make sense to run Windows 7 or earlier? Should people be concerned about the security risks?

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Average: 5 (7 votes)


doulosg's picture

One-in-four is a surprising statistic! But it's got me to wondering if the industry is addressing these security threats at the wrong level. Is it, or would it be, possible to catch malware within the internet infrastructure itself? In the same way that URL's are resolved into IP addresses, could content itself be checked for malware payloads? Or do the individual packets of data with their individual routing make that an impractical if not impossible idea?

Draq's picture

I admit that I used a computer with vista until Dropbox dropped (haha) support for it in 2018. This is mostly because I hate replacing something if it's still usable. A lot of people hated Vista, but it never gave me any trouble until the end when Windows Update started lagging the whole machine for 24 hours or more. Never did figure out why that happened either. So, I skipped Windows 7 and 8/8.1 entirely, and went right to a new computer with Windows 10. I knew I would have to go to 10 eventually.

buzzallnight's picture

8 sucked
8.1 sucked
10 sucks

I know this is going to come as a great surprise to you and M$
This is especially bad news for M$ because
mostly what they produce is new user interfaces that suck!

Then they say well you need to upgrade because of the security risk
ALL M$ products are SECURITY RISKS!!!!!!
If you are worried about software security you should not be using M$ software!!!!!!!!!

Now most of M$'s patches cause more problems than they solve and
M$ is doing about 130 patches a month
if software stability is important to you at all
you should be running Win 7 the last stable product that M$ has!

M$ software has so many holes in it that all the governments of the world keep a list of bugs that are not reported including OUR GOVERNMENT!!!!!!!!!!
A few years ago one of our "intelligence" agencies got hacked by hackers and they got a big list of unreported bugs from M$ software.
So basically nobody gives a shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Not M$ and not our government!
So realize that your computer is kind of like a screen door on a submarine
and don't put anything important on it.
Don't use your real name.
Don't give out your real address.
Only use one computer for anything to do with money and don't use that computer for anything else.
I don't like encryption or VPNs because of the performance hit but they probably are a good idea.
Hopefully Russia or China will come out with a good operating system some day.

ouray03_14013's picture

Have "they" ever considered that there are elderly computer users who are comfortable with an older operating system and unable to learn a new one? I have a 93-year old parent who loves to work on her computer, digitizing photos, surfing the 'net, and emailing... but learning the quirks of a new operating system is beyond her.

jbuck011's picture

On top of all the confusion learning new Operating systems we've got all these colicky messed up f'n updates to deal with. I payed hard currency for my machine so some code jockey from messedupsoft could literally turn it into an unrecognizable piece of confusion able screw ups.

swreynolds's picture

I still run Windows 7. I'll change it to Windows 10 when Chrome won't run with it anymore (June '21), or when I can't get around the limitations for the X570 motherboard (like many motherboard devices won't work with Win7). I figure that my choices are: Run Windows 7 and hope I can fend off the bad guys, or run Windows 10 knowing that the bad guys are already built in.

nospam_5346's picture

My take on Microsoft’s strategy is this. Over the various editions they made some good changes under the hood such as 64 bit support and support for more RAM.

However, few, if anyone, actually notice under the hood changes so they constantly redesigned the GUI to convince users they were getting something new that they could see. Which meant learning new ways of doing the same thing and often making it more difficult.

I finally reluctantly upgraded to Windows 10 from 7. I’m hesitant to upgrade my wife’s Windows 7 laptop because if it goes sideways I’ll never live it down. However, I would have stayed with Windows 7 forever if it had been possible. It is by far the best version of Windows in my opinion. Windows 10 added some nice stuff under the hood, but the GUI sucks. An example is dividing up the settings between the app and control panel.

jamies's picture

so many corporate organisations use Office.
Apple systems were relatively expensive with users kept away from the OS.

Drive encryption in the ultimate version !
XP mode and similar access for most control usage.
well not supported anymore so, unless paying for support at multinational corporation executive salary levels don't expect Microsoft to fix the security chasms and malware invitations
Built into this "safe for users" software from Microsoft.

tic toc, tic, toc, ain't that a pretty blue !

- well I have not got a windows phone.

Well, with 2GB of RAM, I find that to start up anything the system goes into pagefile frenzy.
When I want to do work, spends loads of time doing full system searches indexing and malware checks.
Do I really want the text of the many ebooks on the removable USB drive indexed and the files malware checked just because I connected the drive.
Browser - OK, IE is fraught with malware openings (didn't MS say they cared for user security and were intent on producing safe to use software.
Edge - well it has so many glitches and lacks when compared to IE that I gave up on it after a week.
anyone got to save pages with animated GIF's, either in the old, or the new version, and how will I review the .mht files I have as web page saves.

And - OK - there is supposed to be a nice sandbox for the browser -
min system requirements - not only 16GB of RAM, but also a 4 core CPU !

Runs well on 1GB RAM, great for my system that is limited to 2GB RAM, and 2 cores
Browser and other 'suspect' software ran in a sandbox too.

And - hey, my Brother printer, the A3 scanner, and my camera work with it
No drivers for 10 - so I needed to get a new, more expensive per page printer, an A4 scanner (A3's were expensive) and I need a clip-on webcam rather than use the main digital camera or the (crevice inspection) camera on a wire.

Didn't need to buy new versions of the applications either/
and I could keep the OS stable over busy work periods by just not accepting updates except for malware signatures and emergency security fixes for the intrusion invitation chasms.

Yes - the OS and the Office running on MY PC was MY OS, and My copy of the apps, and under MY control.

So - a stable and almost common environment for all the users in the supported groups.

I do have the Offline update ISO images for XP and 7, as well as the offline update facility (Well the Microsoft update for 7 got to need the whole 2GB RAM for itself - no - you cannot spare RAM for the AV , I want it ALL, or I am going to play where's my page with the pagefile So - that's 40,000 pagefile read/writes per 1 module updated, come back day after tomorrow to restart me for the next phase!)

OK - for 10, I have found that I may need to download the ISO of the new version, and then install from that on a USB drive - well the update kept failing when using the online updte process.

Yes - I will probably be resurrecting another couple of XP systems and running them with NO internet access.
Hey - I can run browsers in a sandbox ! without needing a new system with 16GB RAM and a 4 core (i5? system)

Then again, I could go back to Linux - I remember it, if not that well.