Half of PC applications are out of date

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New research from Avast has revealed that more than half (55 percent) of PC applications installed worldwide are out-of-date, leaving users and their personal data vulnerable to security risks.

The firm's PC Trends Report 2019 (opens in new tab) found that users are making themselves more vulnerable to hackers by not implementing security patches and keeping outdated versions of popular applications on their PCs with Adobe Shockwave (96 percent), VLC Media Player (94 percent) and Skype (94 percent) being the applications where updates are most frequently neglected.

To compile its report, Avast used anonymised and aggregated data from 163m devices across the globe and the firm also discovered that Windows 10 (opens in new tab) is now installed on 40 per cent of all PCs globally as Microsoft's latest OS is fast approaching the 43 per cent share held by Windows 7.

However, almost one in six (15 percent) of all Windows 7 users and one in ten (9 percent) of all Windows 10 users worldwide are running older versions which are no longer supported by Microsoft.

Shift to mobile computing

Avast's President Ondrej Vlcek explained how users regularly update to new smartphones but are keeping their PCs longer, saying:

“Most of us replace our smartphone regularly, but the same cannot be said for our PCs. With the average age of a PC now reaching six years old, we need to be doing more to ensure our devices are not putting us at unnecessary risk. With the right amount of care, such as cleaning our hardware’s insides using cleaners, optimization and security products, PCs will be safe and reliable for even longer.” 

Laptops, tablets and 2-in-1 PCs running Windows have grown in popularity as PC users now favour mobility over raw power with 67 per cent choosing laptops and tablets over desktops. The shift to mobile PCs has also impacted the most installed applications and Google Chrome jumped to the top of the list in 2018 increasing its share of installs from 79 per cent to 91 per cent in the last 12 months.

The other most popular PC applications were Adobe Acrobat Reader (60 percent), WinRar (48 percent), Microsoft Office (45 percent) and Mozilla Firefox (42 percent%). Despite the fact that Microsoft Office (opens in new tab) was the fourth most used application worldwide, it is also one of the most out-of-date apps and 15 per cent of users still have the Enterprise 2007 version installed even though it is no longer officially supported.

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.