Skip to main content

Microsoft is killing off Windows 7, but Microsoft Security Essentials lives on

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Audio player loading…

While Windows 7 reaches its End of Life stage on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will continue to provide updates for the Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) app, which is the built-in antivirus program included in Windows 7.

This is despite Microsoft itself releasing an updated FAQ on Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 (opens in new tab), which says that “your Windows 7 computer is not protected by MSE after January 14, 2020. MSE is unique to Windows 7 and follows the same lifecycle dates for support.”

This made it pretty clear that MSE won’t protect Windows 7 users once Windows 7 enters its End of Life, which is when Microsoft will no longer support or update the aging operating system, but Microsoft seems to have changed its mind.

Microsoft Security Essentials will continue to be updated

In an AMA (ask me anything) session held on the Microsoft Community Forums (opens in new tab), Woody Leonhard, a columnist for Computerword (opens in new tab), asked: “Can you confirm that Microsoft will really, for sure, cut off Microsoft Security Essentials malware signature updates after January 14? Even if you’re paying for Extended Support?”

In response, Mike Cure, a Microsoft engineer, replied: “MSE will continue to receive signature updates after Jan. 14.”

Cure also pointed to a passage in the FAQ that says: “Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) will continue to receive signature updates after January 14, 2020. However, the MSE platform will no longer be updated.”

Now, as Woody pointed out, this is a bit confusing, as it seems to contradict other parts of the FAQ, which prompted Cure to promise that “I'll get [the ESU FAQ] corrected as soon as possible.”

 So, this is reasonably good news for Windows 7 users, as it means that after January 14, your PC won’t suddenly become at risk to viruses if you’re using MSE. With MSE continuing to get signature updates, it should be able to identify new threats as they emerge.

However, it’s still not a good idea to continue to use an unsupported operating system, and we recommend switching from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (or a Linux alternative) as soon as possible.

  • Why not upgrade your laptops as well? Here’s our pick of the best laptops in the world

Via Computerworld (opens in new tab)

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Computing and Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Computing and Entertainment, looking after two of the best, and most exciting, channels on the site. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made. He's also a huge film and TV fan and Marvel geek, and his favorite recent film is Dune.