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Google To Support Chrome on Windows 7 Through 2021

Google plans to support its Chrome browser on Windows 7 until "at least July 15, 2021," a year-and-a-half after Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7.

As announced on Friday, Google's intent is to "fully support Chrome on Windows 7 for a minimum of 18 months from Microsoft's End of Life date." That end-of-support date for Windows 7 is slated for Jan. 14, 2020.

After that date, Microsoft will no longer issue free patches for the 10-year-old Windows 7 OS, including security updates. While Windows 7 installations will continue to function after the Jan. 14 date, the general notion is that the OS has fallen out of support and is potentially insecure to use, since OS software vulnerabilities won't get patched.

Google's announcement acknowledged that risk, stating that "running an OS outside of official support can leave organizations vulnerable to potential security threats." However, it still claimed that running Chrome on Windows 7 after its end-of-support date will "continue to provide built-in security capabilities that help keep users safe while on the web."

Those built-in Chrome browser capabilities include:

  • Safe Browsing, which warns users when they visit sites deemed dangerous or when they attempt to download dangerous files.
  • Site Isolation, which uses "sandbox" technology to limit what Web site processes can do.
  • Advanced password and phishing protections, which offer warnings about stolen passwords and unsafe sites (including phishing sites), while adding a password manager.

Organizations can also purchase a Chrome Enterprise upgrade to add protections via Chrome Enterprise policies. Policies can also be set using Google's Chrome Browser Cloud Management service. Group Policy additionally can be used via Google's enterprise bundle of templates.

Google is touting its "fast update cycles" for Chrome as amounting to "better protection from vulnerabilities, especially for enterprises taking advantage of automatic updates."

Unmentioned was Microsoft's Extended Security Updates (ESU) program option for Windows 7. It permits OS patch support to continue for up to three years beyond the Jan. 14 end-of-support date. ESU participants have to renew ESU support each year if they can't upgrade.

Google's promised 18 months of support for Chrome on Windows 7 will end about midway through Year 2 of Microsoft's ESU program.

Internet Explorer browser users are also affected by Windows 7's end-of-support milestone. The Internet Explorer 11 browser is "the last major version of Internet Explorer," and its support is tied to Windows 7's Jan. 14 end-of-support date, a Microsoft FAQ page explained.

However, even though IE 11 support soon will be ending, Microsoft curiously is supporting its new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser on Windows 7 as an alternative. The Chromium-based Edge browser is expected to reach "general availability" commercial release on Jan. 15, 2020, one day after Windows 7's end of support.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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