Recent Windows 10 updates have fallen far short of the mark when it comes to a bug-free experience. The data deletion issue and massive rollback of version 1809, also known as the October 2018 update, and subsequent re-release that revealed further issues with iCloud and graphics driver support shows how stretched Microsoft’s Windows dev team really is – now that they’ve made a hard commitment to releasing two major updates every year.
If you’ve already installed the latest update for version 1809 (OS Build 17763.134 release on November 13), you may still be facing issues with older Radeon graphics cards using HD2000 and HD4000 GPUs. The worst of it is that Microsoft may well cease sending security updates for that particular configuration.
Windows 10 version 1607 went through a similar block with Intel Clover Trail processors, but in that instance Microsoft had already promised security updates even if users weren’t able to upgrade to a newer build.
This time, it’s possible that users who are still on version 1803 and can’t get the 1809 update will eventually stop receiving security updates. There’s no official word on that, but that could be the direction Microsoft takes.
One of the things we need to keep in mind here is that when it comes to driver support or software upgrades, older hardware is naturally pushed to the bottom of the priority list. That’s not unusual. As a matter of fact, that’s the core of Apple’s strategy of regularly dropping iOS upgrade eligibility for older iDevices. The fallout effect is that users with older devices are encouraged to keep upgrading their hardware every few years even though the device itself might be working just fine.
From a security standpoint, this issue pales in comparison with what will happen to Windows 7 users when the extended support window closes on Jan 14, 2020. That’s a little more than a year from now, but Windows 7 is still around 40% of the install base of desktop users who still haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 more than three years after the initial public release.
Much of that clinging-on to Windows 7 has to do with Windows 10 not supporting aging hardware, but it’s also because of app support – or lack of it – for non-UWP apps on Windows 10. In simple terms, a lot of developers of older desktop apps haven’t created the Windows App packages necessary to port to Windows 10.
Come 2020, Windows 7 users will no longer have extended support, and that will make them susceptible to security incidents once the updates stop coming. Mainstream support ended three years ago, so that means a significant user base is already exposed to cybersecurity risks.
From purely a security standpoint, Microsoft’s exclusion of older devices and hardware with the 1809 update could pose a major problem to users over the next year to two years. OS-level vulnerability offers a larger surface area for cyber attacks. It’s not like Windows password security where you can simply use a strong and unique password to protect your system and even reset it with password recovery software when you forget it. Flaws in older versions of any operating system that’s not supported with regular patches always represent a significant threat, especially when it can potentially affect a relatively massive user base of hundreds of millions of Windows 7 users.
Essentially, that’s exactly what Windows 10 users stuck on the 1803 update are going to experience down the road, and it’s going to happen again with future Windows 10 updates. As long as software keeps pulling ahead of hardware, this is a problem that’s going to keep growing. Let’s take an example from the Apple ecosystem. There are millions of first generation iPads that still work great but are restricted to iOS 5.1.1. That means they haven’t gotten any security updates for the past six years or more, since iOS 6 was released in June 2012.
This is not a problem we can afford to ignore. As emerging technologies like AI and VR/AR/MR keep pushing the boundaries of hardware capability and software performance, hundreds of millions of devices will continue to keep falling outside the security umbrella. This offers bad actors a growing pool of vulnerable, Internet-connected devices to target.
In addition, part of Windows 10 users complained password is no longer accepted when the update was completed. However, this could be fixed with the password reset disk or third-party apps like Tunesbro WinGeeker.
Security is one of the biggest concerns in this age of information. The more we achieve at the bleeding edge of technology, the more we leave behind in terms of unprotected devices. This debris littering our digital landscape is only going to get denser with time, and the recent problems with Windows 10 updates merely serve to reiterate the need to address this burgeoning issue.
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