Google and its Chrome browser will reportedly be giving Windows 7 users a bit of a reprieve after Microsoft officially stops supporting the OS for non-enterprise users as of January 14. That's because the company plans to provide support for its browser a full year and six months after that. So Chrome, at the very least, will continue to be safe to use even as the edge browser and OS itself isn't anymore.
In fact, that's actually the minimum that the search giant plans to provide support. The company says that it will extend support until at least July 15, 2021. That should mean that all of the updates to Chrome, including the three that are currently scheduled for February 4, March 17, and April 28, will arrive on time too.
How does this keep Windows users safer?
Chrome's ability to keep Windows 7 users safer than they might otherwise be could easily depend on whether or not Google continues pushing updates. It almost certainly will but there's no real guarantee either.
That's because Google hasn't explicitly said those updates will arrive. Regardless, the search giant's focus has squarely centered on privacy and security over the past several updates. That includes not only the recent addition of a built-in password protection system. It also includes deeper changes to site isolation, changes that prevent malicious redirects, and other security bolsters.
Setting aside work to ensure privacy and phishing protections, Google is also looking to make the entire web safer. It's doing that by pushing away from legacy TLS and toward DNS-over-HTTPS secured connections. As of Chrome 79, that's actually being tested on a small subset of users. Starting this month, the company has planned to start marking sites using legacy TLS as "not secure" too.
All of that means that not only is Google actively improving Chrome and the way it protects users. It's also empowering users to be more aware of how safe their browsing experience is. So, even if Windows is less secure, using Chrome will make it just that much more secure for users still on Windows 7.
Google isn't advocating Chrome as a permanent solution for Windows 7
The continuing support of Chrome should, under a plethora of circumstances, help Windows 7 users stay a bit safer. But Google is suggesting that Enterprise users should make the move to Windows 10 in the interim. As explained by Microsoft, PCs running Windows 7 will keep working but without any updates on the underlying operating system. That includes security updates.
As Windows is currently the largest of the operating systems, it has the widest surface area for attacks. While a significant number of those stem from downloads via the web and browser, not every attack does. And not every attack is stoppable using Chrome alone.
Windows Enterprise Edition users can pay for extended support. In fact, that can be extended up to the year 2023 in some cases. But Google Chrome isn't going to stop all attacks or even necessarily most of them. So a full system upgrade to Windows 10 is probably the best option in the long run.