As Windows 10 approaches, Microsoft will no longer offer free help and support for the ageing but still popular Windows 7.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Happily that doesn't mean your computer is going to automatically break or stop working, but it does mean Microsoft will no longer offer free help and support if you have problems with your Windows 7 software from this point on. No new features will be added either.
Windows 7 was released in 2009. It sold over 100 million copies in six months and remains hugely popular. More stable than predecessor Windows Vista and more familiar than its radically redesigned successor Windows 8, version 7 is still estimated to be running half of the world's PCs.
As of today Windows 7 has moved from mainstream support -- free help for everyone -- to extended support, which means Microsoft will charge for help with the software. That will end in 2020, when Microsoft turns out the light on Windows 7 for good.
If you're worried about security, Microsoft will continue to patch security issues, so if you do stick with Windows 7 your computer shouldn't suddenly become vulnerable to hackers targeting the software.
The next generation of Microsoft's venerable operating system is Windows 10 -- they're skipping 9, for some reason -- which is due in the second half of this year. Microsoft is set to make an announcement about Windows 10 a week from now on 21 January, so stick with us to find out what Gates' mates have up their sleeves. In the meantime, check out our video for an early look at the next generation of Windows:
Watch this: Let's take a first look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview