Here is what happens when you try to install and run unsupported browsers on Windows 7
Microsoft ended support for its Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 operating systems on January 10, 2023. End of support means that the company will not release security updates or any other type of update for the operating system anymore.
Browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge will no longer be supported either on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 devices. Chrome 109 and Edge 109 are the last supported versions, but what does that actual mean? And what about other browsers, such as Firefox?
Note: the following test was run on a virtual machine.
The latest supported versions
The latest supported versions for Windows 7 and 8.1 are Google Chrome 109 and Microsoft Edge 109. These run and install fine. Both browsers display an end of support notification at the top. It can be dismissed for the session, but it is displayed each time the browser is started.
Another issue that users will notice is that updating has been disabled in both browsers. When you visit the update pages, chrome://settings/help in Chrome and edge://settings/help in Edge, you receive an out of support message and no option to run a check for updates.
Firefox, on the other hand, works without any of those issues currently. Mozilla has not yet announced an official end of support for Windows 7 and 8.1.
Installing development versions
The development channels of Chrome and Edge have versions that are not supported anymore on Windows 7 and 8.1. These are versions 110 and newer. There is no Stable version that is not supported right now, but this will change with the February release of Chrome 110 Stable and Microsoft Edge 110 Stable.
Google is making it difficult already to download Chrome Beta, Dev or Canary installers on the unsupported platforms. Neither the web installers nor the Chrome offline installers are provided when the download pages are opened on a Windows 7, and likely also a Windows 8.1, device. Microsoft Edge and Firefox can be downloaded without issues.
Here is what happens when you try to install these development editions on the unsupported versions of Windows.
Chrome 110 Beta installs fine, but it throws a kernel issue when you try to run it. The error message was not new, and it is possible that the virtual machine had something to do with it.
The installation of Chrome 111 Dev fails with an odd error message. It states that Google Chrome requires Windows 7 or higher. It is possible that Google has not changed the error message yet.
Installation of Chrome Canary fails with the error message "no update is available".
Microsoft Edge threw another error message on the test system. The offline installer for Edge Dev displayed a prompt stating that a problem was detected with the Windows installer package.
All Firefox channels installed and ran just fine on the Windows 7 system.
Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and likely many other Chromium-based browsers will stop working on Windows 7 once the stable versions reach Chromium 110. The browser makers won't provide installers anymore, and if installers are copied from other devices or mirrors, they will not run or the installed browser will refuse to run.
Firefox, on the other hand, does not have any restrictions right now. These may be introduced at a later point in time, once Mozilla makes a decision regarding end of support. For now, Firefox is one, if not the, best option to run a browser on Windows 7 or 8.1.
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