If you’ve been using your PC for a long time, you might well have resisted the siren song of a newer version of Windows. Perhaps you skipped Windows 8 and are still resisting the jump to Windows 10. Unfortunately, today’s the day – Jan 14, 2020 – and Windows 7 is now officially abandoned and will never get another upgrade or security patch again. This means it’s time to upgrade.
If you’re using Windows 7, congrats. You’ve been on that operating system a long time. In fact, Microsoft Windows 7 was released back in October of 2009. Since then the Microsoft Windows release timeline has brought us two major releases: Windows 8 and, in July 2015, Windows 10. If you’re running a version prior to Windows 7 (e.g, Windows Vista, Windows 2000, or even Windows XP) then you’re exposing your data and system to an extraordinary level of risk. But even if you’re on Win7, the fact is that today’s the day that Microsoft announced it would stop any and all support for the Windows 7 system and you’re now left out in the cold.
There’s a lot of reasons this is a problem but the biggest is that there will never be any more security updates or patches. Which means that given the Cold War nature of hackers finding and exploiting bugs vs Microsoft finding and fixing them, your OS and computer are going to become more and more vulnerable to malware, spyware and ransomware, among other things. But drivers are going to obsolete too and if you buy any new peripherals from this day forward you’re going to find it more and more probable that they won’t work correctly – if at all – on your Win7 system.
Here’s how Microsoft describes End Of Life: “After January 14, 2020, PCs running Windows 7 no longer receive security updates. Therefore, it’s important that you upgrade to … Windows 10, which can provide the latest security updates to help keep you and your data safer. In addition, Microsoft customer service is no longer available to provide Windows 7 technical support. Related services for Windows 7 are also also being discontinued over time. For example, certain games such as Internet Backgammon and Internet Checkers as well as Electronic Program Guide for Windows Media Center are scheduled to be discontinued in January 2020.”
The long and short of it is: If you’re running Windows 7 it’s time to upgrade to Windows 10.
In what will probably end up a boon to hardware manufacturers, Microsoft is also recommending that rather than upgrade, you just buy a new computer. They phrase it rather coyly: “We recommend that you don’t install Windows 10 on an older device, as some Windows 7 devices are not compatible with Windows 10 or could experience reduced feature availability.”
Thing of it is, that’s actually pretty good advice, though likely the last thing you want to hear. The reason is if you’re still running Windows 7, you probably have a 5+ year old computer and oh, they’ve gotten so much faster since then. Even a very modest investment for a new desktop PC from Amazon or BestBuy can yield a much faster experience, whether you’re playing Solitaire or surfing the Web.
Heck, for about $250 you can pick up a refurbished Dell OptiPlex Desktop through BestBuy.com with an Intel i5 CPU, 8GB of memory and a 500GB drive if you want to have the minimum investment possible. That’s not too bad at all and when you plug in your existing keyboard and monitor, you’ll quickly be up to speed on a modern system that’ll support you for years to come.
But you can also upgrade to Windows 10 on your existing machine if you have decent RAM (at least 6GB, I’d say) and enough disk space to make it work. Then you can pick through your programs one by one to see which are compatible and start to learn some new keyboard sequences. The good news is that it’s a world apart from the Win7 experience so you’ll have an online app store, automated upgrades you can schedule to never happen while you use the computer, and lots more networking and connectivity options.
In fact, I’ve written hundreds of articles about how to get started with Windows 10 and how to make it work for you, whether you’re an old school refugee from a punchcard system or enviously watch when the grandkids come over with their gamer PC laptops! Start here to get to my entire library: Windows 10 Help.
Whatever path you choose, it’s time to upgrade from Windows 7. Don’t delay, don’t put your data at risk, don’t get infected without a way out, just head out to your local PC store and find a path forward. Bonus: If you go through a local store they will likely be able to help you migrate all your data files, photos, music, movies and even favorite apps and games onto the new computer too!
Pro Tip: As I said earlier I have a lot of Windows help pages here on the site. Please check ’em out while you’re visiting. Thanks!