Windows 7 is Coming to an End
Are you prepared?
The end is near for Windows 7. On Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer update or support the popular operating platform. That date could be even sooner if a Windows 7 computer does not have the most recent security update. Windows 8 is not far behind, with support stopping Jan. 10, 2023.
If you haven’t or were not able to upgrade to Windows 10 previously, you are not alone. 2019 reports from Netmarketshare indicate Windows 7 is still being used by more than 36 percent of all desktop PCs as of April 2019. We don’t get a vote in this. If you’re still on Windows 7 or 8, it’s time to migrate now.
You can still use Windows 7 after Jan. 14, 2020. But once support ends, updates and patches to make the operating system function correctly and ward off cyber threats is no longer available. Continuing to operate with outdated software is risky, time consuming and could cause you financial harm. Not a wise decision when there are newer versions out there.
In addition, Microsoft stopped adding new features in 2015, so those using Windows 7 are missing out on the latest technology.
What should you do?
The first and easiest option is to upgrade your software to Windows 10. The free upgrade ended in 2016, so you must either purchase the software or purchase a new computer with the software.
If you are going to upgrade a current computer, make sure it meets the requirements before you proceed. Often on older systems, the memory gets full or was not very robust in the first place. Information on your computer will be found in device settings. Here is what you will need:
+ Required processor: 1 GHz or faster compatible processor
+ Required memory: 1GB RAM for 32-bit; 2GB for 64-bit
+ Required hard disk space: Up to 20GB available hard disk space
+ Required connectivity: Internet access
+ Required video card: 800 x 600 screen resolution or higher. DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM driver
Windows 10 Home is $139, Windows 10 Pro is $199 and Window 10 for Workstations is $309. Read about the features of the different versions here. Most user will only need the Home version for personal use. However, people that use their PC for business may want the added features of Pro such as sharing files across multiple devices, or the advanced file organization or Workstations.
Since both operating systems are made by Microsoft, the upgrade is a relatively easy process. There should be no loss of files, but it is strongly recommended to do a complete back up before updating. It is also recommended that you sign up for a free Microsoft account. While not needed for the upgrade, you will need it for some features and technical support.
You should experience a minimal disruption when upgrading to Windows 10. However, the appearance is different than 7. Watch a beginner’s guide to Windows 10 on YouTube here.
If you plan to upgrade, do it sooner rather than later. There likely will be a cluster toward the end of the year as many people rush to upgrade before the deadline, causing delays in technical support.
Another option: Purchase a new computer instead
While upgrading is likely the easiest solution, it might not be the right choice for everyone. If your computer is more than eight years old, that’s getting to be a dinosaur in computer years. Windows 10 is a modern operating system that may struggle to run on an older machine.
Even if your machine meets the minimum requirements listed above, Windows 10 won’t run that well without at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM and a 160GB hard drive, according to Tech Radar.
You might also experience other issues with your computer (fan and power supply problems are common). Plus, you will plunk down a chunk of money to upgrade the operating system. Perhaps that money could go toward treating yourself to new PC instead.
Or, move to a different operating system
There are other options out there besides Windows. In fact, Linux is the most cost-effective alternative because it is open-source, free to use software.
Linux is regularly updated by a community of enthusiastic developers, keeping the software up to date while avoiding cyber threats. There are different versions of Linux (called distros). One of the most popular is Ubuntu, offering well-developed versions supported by many apps. However, using Linux is like learning a new language. Great if you have the time, technical savvy and inclination, or a barrier if not. Also, keep in mind your Windows programs, such as Microsoft Word, will not run on Linux. There are work arounds and substitute free programs, but generally speaking, mainstream software is not designed for Linux.
The other option is switching to an Apple computer. Apple’s Mac computers have a good reputation for reliability and warding off hackers. Systems have gotten more similar to Windows, so learning to navigate around a Mac isn’t too difficult. However, there are vastly more resources available for Windows, from hardware and software to customization and peripherals. If you are in a creative field, Macs are still a strong choice, while for other business applications, Windows dominates. Read my comparison of Mac vs Windows for more details.
I’m going to end this article with a little story.
Last year, I purchased a new high-end laptop for business, and upgraded to Windows 10 Pro. I backed up all of my files onto a new Seagate removable hard drive, and did not save the files on my old computer (other than a months-old backup). There was a major system malfunction during the file transfer to my new computer, wiping out all files on the new computer and the removable hard drive all at once. The data was not recoverable. So, before you start the process of changing your operating system, take it from someone that should have known better: Back up all of your files on the originating computer. Then, backup all of your files on a removable hard drive.