Come January 14, 2020, Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7. The company cited its focus on promoting newer technologies as the reason behind the move. This means that Windows 7 users will have to move on from their current OS and figure out something else.
Microsoft’s decision to end Windows 7 doesn’t come as a surprise. As per a survey by Netmarketshare, only 39% of all PCs are currently using Windows 7. And, in the wake of Windows 10’s success, investing resources on an OS that’s a decade older doesn’t make sense. For growth, the company shouldn’t shy away from discontinuing what’s obsolete and navigating to the next.
This guide explains the right approach to tackle Windows 7 End of Life, and is an important piece of information for those who are still using the OS. Inside, you will find answers to why the end of Windows 7 is relevant, what happens next, and which options you have as alternatives. Just in case you wish to upgrade your OS to Windows 10, we have a free guide below to help you with just that.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Windows 7 Retires: Why is Microsoft Pulling the Plug on its Best-Selling OS?
The decision by Microsoft to discontinue Windows 7 is logical in terms of time, effort, and money. To squeeze out everything for keeping the old software patched and updated at a time when its newer versions are in high demand and need constant improvement is folly, indeed.
Notably, Microsoft ended the mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015. This is when any new updates for the OS stopped coming, and warranty claims were no longer valid.
Till January 14, 2020, Windows 7 is in the ‘extended support’ phase, which means the OS has been patched and updated to offer seamless functioning without bugs and security errors. However, after the said date, Microsoft will no longer update or provide support for Windows 7. The OS will officially retire.
How is Microsoft Notifying Users to Make the Switch?
Microsoft has released an update to Windows 7—KB4493132—which will send notifications to remind users of upgrading to Windows 10. Anybody with automatic updates turned on will be notified promptly.
The company promises to keep notifications less obtrusive, and users can choose not to see them frequently. However, we suggest that you upgrade the OS ASAP to avoid the impending risks.
What Does Windows 7 End of Support Mean?
Make no mistake: Windows 7 End of Life isn’t small news. If you aren’t taking it seriously, you’re in for a problem. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release patches and updates for the OS. With no security patches available, you will lie entirely exposed to new emerging threats and might end up falling in a trap. Also, you are highly unlikely to get any help if you encounter any problems.
In addition to this, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, it could be a huge plus for the malicious elements to target the OS and swindle users of their personal data or money, which is a real scare.
Can Users Still Use Windows 7 After the End of Life Date?
Microsoft is ending support for Windows on January 14, 2020. However, that doesn’t mean people cannot use the OS afterwards. Users will still be able to use Windows 7. So, the PCs will run just fine. However, you should NOT continue using it because by doing so, you will put your security at risk.
Windows 7 End of Life: What Should You Do?
Below, we have recommended a number of options to help you deal with Windows 7 End of Life. We start the list with the most simplest and reliable alternative—upgrading to Windows 10.
Upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 – A Complete Guide
Upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10 has more than one benefit. Since both the operating systems are helmed by Microsoft, upgrading is relatively easy and quick. The interface has a lot of similarities, so there is a shallow learning curve and you won’t find it difficult to adapt.
All things considered, there are still a few downsides you should know. While Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade is the most viable thing to do, it wouldn’t be a right option for a few people. They will be required to buy Windows 10 license, which is pretty expensive. Also, while Microsoft has engineered Windows 10 to run on older software, it can’t really work as seamlessly as you’d expect on an older Windows 7 machine. To remedy this, it’s important that you boost up your PC’s specifications.
Here are the minimum specifications required for Windows 10:
- 1 GB RAM for 32-bit or 2GB for 64-bit
- 16 GB hard disk space for 32-bit OS or 20GB for 64-bit OS
- 1 GHz processor or faster
- DirectX 9 compatible graphics card or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- 800*600 display resolution
If your Windows 7 PC doesn’t meet these requirements, you will not be able to upgrade to Windows 10. And, even if you do, it won’t run smoothly. So, we recommend at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, a 160GB hard drive, and 4GB of RAM (8GB ideally).
Now that you know the prerequisites, it’s time to know how you can upgrade to Windows 10. Let’s start.
- Step 1: Go to Windows 10 official download page.
- Step 2: On the page, scroll down a bit to find the ‘Download Tool Now’. Click it to start the download of Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.
- Step 3: Run the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool and accept the terms.
- Step 4: Select ‘Upgrade this PC now’ and tap on ‘Next’.
- Step 5: Next, select ‘Keep personal files and apps’ and click ‘Continue’.
- Step 6: Wait till the installation ends. This might take a couple of minutes.
- Step 7: Connect with the internet and open Settings > Windows Update > Activation. This will activate your PC/desktop with a digital license.
NOTE: There might be a few of you wondering why we haven’t talked about upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 8 for the sake of the pecking order. Though Windows 8 is more recent, it’s only a matter of time until Microsoft decides to end the OS. So, upgrading to Windows 10 will save you a lot of hassle.
Moving to Linux
Installing Linux on Windows 7 is a cost-effective method to dodge what’s coming after the latter’s End of Life Date. A number of Linux versions are available in the market, known as distributions or distros. All you need to do is finding a distro that best suits your needs.
We recommend Ubuntu, one of the most popular distros ideal for people looking to move from Windows to Linux. It’s pretty easy to use and supported by a number of apps, which is a great plus. Another option we’d recommend is Linux Mint, which has the similar interface as Windows 7. So, the transition wouldn’t be difficult. Some Linux distros can easily run off as a CD or DVD. This means that users aren’t required to install them, and they can actually try them off before committing to any specific one.
On the downside, it’s disappointing that Linux might not support some of your favorite apps, like Microsoft Word, and instead provide LibreOffice, an open source alternative to Microsoft.
Linux is a completely different OS from Windows 7 in a number of ways, and adapting to its specifics could be a rough tide. We advise that you start spending some time learning Linux if you’re considering this option over upgrading to Windows 10.
Sticking to Windows 10
For some reasons, a few users might decide to stick with Windows 10 even after the End of Life date. These users could be having an entire business supported by the OS, and upgrading to Windows 10 or Linux might prove tricky.
The good news is that Microsoft has announced that it will be providing Extended Security Updates, which will continue to deliver patches and updates for Windows 7 even after January 14, 2020. However, the catch is—these security updates will cost money on a per device basis.
Windows Enterprise Users will be required to shell out over $25 (£20 and AU$35) for the first year. This increases to $50 per device (£40 and AU$70) for the second year, and then to $100 per device ((£80 and AU$140) for the third year. If business systems are supported by Windows 7 Pro, the costs will get doubled.
So, unless you are okay with the idea of spending a fortune on extended security updates for Windows 7, we recommend that you switch to Windows 10 and save your pockets for bigger priorities in life.