Microsoft, the operating system and office, gaming and utilities software and hardware producer have planned for the ‘End of Life’ (EOL) transition away from Windows 7 for quite a while, mainstream support ended on January 13th 2015 with the extended support ending on January 14th 2020.
So, what exactly does this mean for operators of Windows 7 machines across homes and office the world over that make up about 35% of computers online that are known about, perhaps 446 million in total?
There have been announcements about the planned upcoming EOL date as well as notices on Windows 7 machines via the notifications utility built right into the systems that suggested updating to Windows 10, the current Microsoft blanket operating system (OS) for home and office workers.
Those that decided against upgrading, perhaps owners of older hardware with their systems that would not be able to handle the heavier resource using the newer OS will still be able to use their computers and nothing will stop them from doing so in the future, it just means that ongoing support for the OS and associated Microsoft apps will cease meaning that the systems will become more and more vulnerable to viruses and malware attacks as there were periodic and well as cumulative updates released by Microsoft since its initial release to keep users systems safe as well as updates to make it more efficient and adding new features as time progressed.
There will be hackers out there working away to actively find exploits in the system and unfortunately, Microsoft or it’s subsidiary security companies, as well as third party finds will now not release any updates or patch any holes that are found.
Existing Windows 7 (and 8) users have a couple of choices here at this point in time, one would be to update to Windows 10, it used to be free to download but now costs £119.99 for the simplest “home” version for a single device. There is still time these users can update to Windows 10 as a loophole has been deliberately left open to allow users to upgrade for free as long as the version of Windows 7 is a legitimate one – search on the internet for “Windows 10 Download page” if you would like to take this route.
The second option is for those with older systems that will not be able to handle the more bloated Windows 10, they can either update the system adding RAM, changing the processor or building a new system, if the hardware upgrade is too costly or just not possible there are some other OSs like Linux Ubuntu and other flavors that have far lower resource footprints and are very usable systems now that do not require constant command line inputs as feature a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to make normal operation easier for many with a less steep learning curve getting used to the new system – many open source systems have free software like Libre office for documentation work and Gimp which is a very powerful graphics program, similar to the very popular Adobe Photoshop.
As a lot of data is now kept on the cloud which is a web distributed and backed up computing data instance, as well as cheaply sought backup devices like USB high capacity thumb drives and so on, it would not take much effort or time to switch to a different system and be up, ready and working again.
Microsoft actually advised buying new systems rather than updating older ones:
“For most Windows 7 users, moving to a new device with Windows 10 will be the recommended path forward. Today’s PCs are faster, lightweight yet powerful, and more secure, with an average price that’s considerably less than that of the average PC eight years ago.”
Bearing in mind that is will cost a fair bit of cash to perform the upgrade and then users could end up with an unusable system, it does seem like solid advice but of course, it will not be good news for many.
With computing, if you do not keep up with ongoing tech advances in hardware and software there comes a time that you will simply be left behind and many accept and understand the way of this, it harps back to Moores law that has been discussed before.
Those with Windows 7 machines should most definitely not use online banking or financial applications including digital currencies now the cut off date has passed as they could be exploited with the loss of assets and funds if they have not upgraded to Windows 10.