Microsoft recently announced that the Windows 7 end-of-life process will officially begin on January 14, 2020. On that day, from laptops and desktops, the company will stop supporting Windows 7 and will no longer upgrade it with security updates.
Of course, this could cause both customers and business users some consternation. Windows 7 is still a wildly popular operating system that millions of people around the world still rely on, even 10 years after its release. And, as hard as Microsoft might be trying to push people to Windows 10, it’s not going to be as easy as the company might expect.
Yet, unfortunately, these good things have to come to an end. And sure enough, Windows 7 will be placed on the farm, putting hackers at a potentially higher risk of attacking those who stick with the operating system. So, we’ve assembled the following FAQ to ease some of those concerns and address some of the questions you may have about the end of life of Windows 7.
What is Windows 7’s end of life?
End of life is the term used by Microsoft to describe the time in which the company no longer supports an operating system or software. In this case, it means that Microsoft will move on from Windows 7 as of January 14, 2020, and will no longer patch security holes in the OS. And if things go wrong and bugs grow, you’re not going to be able to call Microsoft to fix the issue.
How many people are still using Windows 7?
You might be surprised to learn that at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, Windows 10 only became the world’s most popular version of Windows, taking the crown from Windows 7. At that time, according to Net Applications, Windows 10 gained 39 percent of market share, compared with 37 percent for Windows 7. There are more than 1 billion Windows users around the world to put that into perspective. Therefore, this change will affect hundreds of millions of people.
What does Windows 7 end of life mean for my security?
Okay, this is where things get interesting. One of the nice things of not being at the end of life is the full support and patching of the operating system or application kit. In Windows 7, after Jan. 14, 2020, all that support will go by the way. In the past few years, when Microsoft brought software to an end, the company offered some heavy patches in the run-up to the date to secure as much as possible the operating system.
Does the end of life apply to all Windows 7 versions?
So, if you’re talking about all versions of Windows 7, such as Home and Pro, then yes – the date applies to them all. But if you’re using Windows 7 in point-of-sale terminals and other devices embedded systems, it’s a bit of a moving target.
How do I move to Windows 10 from Windows 7?
Like it or not, even if you initially don’t want to switch to Windows 10, you will have little choice at long last. Windows 10 will be packed into their computers by PC vendors, with no downgrade alternative to Windows 7. Apart from eBay, Craigslist and other locations outside standard retail outlets, you won’t find Windows 7 anywhere to buy.
If you want to update to Windows 10, you can do so with a full Windows 10 license free of charge as long as you have a PC that meets all the operating system specifications. That shouldn’t be too hard, but here’s a look at what you need to get on your computer with Windows 10.
Windows 10 Minimum Specs
Processor: 1GHz processor or faster
Memory: 1GB of RAM for a 32-bit installation and 2GB of RAM for a 64-bit installation
Hard Disk Space: Up to 20GB of space
Graphics Card: A screen with a resolution of 800 by 600 or higher, and a DirectX 9 graphics chip
Connectivity: Internet access
Can I keep using Windows 7 if I like it?
If you really like it, there’s no one keeping you from sticking with Windows 7, but as we’ve talked before, you’re going to use an operating system that isn’t supported anymore and doesn’t include security updates. Windows 7 will operate just as it does now after the end-of-life date, so you shouldn’t see any problems with the usability of your computer. Over time, though, you might start to see more security issues.
It may also be possible for third-party developers to do so, including Microsoft turning the lights out on Windows 7. Microsoft will not force developers to stop supporting their Windows 7 applications, and they may not immediately stop support if there is a sufficiently large user base. But over time, with things changing and consumers switching to other platforms gradually, developers are also pressured in their applications to stop supporting updates to Windows 7.
Will I be able to install and activate Windows 7 in the future?
You can still deploy it if you’re really serious about sticking to Windows 7 and don’t want to give it up. Microsoft has, in fact, made it clear that you can still install it and activate it on your chosen device.
What about Internet Explorer?
After Microsoft switched to Windows 10’s Edge browser, the company has looked at ways to end Internet Explorer. And it can actually do that.
And, like Windows 7, hackers trying to target the app might hit Internet Explorer hard. Thankfully, Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is getting an Internet Explorer mode and Windows 10 users who rely on IE for some legacy features can still take advantage of it.
Can I get an extension on my Windows 7 support?
Believe it or not, it’s possible.
If you feel you don’t want to move to Windows 10 yet or just don’t have the time to get away from Windows 7, Microsoft will allow Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise users to extend their Windows 7 security updates by January 2023.