Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7 on January 14.
Don’t panic. Don’t just run out and buy a new computer. You have options. Call me.
“End of support” does not mean Windows 7 will stop working, just that there will be no more security updates from Microsoft.
Over time Windows 7 will effectively become less secure as additional security flaws are discovered but not patched. Microsoft will issue updates for Windows 8 and 10. Thes updates will be analyzed by hackers to determine what security flaws they fix, and then malware will be written to attack the flaws. Unpatched systems including all Windows 7 computers will be vulnerable because they won’t be updated.
This was a major concern when Microsoft ended support for XP in 2014, although I did not really see this happen with my customers. Many continued to use XP for quite a while without an increase in malware problems. However, it may be worse this time. Windows 7 program code and structure has more similarity to Windows 10 than XP did to Vista and 7.
Most people still using Windows 7 like it and do not want to give it up, especially if they have already tried Windows 10.
If you are a casual home user and your computer has adequate malware protection and you are careful, I think you can get away with continuing to use Windows 7 for a while. But eventually it will become so outdated it just won’t work well on the Internet.
Unfortunately if you are using your computers for business, and particularly if your business or organization is subject to privacy or security regulations, then you probably have little choice but to stop using an ”unsupported” operating system if you want to be in compliance.
Possibly more significant is that within a couple of years support for other software on Windows 7 will be dropped. In particular, out of date Internet-based applications will start to have problems. Anyone who has tried to use an old web browser has already experienced this.
So what can you do?
Many users just go out and buy a new computer with Windows 10, but this is a costly option which may not be necessary. There are alternatives.
You can continue to use Windows 7 for a while as long as you are careful, have all the available updates installed, know your system is clean, and have good antivirus software.
You can update your existing computers from 7 to 10. It is much less expensive than buying a new one. Another advantage is that is you keep your programs, settings, and data.
Most computers in the last 10 years can handle Windows 10. The most likely hardware upgrade required would be an increase in RAM.
But another great option for those who don’t like Windows 10 or Microsoft’s tendency to force you into updates and changes you don’t want, and don’t “need” Windows, is to dump Microsoft altogether and switch to Linux.
Web surfing, email, word processing and all the other common things most people do with Windows can be done just as easily with Linux. The graphical user interface of a Linux distribution such as Linux Mint is designed to be very easy for Windows users.
Since Linux is not Windows, it is immune to all Windows malware because programs written specifically for Windows will not install and run.
My favorite Linux distribution is Linux Mint. The graphical user interface is very similar to Windows and most users have no trouble switching.
So far, I have switched about 30 customers from Windows to Linux. Many of them are still economically and happily using their 10+ year old Windows Vista PCs converted to Linux, but some have just had it with Windows problems on newer computers and dumped Windows 8 or 10 for Linux Mint.