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Posted Sep 11th, 2019

Support for Windows 7 is Nearing the End

Even though Windows 10 has been out for several years now, there are still a few holdouts clinging onto their Windows 7 install. But not for much longer. 

Earlier this March, Microsoft announced that it would be ending support for Windows 7 after  ten years. Back in July, Windows 7 users began seeing a “courtesy reminder” of the operating software’s end. While the reminder itself does not mention anything about Windows 10, it does  link to a landing page on Microsoft’s website that states support will end on January 14, 2020. 

About The Notification

The first notification was introduced back in March, in an update titled KB4493132. The update echoes some of the popups seen by Windows XP users back when that operating software was being phased out.

Upon receiving the notification, users have the option of clicking a “Do not remind me again” checkbox to prevent receiving further updates, but Microsoft may continue to show the notification on systems throughout the year.

What End Of Support Means For Windows 7 Users

Once January 14, 2020 rolls around, Microsoft will cease to provide technical support for known issues, software updates, and security updates or fixes. Windows 7 users can continue to run the operating system, but the lack of ongoing support may lead to bigger problems, such as contracting a virus or malware. 

The end of support will also mean that if the operating system experiences any bugs, you will no longer be able to contact Microsoft for help to fix the problem.

Fortunately, if you don’t yet feel like moving to Windows 10, Microsoft is allowing you to keep Windows 7 and extend security updates through January 2023. The only catch: it only applies to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. Microsoft stated that the support will cost extra, but made no announcement about the specific cost. 

Why Is Microsoft Ending Support?

Software publishers can’t support their work forever. Eventually, the money and labor need to be allocated to more recent products, in this case, Windows 10. The move is also seen as a way to encourage users to update to newer, more reliable services. In fact, Microsoft’s extended support of a product almost ten years old shows the company’s commitment to supporting its users long after their purchase.

The Popularity Of Windows 7

So just how popular was Windows 7 and how many people continue to use it? Well, consider this fact: Windows 10 only overtook Windows 7 as the most popular version back in January 2019— Windows 10 had captured 39% of the market, while Windows 7 had 37%. In other words, Windows has 1 billion users worldwide, so there are still hundreds of millions using Windows 7. Not bad for an OS almost a decade old!

Who Will The Update Affect?

Microsoft will end support for all Windows 7 versions, including Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate. Windows 7 embedded systems, like the ones you’d see in point-of-sale terminals, retail devices, and other computers actually ended support back in 2016. But Windows 7 Ultimate for Embedded Systems has not yet received an ultimatum on its shelf life. 

For more info about Windows 7 embedded services and their ultimate longevity, visit Microsoft’s info page here. 

How To Update To Windows 10 From Windows 7

As suggested by the software company, the best way to stay secure on Windows is to upgrade to their latest version: Windows 10. Over time, you’ll have less and less of a choice in the matter, unless you’re fine with exposing and compromising your OS. You also won’t be able to downgrade once you update.

If you’re looking to upgrade, there are three main ways to do so:

Free upgrade: Don’t tell anyone at Microsoft, but two years after the free upgrade offer ended, users found that they could still activate Windows 10 from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. All you need is a product key from Windows 7 or 8.1 (Pro/Ultimate), saving you up to $100 in software costs. To learn more about this trick, check out ZDNet’s article.

Buy a license from Microsoft’s store: Microsoft is selling a license to Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Windows 10 Pro for Workstations on its online store. You can choose between a download (which you’ll run off a burnable disc, or USB). The license includes the operating system as well as apps like Mail, Calendar, Microsoft Edge, Photos and more. The license also only works for one computer (PC or Mac).

Buy a Windows 10 device. These days, nearly every desktop computer, laptop or tablet comes with Windows 10 pre-installed. This is still the best way to upgrade, as you don’t have to worry about meeting the minimum specifications. In addition, these products usually have an SSD installed (solid state drive), which is the fastest and most secure way to store your files. 

The Risk Of Sticking With Windows 7

For now, no immediate action is needed on your part. Just know that pretty soon, you may start getting more notifications to upgrade, and you may put your computer at risk. Whenever support ends for an operating software, it allows hackers to find vulnerabilities and exploit them more easily. So if you plan on staying with Windows 7, just know that later on, it may come at a cost.

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To stay up to date on other security news, visit Securis’s blog today.

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