Windows 7 In The Junkyard

It seems that just yesterday we were upgrading our Windows XP and Vista computers to Windows 7. For ten years, we used it to surf the web, get email, work, play games, edit photos, and perform many other tasks. But as solid and useful as it was, as of January 14th, 2020, Windows 7 joined its many predecessors in the operating system junkyard.

What this means is that even though the fixes for WannaCry, BlueKeep, and other vulnerabilities will remain in place, Microsoft will stop creating and updating security fixes for Windows 7. Nothing is preventing you from using Windows 7 now that it is no longer updated. You should, however, be aware that over time it will become more and more vulnerable to security problems that criminals will try to exploit.

Good News

The good news is that some of you might still be able to legally upgrade to Windows 10 for free. There’s no telling how long Microsoft will continue to allow this, so if you are considering this option, you should act soon. To upgrade to Windows 10, you can either contact a local computer repair business or visit the official Microsoft website at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10, where you can download the Windows 10 installation media. Whether you can use this to get a free upgrade will depend on your current Windows license. You should contact Microsoft or your local computer repair store for more information. There are also several good Internet videos and how-to articles available if you are interested in trying it yourself.

If for some reason you are unable to upgrade to Windows 10, there are still a few things that you should do right away to get as much life out of your existing computer. First, run the Windows Update tool on your computer and tell it to download and install recommended and optional updates. You should also download and install Windows 7 Service Pack 1. You want to be vigilant and read through the lists in case one of the updates is an upgrade to Windows 10. If you are choosing not to upgrade, then you would want to deselect that one. You should also stop using Internet Explorer in favor of an alternative browser right away. Updating your antivirus and anti-malware software is also recommended.

Just because Microsoft stopped supporting this operating system doesn’t mean that third-party companies will immediately do so as well. In the past, the software companies that make programs such as Firefox, Chrome, Thunderbird, and Steam, continued to create updated software for Windows XP and Vista. These updates continued for about three years after the official Microsoft support ended. Nothing is forcing these companies to do this; they do not have to say when they will end support for Windows 7. One thing to keep in mind is that even though these companies are updating their software, they won’t be updating the underlying operating system.

ITC strongly recommends patching and upgrading your operating system and software to the latest version. Upgrading helps provide you with a better Internet experience and ensures you are using the Internet in the safest way possible. Please call our help desk if you have any questions.

- Michael Martinell, The Broadband Guy