So Long Windows 7, It’s Been Fun!

Published by john on February 10, 2020 Under Tech Support

Windows 7 is arguably one of the best operating systems Microsoft has released and certainly when compared to Windows Vista, which was its predecessor, and Windows 8, which was released after Windows 7, it is a great piece of software.

While it is possible that, like as with Windows XP, the fact that both Vista and Windows 8 were such poor operating systems, makes us look at Windows 7 with much rosier glasses than we might otherwise if we viewed it in a vacuum. However, regardless, I think almost everyone can at least agree that Windows 7 did a lot of things right.

On January 14th 2020, Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 7, as it reached it’s end of life. While this doesn’t mean the operating system will no longer work, Microsoft will no longer publicly release security updates or bug fixes, so as it went with Windows XP, the operating system will become increasingly insecure overtime.

A Parting Gift From Microsoft: One Last Buggy Update

Microsoft released one last update for Windows 7 in January. Unfortunately, this caused some issues with desktop backgrounds, where when set to ‘stretch’, the background would just appear black. As a result, Microsoft has stated they will release another patch, but this is not something they will likely do in the future or that you can count on.

Other users have reported that they can no longer shutdown their computer and instead get an error, but it is unclear if Microsoft will patch this as well.

What Does Windows 7 End-Of-Life Mean for Most Users?

When a piece of software reaches end-of-life, it means that the company supporting it, in this case Microsoft, will no longer release updates, such as security updates or bug fixes.

It is common for criminals and hackers to try to keep the bugs they use to compromise or exploit a piece of software secret, so that the vendor does not find out and patch the vulnerability. Since Microsoft is no longer officially supporting Windows 7, they can be more open with this now, with less risk of Microsoft patching/fixing the bugs they are exploiting.

This doesn’t mean the software is instantly insecure, but as new bugs are found, they will be exploited and overtime Windows 7 will become much less secure and prone to Virus Infection.

So No More Updates Ever? Microsoft has already pledged to do at least one more update to fix the desktop background issue described above and in the past, they released a security update for Windows XP to address a major security vulnerability that was being used to infect computers with Ransomware. So, it is possible they may do something similar with Windows 7. However, this is not something that can be or should be counted on!

Extended Security Updates

For enterprise customers, Microsoft does offer extended support, typically with a per-computer fee. However, this is not available to home/residential computer users. And, the cost is prohibitively expensive so that for most companies, upgrading to Windows 10 is a better option.

There are some cases though, like Point-of-Sale(cash registers), ATMs, and other systems used by large corporations, where upgrading to Windows 10 is immediately is not practical or even possible. In those cases, it may make sense to pay for the extended support, but this fee will increase each year and so a better long term solution is finding a non-windows solution or upgrading to Windows 10.

Upgrading to Windows 10

For most people, including small businesses and home owners with personal computers, the easiest and least expensive option is to upgrade to Windows 10. Depending on how old your computer is, you may want to at least price out the cost of a new computer or laptop, to see if it is more cost effective to purchase a new one or upgrade your existing PC. However, the cost of upgrading is usually pretty minor, so if the computer is still in good shape, you should be able to get more life out of it by upgrading.

Windows 7 vs Windows 10

If you are using Windows 8, Windows 10 is hands down a superior operating system. It kept some of the things that windows 8 got right, while getting rid of many of the things it did horribly wrong.

When comparing Windows 7 to Windows 10, there are actually a number of similarities with Windows 10, but it is also going to be different from what you are used to. One of the biggest differences, is changes to how the settings work. While the Control Panel is still a part of Windows 10 and there are even some settings that are only accessible via the Control Panel, there is a new settings dialog, which allows you to manage the majority of Windows settings.

Another big difference between Windows 7 and Windows 10 is the start menu. While it shares some similarities, Windows 10 continues the live-tile based design used in Windows 8 and so visually looks a lot different.

Windows 10 Privacy

While overall a really solid operating system, with Windows 8 and then continuing into Windows 10, Microsoft has moved towards a much more cloud based operating system. By default, they are collecting a lot of personal information and even if you go through the privacy settings and disable things, there are still privacy concerns.

For users with a Professional Version of Windows 10, which provides access to the Group Policy Editor(gpedit.msc), it is possible to turn off a great deal of the cloud based parts of Windows 10. However, for users with a Home version of Windows 10, this is more difficult and when possible involves editing the registry or manually uninstalling software via the Windows Powershell. Unfortunately, Microsoft has a habit of re-enabling these changes/edits sometimes, so it is more difficult as a regular home user to keep your data secure.

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