This means Microsoft will no longer update or support the operating system after that date.
And, while Windows 7 is a decade old at this point – launching on July 22, 2009 – it’s still incredibly popular, with recent reports from Telemarketer suggesting that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs.
If you’re one of those people, in this guide we’ll explain how you can prepare for Windows 7 End of Life. We’ll look at why the end of support for Windows 7 is so important, as well as the options you have, and at how you can go about moving to Windows 10, Microsoft’s most recent operating system, as well as alternative software.
So, read on for our advice on how to prepare for Windows 7’s End of Life on January 14, 2020.
Windows 7 End of Life: when does Windows 7 support end?
Windows 7 End of Life begins on January 14, 2020. Up until that date, Windows 7 is in an ‘extended support’ phase.
As with all operating systems, after a while it doesn’t make sense, both from a financial point of view and in terms of time and effort, to keep old software patched and updated, especially when there are newer versions of the software out there.
Microsoft actually ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, which meant new features stopped being added, and warranty claims were no longer valid.
However, during the extended support phase, which Windows 7 entered after the end of its mainstream support, the operating system has still been patched and updated to make sure security issues and bugs are fixed.
When Windows 7 enters its End of Life phase, this support will end as well.
Windows 7 End of Life: what happens next?
When Windows 7 reaches its End of Life phase on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop releasing updates and patches for the operating system. It’s likely that it also won’t offer help and support if you encounter any problems.
But just because you can continue to use Windows 7 in its End of Life status, it doesn’t mean you should.
The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that it won’t be patched for any new viruses or security problems once it enters End of Life, and this leaves you extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats.
So, while Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14 2020, you should start planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system, as soon as possible.
Windows 7 End of Life: what should you do?
So, if you still use Windows 7, what should you do? There are a number of things we’d recommend you do in preparation for Windows 7 End of Life, and the first is to consider upgrading to a newer operating system.
While you have a number of choices when moving operating systems, for many people, the obvious and simplest option is to upgrade to Windows 10.
Windows 7 End of Life: upgrading to Windows 10
Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has a number of benefits.
This means you’ll experience the minimum of disruption when upgrading to Windows 10. Most programs you use will have been updated to work on Windows 10 as well, and the layout and interface are similar to Windows 7, so you shouldn’t find it too hard to adjust.
It’s nice and easy, and you’ll be asked if you want to keep your files. However, we’d recommend that you still back up all your files and folders just in case.While upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the easiest solution, there are reasons why it won’t be right for some people. For a start, you’ll need to buy a Windows 10 license, and these can be quite expensive – if you were hoping to manage Windows 7’s End of Life without spending any money, this isn’t the way to do it.
Here’s the minimum specification for Windows 10:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or Soc.
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS.
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
Display: 800 x 600 resolution
Buying a new machine is another option, and Windows 7’s End of Life could be a good excuse to spoil yourself with a new and more powerful PC, with Windows 10 installed. You can quite easily move your files and folders to your new machine using an external hard drive.
Check out our pick of the best laptops for inspiration and buying advice on getting a new machine, whatever your budget.
One last thing – don’t be tempted to save a bit of money and upgrade to Windows 8. Although it’s more recent than Windows 7, it’s not going to be too long before that version too enters its End of Life stage, so you’re better off saving further hassle down the line by getting the newer (and let’s be fair, better) Windows 10.
Windows 7 End of Life: moving to Linux
The most cost-effective way of preparing for Windows 7 End of Life is to switch operating systems altogether, and install Linux on your machine.
There are a huge number of versions of Linux available, which are known as distributions or distros. While this wide range of distros can be overwhelming at first, it also means it’s easy to find a distro that’s right for your needs.
To help you get started, check out our guide to the best Linux distros.
One of the most popular distros is Ubuntu, and it’s ideal for people who are moving from Windows to Linux, as it’s easy to use and is supported by a lot of apps.
Another good thing about switching to Linux is that there are a number of distros that are specifically designed to run on older hardware. These distros can give your hardware a new lease of life, allowing it to run better than ever.
Check out our pick of the best lightweight Linux distros.
Some Linux distros can also be run off a CD or DVD – known as a live CD – which means they don’t need to be installed. This is also a good way of trying out a Linux distro before you commit to it.
There are downsides, though. First of all, as Linux is a completely different operating system to Windows 7, it means that some of your favorite apps, such as Microsoft Word, won’t be available.
No matter which distro you go for, there’s no denying that Linux is quite different to Windows in a number of ways, and that can create a bit of a culture shock. If you do go from Windows 7 to Linux you’ll need to spend some time learning how to use the new operating system – and that’s why it’s best to start looking now, rather than waiting until Windows 7’s End of Life deadline.
Also, while there are many professional-looking distros (check out Elementary OS for an example of how classy Linux can look), there are also some that aren’t quite as polished as Windows.
Windows 7 End of Life: switch to Mac
Finally, you could use Windows 7’s End of Life as a reason to dip your toe into Apple’s ecosystem.
Most programs that you can use in Windows are also available for Mac, although you may need to buy them again. There are also plenty of alternative programs, and you can use an emulator as well.
Windows 7 End of Life: back up your documents
No matter which route you take, you should make sure that your documents are safely backed up. If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 on the same machine the transfer of your files is part of the process, but it’s best to back up just in case something goes wrong.
If you’re moving to Linux or a Mac device, or to a new Windows 10 machine, you’re going to be either formatting your hard drive or moving to new hardware, so you’ll want to back up your data so that you can transfer it your new device/operating system.
There are a number of ways to do this. You could copy your files to an external hard drive – check out our best external hard drives article for more advice – or you could use a cloud storage service, which uploads your data to the internet, then allows you to download and synchronize the files on your new device.
Dropbox is a good choice for this, as it works with Windows, Linux and macOS, making it easy to move your files from one machine or operating system to another.
Windows 7 End of Life: sticking with Windows 7
If you run a business that still uses Windows 7, then you have a dilemma. Upgrading all your PCs to Windows 10, and retraining staff, might prove tricky before Windows 7’s End of Life on January
However, you don’t want to risk running an operating system that doesn’t get security patches. The good news is that Microsoft will be offering Windows 7 Extended Security Updates, which will continue to deliver updates and patches for Windows 7 business users after January 2020.
However, these extended security updates will cost money on a per device basis, and it’s now been revealed just how much these Windows 7 extended security updates will cost.
As this is a per device cost, businesses with numerous PCs running Windows 7 will soon find this very expensive.