Windows 10 has been out for over two years now, but many people, both in the consumer and business communities, have yet to adopt it, preferring to stay with Windows 7. It’s understandable. Windows 7 was one of the most popular, and most loved operating systems from Microsoft. In fact, in many ways it’s tough to tell which was more well liked – Windows 7 or Windows XP. But, all good things come to an end, and the end is coming for Windows 7. But what will happen when that end does come, when is it, and what should you do?
Why People Still Use Windows 7
With the free upgrade that Microsoft spent a year pushing, it may seem surprising that it’s still out there. After all, who doesn’t like to get something for free? But, even with the free upgrade, many users failed to adopt Windows 7. In fact, according to NetMarketShare, as of January 2018, only 34.29 percent of users have moved to Windows 10, with over 43.3 percent of users sticking with Windows 7. Even today, over two years after the release of Windows 10, Windows 7 remains the most popular operating system for Microsoft, mainly running on older and refurbished laptop models.
There are many reasons for this. But, in many instances I think you can pin it down to three main reasons:
- Performance Issues – Not everyone runs the latest and greatest PCs and upgrades them every two years. Many users have computers that are as much as five years old or older, and trying to get Windows 10 to run on that older hardware is problematic at best, and downright impossible in some cases. This means that users must purchase a new computer to update to the latest version of Windows, and that may not be in their budget just yet.
- Compatibility Issues – This is especially true in the corporate environment where apps have been custom designed to work on the Windows 7 platform, but you can also find it in the consumer division, as well. Many users don’t make the move because of some application they absolutely need or specific hardware that is necessary to what they do that isn’t compatible with Windows 10. While Microsoft has made great strides in this area, it’s not perfect. That means you could find yourself with a piece of hardware that won’t function or an application that won’t run properly if you upgrade. If they are essential for your life, in both business and personal, then upgrading is hard to do.
- Resistance to Change – While I understand the first two in this list, I must admit I find this one harder to swallow. I do understand that not everyone wants to learn a new operating system, but the differences in Windows 7 and Windows 10, for most people, will be only cosmetic. Still, many don’t want to go through the process of learning something new and prefer the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Although we all know that with computers that’s a complicated saying. Technology continues to march forward and you don’t want to be left behind. But for some, they are perfectly content using an operating system they know works, and don’t care to try something new.
When Does Support for Windows 7 End
As you can see on the graph above, mainstream support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 on January 13, 2015. Typically, Microsoft continues to provide extended support for an operating system for five years after mainstream support has ended. This holds true for Windows 7, as well. That means that extended support will end on January 14, 2020.
Oh, and remember, this applies to Windows 7 Service Pack 1. If you don’t have Service Pack 1, you already have no support. But you can update to Service Pack 1 by clicking here. The same goes for those of you still holding onto Windows XP. If you still have that operating system, you aren’t safe as Microsoft stopped releasing any updates for it years ago. Your best option is to turn off your computer if you are unwilling to upgrade to at least Windows 7 Service Pack 1.
Mainstream and Extended Support
I’ve been throwing around the terms mainstream support and extended support, so I guess I better make sure you know what that means. If you want to learn more, you can check out this link on Microsoft’s Lifecycle.
When an operating system is under mainstream support, that means you are getting the full support from Microsoft of that operating system. So, you will receive all your security updates, new feature patches, lots of bug fixes, and even warranty service. It’s during this time that you often see the big Service Packs get released, at least until Microsoft altered the model with Windows 10, but that’s the subject for a different day. The point is, mainstream support gives you the full support necessary for your operating system.
Once an operating system is downgraded to extended support, things change. The main difference you will find is there will be no more new feature releases. That means no more Service Packs, software bug fixes (not including security) and warranty support will be limited. However, the operating system continues to receive security patches and bug fixes for potential security threats. That means that you can continue to use the operating system and be safe from security threats. Just don’t expect any new features or great service is you have issues with your aging OS.
What Happens When Extended Support Ends
Once you reach the end date of extended support, you must be careful. When extended support ends, Microsoft will no longer support your operating system with any type of patches whatsoever. As I already mentioned, this has already happened with Windows XP, Windows Vista, and earlier versions of Windows 7. But, if you have Service Pack 1, you have extended support until January, 2020.
Once that date hits, you will no longer receive any new patches for Windows 7 – period. Sure, any patches that were released before that date will still be there, but Microsoft won’t give you anything new to keep you safe. That means that your machine will be at risk and dangerous to use, as hackers and other nefarious individuals will target these machines that are still out there that are no longer being serviced.
Now, that doesn’t mean that one day after support is dropped your machine will be at risk. You probably have a little time before a hacker finds a security hole and exploits it, but you never know. The bottom line is when this day is reached you will need to upgrade either by purchasing a license and upgrading your machine or buying something new that comes with Windows 10. Of course, you could always try Linux as well, if you don’t want to upgrade your hardware.
Should You Act Now?
Whether or not you should go ahead and upgrade today is really up to you. Like I said, you have just under two years to figure out your plan of action. Personally, I love Windows 10 and find it much more capable that Windows 7, but I don’t have any specific apps or hardware that won’t run on the platform, as you may.
Look at how you use the computer and what you use on your machine. Check to make sure everything is compatible or find a viable work around for what you do before you upgrade. If you are in a corporate environment, your IT department is already looking at it. Trust me. When they come to you and say it’s time to upgrade, help them and try to make the transition as easy as possible.
No matter what, you have to do something by 2020. If you don’t, you could put your computer at risk and maybe even your personal data as the operating system will become less secure as each day passes.
Windows 10 has been a success for Microsoft compared to past upgrades, but many users still haven’t migrated from Windows 7. The fact is many people love Windows 7, and with good reason. Still, time marches on and at some point they are going to have to make a decision. If you are among them, be sure to make the right one. Upgrade when it is convenient and makes the most sense, but don’t wait too long.
For many of you, I think you will find the transition to be easier than you thought. Sure, there are some differences, and it does look different. But at the end of the day it’s still Windows, so you will be able to use the computer, assuming you have been a long term Windows user. If you need help finding a new Windows 10 laptop, I encourage you check out our buying guides, as we have many different options chosen that will work on any type of budget.
What do you think about this upgrade to Windows 10? Do you love it or hate it? When do you plan to upgrade? Tell me your thoughts about this and anything having to do with Microsoft Windows in the comments below. I’m sure this one is pretty controversial, so I would love to hear what you think.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.