By Joshua Bagwell
Remember when Microsoft ended support and stopped releasing security updates for Windows XP? Windows 7 is about to meet the same fate. Microsoft has announced that as of January 14th, 2020, they will no longer support Windows 7 or release security updates.
Attacks on Windows 7 usually rely on vulnerabilities in the Operating System. Each time a vulnerability is found, Microsoft develops and releases a patch. Once Windows 7 reaches End of Life in January 2020, no new vulnerabilities found will be patched. Attackers know this, and after January 2020, Windows 7 will be just as vulnerable to attacks as Windows XP, making the system more vulnerable to malware/ransomware and data theft. Also, the machine can be used to spread malware across the network.
Aside from the security problems due to support ending for Windows 7, the other problem is that application vendors will no longer be making their applications compatible with Windows 7 or release updates for applications that are running on Windows 7 machines. That includes antivirus vendors.
I’m often asked, “Can’t I just upgrade my operating system instead of replacing my PC?” Well, maybe, assuming your hardware is compatible with Windows 10, but it’s not economical. It doesn’t make financial sense to install a $199 Windows 10 upgrade plus several hundred dollars in labor on an aging machine that may only last another year or so. There’s a good possibility that it will run so slowly that you end up frustrated and replace the machine after all.
You have about a year and a half to make the switch, but don’t wait too long. First off, planning ahead allows small businesses to spread out the cost. You’ll need adequate time to make sure that any applications that you’re currently using will also work on Windows 10. You also want to be sure that any printers, scanners or any other peripherals that you’re currently using will function properly. You can’t know if they function until you switch to Windows 10.