The day of January 14, 2020, has finally come when Windows 7 reaches the end of life (EOL). From now on, it will not receive any security updates.
Windows 7, released back in 2009, alleviated the criticism that Redmond faced over Windows Vista. The OS has also been a daily driver for the people who didn’t go for Windows 8/8.1. But 10 years later, the operating system still finds a home in over 400 million PCs across the globe.
Now, theoretically, all these users will have to look for alternatives for Windows 7 to move forward in their digital lives. Various federal bodies and intelligence services, including the UK’s GCHQ, have started to warn users that they shouldn’t use the older OS for carrying out sensitive work.
Although it seems that Windows 7 end of life will bring dark days, the situation appears to be manageable in the real world. People can get a sense of satisfaction by knowing that some machines are still running Windows XP, including the one used by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
However, it’s still recommended to upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 or use any other freshly updated OS.
So, if you have been a Windows 7 user until now, here’s what you can do.
What to do after Windows 7 End of Life?
Beef up your security and privacy
Your Windows 7 PC won’t receive any security patches, so it becomes obvious that you can’t be careless while doing things, for instance, clicking random links, downloading files from unknown sources. Given the OS would be vulnerable to undiscovered threats, making online payments and accessing internet banking services becomes a risky business too.
Make sure that the antivirus software you’re using continues to offer support for Windows 7. That way, if not the official patches, the updates from the antivirus company will be able to protect your machine.
Setting up the firewall is also an important step. You don’t want malicious actors trying to get inside your computer when not intended. Apart from the Windows Firewall, there are many third-party firewall software in the market as well.
To further boost the security, don’t connect any unknown USB peripherals as they might contain malware that your machine isn’t protected against.
Update your Windows 7 apps or switch
For all the apps installed on your Windows 7 PC, try to keep them updated to the latest version all the time. Popular legacy (Win32) apps like VLC and various web browsers work fine but the video editing software Premiere Pro has dropped support for Windows 7 and even Windows 8.1.
So, if a particular app pulls support for Windows 7, try to find alternatives that can fit your needs.
Upgrade to Windows 10
After the Windows 7 end of life, some users might be thinking of buying a new Windows 10 PC. It sounds like a good idea, and you might be able to get some cash for selling your older hardware as well.
But if your PC is powerful enough, then you might consider upgrading to Windows 10 instead. This can be quite helpful if your hands are short on cash right now.
The free Windows 7 to Windows 10 upgrade offer is still known to be working (unofficially). All you need to have is an unused Windows 7 license key, to begin with.
One doesn’t need to care about apps as Microsoft has confirmed that almost 99% of Windows 7 apps are compatible with Windows 10.
Windows 7 Extended Security Updates
For business customers running Windows 7 Pro and Enterprise editions, Microsoft is offering Extended Security Updates (ESU) for up to 3 years if the business is willing to pay an annual fee for that.
Jump The Ship – Alternatives to Windows 7
Another way to continue your digital life after Windows 7 EOL is to jump the ship and try a new operating system altogether.
One viable option for many users is macOS. One would say that MacBooks and iMacs come at pocket burning costs. But I have realized that the overall experience provided by Apple matches up for the price.
While each OS has its own share of pros and cons, just compare a 5-year old Macbook with a 5-year old Windows PC, you’ll know the difference.
In addition to free upgrades, macOS comes with an office suite, iMovie video editor, Garage Band, and many other apps provided at no cost. Not to mention the cross-device experience you get if you own an iPhone or iPad.
As a Windows 10 user, I couldn’t help but whine over how crappy is the built-in video editor in the Photos app. However, an area where Windows beats macOS by a considerable margin is the availability of games.
Anyway, if macOS is not your cup of tea, then you might want to try some Linux distro that is free and open source. Even if you have an older PC, there are many lightweight Linux distros that will breathe new life into it.
Nowadays, many OEMs have started to ship PCs preloaded with Ubuntu or some other distro that serves as an alternative to Windows 10. Of course, users might have to deal with the command line more often than Windows, but it’s an entirely different experience that’s up for grabs.
So, these are some steps that you can take after Windows 7 end of life. However, it’s entirely your decision whether you want to buy a new PC, switch your OS, or keep using Windows 7. But do keep in mind the security drawbacks involved.