Windows 7 End of Support – What Will Happen and When?

When Will Windows 7 End Support?

Windows 7 end of support date has been set for after 14 January 2020.  At this time Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs currently running Windows 7.  There are still many users of Windows 7 and a lot of concern about the impact of Microsoft ending support for this version of Windows.

What Will Happen When Windows 7 Support Ends?

Firstly, do not be too concerned, your PC will not suddenly stop working after this date, nor will there be an immediate impact on the way you use your computer. There are however impacts that you should be aware of as discussed below.

Background – Windows 7

From the outset, we (at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service) believe that Windows 7 has been arguably the best operating system that Microsoft has produced so far, especially in terms of reliability and stability. Others may dispute this view and claim that this title belongs to Windows XP, but in terms of a 64-bit platform, we believe the prize firmly belongs to Windows 7.

The aim of this article is not to debate the merits and deficiencies of Windows 7 compared to Windows 8 / 8.1 or 10, but highlight a number of considerations that users need to keep in mind post-14 January 2020.

Why End Windows 7 Support?

There are good commercial reasons for Microsoft to officially retire their venerable OS (end Windows 7 support) and force you to adopt their Windows 10 product. It is likely, one way or another – either through the purchase of a new PC or the stand-alone purchase of the software itself – you’ll be spending money on a new Windows 10 licence.

What Is Meant By “Windows 7 End of Support”?

Put simply, Microsoft will no longer release new security and feature updates for Windows 7 after 14 January 2020.

Impact on Security, Internet Browsers & Applications

If you happen to rely on Microsoft Security Essentials for your internet/ browsing security, anti-virus (AV) and anti-malware needs, Internet Explorer (IE) or Edge as your web browser and other applications like Windows Media Player, you need to investigate the options and make some alternative arrangements once Windows 7 support ends.

Alternatives – End of Windows 7 Support

Those alternatives will include Google Chrome (at least in the short-term), Firefox and VLC.  In terms of AV and internet security programs, like Norton, AVG, Kaspersky, Trend Micro and McAfee, to name but a few, the situation may be a little more complex, as each software vendor will need to assess things like the global installed user base of Windows 7, their own product’s particular market share at a given time, and the R&D cost of keeping their products up-to-date to support the Windows 7 platform.

As for other Microsoft products like the various versions of Office (ie. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook etc), you may encounter compatibility problems when installing feature and security updates for these applications.

Given that Windows 7 market share is currently around 35 per cent, it will still prove commercially lucrative for certain software publishers/vendors (Microsoft excepted) to provide varying levels support for their Windows 7 products over the next few years.

Re-Installing Windows 7 After Windows 7 Support Ends

If you are intending to reinstall on an existing PC or a “new” PC for the first time, you will still be able to activate your copy of Windows 7 on-line.  Reinstalling on an existing computer shouldn’t pose a problem, provided you ensure you have the necessary device drivers available to complete this task.  If you are installing Windows 7 on a PC for the first time, it pays to ensure that the system will support it, in addition to the necessary device drivers.

For example on a desktop PC, if your system is a 6th generation Intel Core CPU and chipset or earlier, or an AMD AM3+ or earlier, you shouldn’t experience too many issues, if any. If however, the desktop system you are installing on is newer than the ones listed earlier (ie. Intel’s Core Kaby Lake, Coffee Lake 7th, 8th  or 9th generation CPU or AMD’s Ryzen AM4 or TR4 CPUs) you may encounter a range of problems during the installation phase. Also, Microsoft (with the cooperation of both Intel and AMD) effectively blocked your ability to receive updates for Windows 7 or 8.1 – long before the official end-of-support for both operating systems.

Moving From Windows 7, What Are The Options?

If after Windows 7 support ends you decide to move away from Windows 7 the easiest choice you have is to move to Windows 10.  Any new Windows-based PC that you can now buy, will have this installed as standard.

We recommend that you pay a little extra and get a system with the Professional version of Windows 10, rather than Home version.  That way, you have greater control over the endless stream of updates that Microsoft insists upon and the disruption that this often causes.

If your computer needs are modest (ie. you only use your PC for web browsing, word processing, spreadsheets, etc) you might be able to switch to a version of Linux.  It’s not the Windows operating system you’re used to, but it’s robust, secure and it works. We recommend using Linux Mint as one of the more popular options available, and it features the most Windows 7 – like the interface of all the Linux “distros”.

Another alternative is to make the switch to an Apple Mac and the Mac operating system. Given the range of considerations, you will need to make before taking this step, we’ll leave the pros and cons of taking this step for a future article.

windows 7 end of supportAuthor, Mark Kotorac
Owner and Technician
Affordable Computer Repairs and Service