On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will end support for Windows 7. So there is little time left for users of the old OS to find an alternative. Here are the possible options.
As Microsoft has pointed out many times, “end of support” means that Windows 7 or Office 2010 will no longer receive any updates, including security updates. For the average user, there is no real choice but to upgrade to Windows 10. For the pro user, if their PC is covered by a Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise volume license, joined to a domain , his company can possibly pay Microsoft a royalty per machine to maintain support during the year 2020. But this option is reserved for company PCs, and is not accessible to the general public.
At this stage, several options are possible according to our colleagues at PC World, which are also valid for Windows 8.1, whose support ends in 2023.
Option one: ignore the deadline
Obviously, we do not recommend this first option. To ignore the deadline completely is to take a risk for your PC. For Microsoft, PCs running Windows 7 will simply no longer exist. Antivirus software, applications, utilities, games, and other third-party software will continue to work. But Microsoft will not update its browser software, and if a vulnerability is discovered in Windows 7, it will not be fixed. There will be no more technical support for Windows 7. In short, the user will be on his own.
Oddly, Microsoft has made an exception for Office, however. If you subscribe to Office 365 and continue to use Windows 7, you will still receive security updates for Office 365 for the next 3 years, until January 2023. But you will not receive any new features for Office 365, whereas this is one of the reasons which could justify the purchase of Office 365. Office 2010 and the new stand-alone Office suites will also be “supported”, but only if the problem is specific to Office and does not concern the interaction between Office and Windows 7. If so, Microsoft will not provide a solution.
Second option: buy a new Windows 10 license
The second possibility is therefore to upgrade an existing PC by purchasing a new Windows 10 license. At the time of writing this article, the price for a copy of Windows 10 Home was identical on a USB key and for downloading from the Internet, i.e. 145 €. At one point, it was possible to update your OS to Windows 10 just by clicking a button and signing up to get a free update. Unfortunately for latecomers, this is no longer possible today. This means that you have to pay 259 € to update an old system to Windows 10 Professional, or 145 € for Windows 10 Home (more than the introductory price). At this rate, Microsoft delivers a USB drive with Windows 10 software installed. By inserting it into their PC, the user can perform the necessary update.
Windows 10 Home page on the Microsoft site. (Credit: Microsoft)
Third option: upgrade to Windows 10 for free
There may be a third option. After the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft had given Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users a full year (until July 31, 2016) to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and until the end of 2017, publisher no. had not blocked a flaw in the assistance system to access it.
According to ZDNet reporter Ed Bott, it seems Microsoft never turned off Windows 10 update servers. It doesn’t hurt to try. You might get lucky and get to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 for free!
Go to the Windows 10 download page and download the upgrade tool. (Credit: Microsoft)
If you have a Windows 7 PC, just go to the Windows 10 download page and download the upgrade tool to your PC. (You will need to agree to the license terms.) Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home, and other Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate versions will be replaced by Windows 10 Pro. You can either upgrade the in-place version to Windows 10 directly on the PC, or download the tool to a separate USB stick (at least 8GB of free space is needed) or CD- R or rewritable DVD. This last option will allow you to upgrade multiple PCs.
Windows 10 Upgrade Tool window. (Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG)
Windows 10 Upgrade Tool gives the choice between upgrading the current PC and downloading the tool to a USB stick or DVD to upgrade other PCs. Note that you will still need a valid Windows 7 license for the tool to work. If for some reason Windows does not detect a license on the machine, it may need to be entered manually. You may need to recover the old Windows 7 license key – there are tutorials on license keys on this topic, in particular using the Magical Jelly Bean Key Finder. It also happens that the license key is written on a more or less visible sticker on the laptop or desktop machine. (The product key has five groups of letters and numbers, formatted as follows: xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx)
Moreover, “prevention is better than cure”. So, first and foremost, it is important to back up all the files that you want to preserve, and at a minimum, your documents and photos. This means that you have to copy these files to a backup hard drive, DVD or transfer them to the cloud. By default, Windows will keep the apps, settings, and files when it upgrades the system to Windows 10. (It is also possible to back up your files in Windows 7, and restore them later in Windows 10).
It’s hard to say how long the whole process takes. From downloading the tool and necessary files, to performing the upgrade, plus possibly downloading additional patches, it’s reasonable to allow at least an hour, and possibly more. The speed of the process will also depend on the speed of the broadband connection and whether the PC has a standard hard drive or an SSD.
When the update is complete, a Windows 10 Out of the Box (OOBE) screen may appear and prompt the user to sign in with a Microsoft account. (Credit: Mark Hachman / IDG)
Once the process is complete, it’s time to check the file status, see if your photos and documents have been preserved. It might also be a good time to recopy the files you have backed up, if they are missing. Also check applications, including anti-virus programs, to make sure license keys are still intact. This is also the time to familiarize yourself with the configuration of the new Windows 10 system and the personalization of the PC, to be sure to take full advantage of the OS.
If you are upgrading on older hardware, you might find that Windows 10 runs slower than Windows 7. This is simply due to the increased load that the new system places on the processor and hard drive. Resetting the PC can improve performance: click on the search box in the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, then type “reset” or “reset my PC”. A “Recovery” menu in Settings will then appear, and you will be given the option to reinstall Windows once more. This procedure can improve performance, but it also means spending more time updating.
Fourth option: buy a new PC
The last option is to simply buy a new PC to have fully updated hardware. By buying a recent PC, you will also have a much faster CPU, a better graphics processor, and it will probably be equipped with a super fast SSD. If you haven’t taken advantage of the Black Friday deals, look to the sales side with several opportunities.
Buying a Windows 10 laptop is clearly the easiest and most satisfying option to upgrade, but by far the most expensive. (Credit: Gordon Mah Ung)
The new PC is delivered with a Windows 10 license. After having configured and personalized the PC, there remains one last step: to migrate the contents of the old PC. If the new PC has an Intel chip, the founder offers a free copy of the venerable PCmover software to make it easier to migrate files from one machine to another.
On January 14, 2020, the official end of support for Windows 7, any PC running the older version of Microsoft’s OS will be exposed to malware attacks. And Microsoft will not provide any updates to correct the flaws. Since the end of support announcement, Microsoft has oscillated between quiet recalls and tougher, more frightening warnings. It is unclear how Microsoft intends to remind users once again that this time is definitely up. The deadline is looming, and it looks like the time to migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has arrived.