As of today, January 14, 2020, Windows 7 has officially entered its end of life phase, meaning security updates and patches are no longer available free of charge to those still running the operating system. That leaves you with two options, either upgrade to Windows 10 or start paying for those updates.
Late last year, Microsoft confirmed that it would be offering a transition period for companies that want to retain their Windows 7 installations a little longer, citing the difficult economic climate. However, the company admitted that the extended support, which will last another three years until January 2023, will cost them money, so they’re passing on that cost to businesses who decide to retain Windows 7.
There are estimated to be around 200 million PCs around the world still running Windows, and if you’re not paying for the additional security updates, cybercriminals will be rubbing their hands together. That’s because any security issues in Windows 7 spotted from now on will not be patched, meaning you’re leaving yourself wide open for attack. That’s why many experts are recommending you cease doing anything private on a Windows 7 computer - whether it’s accessing your online banking or retaining confidential data.
When you boot up a Windows 7 PC today, Microsoft will make it abundantly clear that you need to switch to Windows 10 as soon as possible, with a fullscreen pop-up ad advertising the fact. That alone will be annoying enough for many users to make the switch, but it only applies to certain users. Domain-joined machines or machines in kiosk mode will not receive the warning.
Thankfully the upgrade to Windows 10 should be relatively pain-free, as for many it’s still offered as a free upgrade. The Windows 10 software should also still run on any PC that’s capable of running Windows 7, meaning the vast majority of Windows 7 users should be able to get going quickly, painlessly and easily.
For those who can’t, then you’ll just have to swallow the up to $100 a year per device charge that Microsoft has imposed for continued security updates for Windows 10. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind that you’ll remain secure for a few more years.