It is still one of the most widely used operating systems. But Microsoft has discontinued support for Windows 7 on 14.01.2020. We have summarized the possible consequences for users.
As early as December, Microsoft pointed out once again that it was discontinuing its support for Windows 7 after more than ten years. If you use the operating system, your computer will continue to function. However, you will have to do without Microsoft support for the following points in the future:
- Technical support in case of problems
- Software updates
- Security updates or problem fixes
In addition, support for the server operating systems Microsoft Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will also be discontinued.
What are the possible consequences of the end of Windows 7 support?
As the operating system with the world’s second largest market share (26.64%) in December 2019, many users will be affected. For the B2B sector in particular, things could get messy:
Long-term consequences for the smooth functioning of your end devices
Presumably, your computers will continue to function smoothly for some time. But without updates, you will run into problems sooner or later. Because minor system errors will no longer be fixed and newer programs will no longer be compatible with your older system after a certain point.
Reduced security for your end devices
Without regular software updates, previously undetected security gaps in your systems will remain open. Also, new security gaps due to permanent technical development will not be fixed either. Cyber criminals are just waiting for such an opportunity to penetrate foreign systems and pursue their own interests.
Data protection requirements
In the 2018 EU General Data Protection Regulation, Article of Principles 5 requires appropriate technical and organizational measures to be taken to protect personal data in order to ensure an adequate level of security. In order to assess whether the measures are appropriate, the criterion of “state of the art” is often used. In this day and age, technology is developing at breakneck speed, so protective measures must be geared to current developments. When using software that does not install regular security updates, this can be doubted. To be on the safe side, you should consult with your data protection officer to be prepared for potential problems in the event of a data protection incident.
Effects on warranties and the like
You should also keep in mind that some warranties are only valid if you take sufficient security measures for your equipment. It is best to check your documentation for this.
What can I do after Windows 7 support ends?
Buy a new device with a new operating system
To avoid the consequential problems of the end of support, you can of course buy a new device with the latest operating system. Even though modern devices are usually more powerful, there is of course a cost involved.
Special support for business customers
For corporate customers of Windows 7 SP1, there is an exclusive support in which security updates continue to be provided – Windows 7 Extended Security Update.
The service will be available for large companies but also for small and medium-sized enterprises until January 2023. However, it is subject to a fee. Further information can be found here.
Switch to another operating system
It is also possible to update your system from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Sometimes it is reported that this is even possible free of charge and this is how it works:
- You have an official Windows license for Windows 7 that is also activated OR you have a valid “Windows 10” product key. Note whether the license key refers to the “Home” or “Professional” version. If you only have a “Win10” key for the “Home” version, you may have problems when switching from Win7 Professional to Win10 Home. What can happen? You have to go to the nearest dealer and buy a “Windows 10 Pro” license key there.
- You have an up-to-date backup of your data (data backup).
- You have checked all the programs you use to make sure they are also compatible with Windows 10. Sometimes you have to reactivate third-party programs because the operating system has changed.
- Your computer can “cope” with Windows 10 (it is not older than 5 years or was technically on a comparable level before, ~8GB RAM, at least 12GB free on the hard disk, multi-core CPU).
- You have administrator rights for the computer.
- Your computer is connected to the Internet and you have enough bandwidth to complete the many downloads of updates that you are about to do.
- If you have a network administrator, he should install the update or at least agree to it. Remember: Never bypass the administrator!
- In the power-saving settings you should not have set the unused PC to shut down automatically in the next hour if you do not want to jiggle the mouse regularly. Downloading takes a while.
- Go to Microsoft and search for Media Creation Toolkit. You can download the tool by clicking on “Download Tool”. Don’t get confused, the page looks different for “Windows 7” users than for “Windows 10” users. It is also hard to find via Google and many freeloading sites only claim to offer the tool. Microsoft actually doesn’t want people to upgrade so easily for free and would rather sell new Windows 10 licenses.
- Start the tool (with administrator rights) and select “Upgrade this PC now” and click on “Next”. From now on it should continue automatically and it will take several hours – depending on the internet connection – until all files have been downloaded and the upgrade runs through. The user can easily answer all further questions asked by the tool. Please note: During the download, the tool still shows the button “Continue” – do not click again, no matter how boring it gets. Only when the tool displays new messages or the upgrade finally starts do you have to become active again. Unfortunately, the buttons remain unchanged after the click.
- After the successful installation, the new Windows 10 downloads heaps of updates, it may well take several reboots and several hours. Ideally, you should do this at the weekend or at a time when no one has to use the PC.
- Afterwards, check all programmes, print out a test page, check data, set your preferred browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome) as default again and update it as well – get used to the new look and feel of Windows 10.
- Windows 10 comes with a few surprising features (such as the Cortana voice assistant). In addition, Win10 transmits a lot of data to Microsoft in the default settings, which you should correct in the settings under “Privacy”.
If something has gone wrong:
- Fortunately, you have previously saved all data in an up-to-date backup! It may be that Windows 10 refuses the upgrade. In this case, a 30-day trial version is usually installed, which you then have to activate. The free upgrade is not a right of use per se but is only tolerated by Microsoft – to get rid of the outdated Windows versions that pose a significant threat to cyber security.
- The new Windows 10 version deactivates itself if you change the motherboard, for example, and even then you usually have to buy a new, regular “Windows 10” licence.
Switching to an open-source operating system such as Linux is also an option. However, this involves a little more effort and can have inconvenient consequences, for example that you can no longer use certain programs. So before you change your operating system, you should find out whether such changes have consequences – for example, for the programs you use, data protection strategy or even the functionality of your computer (especially with older models).