Microsoft has been warning us for almost a year now and the day has come that Windows 7 has reached EOL and is officially dead for consumers. That means if you are still running the operating system, you will no longer receive security updates, effectively leaving you vulnerable to any new security issues or attacks that may arise.
That being said, if you are currently sitting at work and your work computer is running Windows 7, don’t panic too much. It is possible that your employer has paid for extended security updates, which Microsoft will provide through 2023.
“Starting on December 1, 2019, businesses of any size with Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise will be able to purchase ESU through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year. Solidify your role as a trusted advisor as you work with your customers to ensure they get the security they need while they make their way to Windows 10. ”Microsoft
It’s not cheap, however, with the company charging $25-$50 per machine through 2020, and doubling it each year until it hits $100-$200 per machine in 2022. However, this option is only available to companies that use Windows Enterprise and Microsoft 365.
Businesses aside, what can you do if you’re still running Windows 7? When Windows 10 was first released back in July of 2015, Microsoft offered a free upgrade. That free upgrade was in place for about a year when Microsoft started charging consumers to upgrade. However, in most cases, you can still upgrade for free if you have a Windows 7 installation and still have your product key.
- As always, when upgrading any system, you should back up your important data
- Once done, head over to the Windows 10 update page
- Click the “Download tool now”
- Select the “Upgrade this PC now” button
- You can either start fresh or keep your personal files, however, both options will require you to re-install any apps and change any settings you had in Windows 7 after the upgrade
- After the upgrade is complete, you should have a digital license for Windows 10 which can be verified under Settings > Update & Security > Activation. If your copy is showing non-activated, you can try entering your Windows 7 installation key to activate it
If for whatever reason you can’t update, there are a few things you can do to help mitigate future risks:
- Update everything listed in today’s Patch Tuesday release
- Install an antivirus program
- Stop using Internet Explorer and use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox
- Update to Microsoft Office 365 or use something other like Google Docs/Sheets or LibreOffice
- Disable Java in your browser
- Disable Adobe Flash Player
- Make sure your user account is a limited user and only use an admin account when necessary
Regardless if you can still upgrade for free or have to purchase Windows 10, you’ll definitely want to upgrade as soon as possible so as not to be exposed to any new Windows 7 exploits or security issues as they arise.