The Windows 7 end of life has finally arrived. As of January 14th, 2022, Microsoft has stopped support for the 11-year-old operating system. However, despite its age, Windows 7 was and still is loved by a huge population, many of whom are not fond of Microsoft’s current operating system – Windows 10.
So, what does this mean for Windows 7 users? Do you really have to make an upgrade to Windows 10? Are there any other alternative OSes worth checking out? Or is there any way to still keep using Windows 7? We know you have a lot of questions in your mind. So, without keeping you waiting any longer, here is all you need to know about Windows 7 End of Life and what to do from here.
When will Windows 7 Support End?
Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended way back on January 13, 2015. This meant that no new features would be added further down the road, and users couldn’t make any warranty claims beyond this point.
After this, Microsoft offered five-years extended support to users so they can gradually make the upgrade to Windows 10. Now, as of January 14th, 2022, we are officially in Windows 7 end of life.
It’s almost been around a month since Windows 7 support ended. However, if you own a Windows 7 PC you might notice that it is still functional. Some users have noted a bug where their screen goes black, but that’s pretty much it. So, is Windows 7 still operational?
Well, yes and no! Windows 7 end of life doesn’t mean that the OS will cease to function. But it means that Microsoft will no longer be supporting the OS. You will stop receiving updates and bug fixes, including security patches. This puts your system under increased vulnerability to viruses, malware and all other forms of cyber threats.
Here is a more in-depth look at what it means to be using Windows 7 after January 14th, 2022.
Windows 7 End of Life: What happens when Windows 7 Expires?
As we just mentioned, with the Windows 7 end of life phase, Microsoft will cease support for all PCs running the operating system. This means that users won’t be able to access Microsoft’s help and support, and neither will they receive any security patches or updates.
According to Microsoft, all related services to Windows 7 will slowly stop working. This includes certain games like Internet Backgammon, Internet Checkers and even the Windows Media Center. Not to mention, support for Internet Explorer on Windows 7 will also be discontinued and might not run properly.
With that being said, your PC will still be functional. You will be able to run all your favorite third-party applications including games and productivity software. And if you use Chrome for casual web browsing, then also, you shouldn’t face any problems – as far as running the program is concerned.
However, with the increased vulnerability to various security threats, it is worth asking whether it will be a good idea to keep using Windows 7? In fact, if the unsupported OS maintains a large user base, it will incentivize malicious users to create viruses and malware targeted at the vulnerable platform.
Windows 7 End of Life: What should you do if you’re still on Windows 7?
We are about one month into the Windows 7 end of life phase. If you are still using the OS, then we would highly recommend that you stop doing so. Each passing day puts you at a higher risk of getting hacked or getting infected with malware. As such, there are a couple of things you can do right now –
- Upgrade to Windows 10
- Install Linux
- Get a Mac
- Use Windows 7 Offline
Upgrade to Windows 10
The obvious thing you should do is to upgrade to Windows 10. If you have been putting it off till now, it is high time you make the jump.
However, we are aware that some users are still on Windows 7 because they just don’t like what Microsoft has done with Windows 10. Some have raised an issue with their new Metro UI not being user-friendly. Whereas another group of users didn’t appreciate that Windows 10 requires users to install updates on a routine fashion.
Admittedly, Windows 10 does have its drawbacks. And if these are the reasons why you are not looking to make the upgrade, then here are some alternatives you can consider.
You can ditch Windows completely and install Linux. You might have heard that Linux isn’t user-friendly but that’s not the case anymore. In fact, there are versions of Linux (also known as Linux distros) like Linux Mint, which offers a GUI very familiar to that of Windows.
Get a Mac
There is also the option to join team Apple and get a Mac. If your PC is old and you have been meaning to make an upgrade, then buying a Mac might be one of the best alternatives to Windows 7.
Use Windows 7 Offline
We do understand if you don’t want to forsake the convenience of a familiar and functional operating system. In that case, we have a fourth option – use Windows 7 offline.
Without being connected to the internet, you don’t need to worry about getting infected with viruses and malware, and so the lack of security updates and bug fixes don’t matter. In fact, this is the best option for users who mainly use Windows 10 for using specific software for video/photo editing, graphic designing, and so on.
However, if you need internet connectivity, then stick with any of the first three options. If you are having any trouble with upgrading to Windows 10 or using Linux or Mac, then we have included a detailed in-depth guide to help you out.
Windows 7 End of Life: How to Upgrade to Windows 10?
Microsoft used to offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 users, but that ended way back in July 2016. But as of now, with the Windows 7 end of life phase, there are no ways to get a licensed free copy of Windows 10.
As such, you will have to either purchase a new license for Windows 10 and install it on your PC or upgrade to a new laptop or PC that comes with Windows 10 pre-installed.
Purchasing a new license does seem like the more affordable option. However, do note that if you use a really old system, then you might run into some hiccups. First of all, the specs might not be enough to run Windows 10 in the first place. You might even face some compatibility issues that might lead to reduced functionality.
Here is the official statement from Microsoft showcasing the minimal requirements for running Windows 10:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard drive size: 32GB or larger hard disk
- Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 800×600
You should also take a look at this list of compatible processors to see if your CPU is on here.
Now with that being said, as you load more apps and files, you will need more storage space and the appropriate RAM to run those applications. These are just the minimum basic requirements you need to run Windows 10.
If your PC or Laptop has these requirements (preferably better) then go ahead and purchase a copy of Windows 10. Otherwise, it is recommended that you upgrade to one of the latest Windows 10 laptops or prebuilt systems with built-in Windows 10.
Windows 7 End of Life: How to Move to Linux?
Now, after Windows 7 end of life, if you don’t want to upgrade to Windows 10 but feel okay with migrating to a new operating system, then Linux is worth a consideration. Not only is it completely free to use, but they are super lightweight, so you can run them on your old hardware. Furthermore, over the years Linux has become extremely user-friendly boasting an intuitive GUI – many of which mirror Windows 7 UI.
The different versions of Linux are known as Linux distros or distributions. Now, the market has tons of these distros and you can get overwhelmed when deciding which one to pick. One of these popular distros that you might have heard of before is Ubuntu. However, if you are looking for a familiar UI similar to Windows 7 we recommend going for Linux Mint.
The only problem that you might face would be software compatibility. Many of the popular applications you likely use with Windows, including Microsoft Office as well as Adobe’s suite of Creative Cloud apps don’t work natively on Linux.
But if you have to use them, then there are workarounds. For example, you can use a virtual machine to emulate Windows or use Wine – a compatibility layer for running Windows apps on Unix-based OSes like Linux and Mac.
Now with that being said, this isn’t to imply that Linux is lacking in terms of apps. In fact, all open source applications, as well as popular freeware, has a Linux compatible version. This includes the likes of Firefox, Google Chrome, and many more. There are also alternatives for popular Windows apps, like Libre Office which is an open-source alternative for Microsoft Office and comes packed with almost all the features.
Windows 7 End of Life: Switch to a Mac
Although Linux has evolved over the years, delivering a more polished and intuitive GUI catered towards the average users, it still has a long way to go before it becomes as user-friendly as Windows or Mac.
Now with Windows 7 end of life phase inhibiting you from securely using the operating system, you do have a legitimate reason to try out Apple’s offering for desktop computing. The UI is super intuitive, but it might take a little to get used to it as you are coming from a Windows background.
Furthermore, you won’t run into any issues running your favorite applications. Almost all the software that you used with Windows is also available on Mac. The only catch is that you will need to purchase most of these applications.
In fact, that is the biggest complaint with using a Mac – it’s super pricey. Not only do you need to purchase most of the software, but the device itself is also going to cost you a fortune – whether it be getting a new Macbook or Macintosh desktop.
But with that being said, if you are a fan of well-engineered systems that has premium written all over it, then you won’t be disappointed with Apple’s line of products. Furthermore, they harmoniously blend hardware and software, meaning your system will not only deliver better performance, but they will age better too – lasting you way longer than the average Windows PC or laptop.
Windows 7 End of Life: Can you Install Mac?
Buying a Macbook or Macintosh is expensive. So is there a way to install Mac on your existing system, similar to how you can just buy a license for the Windows OS without having to purchase any hardware.
Well, technically yes! But Apple does frown on such behavior. However, there is a large community around installing macOS on your PC (rather, non-Apple hardware). Say hello to Hackintosh – macOS running on unauthorized hardware!
This was made possible after Apple transitioned to using Intel processors in exchange for PowerPC. As such, if your PC or Laptop is running on an Intel processor that is compatible with macOS, you can install it on your hardware without having to purchase an expensive Macbook or Macintosh.
Here is a complete guide on how to create a Hackintosh system to help you out.
Windows 7 End of Life: Make sure to back up your data and documents
Now whatever you do, whether it be upgrading to Windows 10 or migrating to a different OS, don’t forget to create a back up of all your data and documents.
If you are making the upgrade, there might be an option to install Windows 10 over Windows 7. This option states that it will let you keep all your data and installed applications. However, it is advised that you perform a fresh installation to ensure zero problems. Once Windows 10 has successfully installed, you can restore all your files from the backup.
And it goes without saying that if you are migrating to a new OS, then also you will need to create a backup and restore it on the new OS.
As such, creating a backup is super important as early as possible.
Another compelling reason would be that with Windows 7 end of life, your system is at an increased risk of cyberattacks. As such, creating a backup of all your data and files will keep them protected from viruses and malware.
Windows 7 End of Life: Use Windows 7 Offline
The main issue with Windows 7 end of life is that Microsoft will stop providing it with regular security patches and bug fixes. This makes it more vulnerable to viruses and malware and the ever-growing risks of cyberattacks. However, Windows 7 will still be usable and will be able to run all your favorite programs and applications.
So why not use Windows 7 offline? In fact, that is actually a solution that allows you to keep using the OS post Windows 7 end of life.
By disconnecting your system from the internet, there is no way viruses and malware can get into your computer. Yes, there is that likely threat of viruses entering your system through USB devices. But you can just scan/clean them on a separate system before attaching it to your Windows 7 PC.
In fact, this is going to be the perfect solution for users who simply use their Windows 7 system as a workstation for editing videos, photos, or simply creating graphics and so on. As long as all the files you will need are locally stored on your system, then you have nothing to worry about.
Windows 7 End of Life: What Should You Know if You Want to Continue using Windows 7?
If you want both Windows 7 as well as internet access, without worrying about security vulnerabilities, then that too is possible, but it is going to cost you. In fact, Microsoft is offering paid extended security updates (ESU) up until January 2023.
Now it is worth noting that the Windows 7 ESU will only be available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers who received their copy of the OS in volume licensing. Furthermore, users on Windows software assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 education subscription will be provided with a discounted price.
Therefore there will be no ESU services for users on Windows 7 Home edition.
The software giant also stated that as of December 1st, 2019 businesses of any size that are using Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise can purchase the ESU on a per-device basis through the Cloud Solution Provider.
So theoretically, you can get access to ESU by showcasing yourself as a one-person business. However, most of these Cloud Solution Providers are only selling to business with more than 100 employees, which can be a problem.
Nevertheless, if you were using Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise purchased through a volume licensing, or you manage to find a Cloud Solution Provider that is willing to sell you ESUs for continued usage of Windows 7, then it is going to cost you the following amount:
For the first year – January 2022 to 2022, ESU prices will be $25 per device for Enterprise users and $50 per device for Professional users.
For the second year – January 2022 to 2022, ESU prices will be $50 per device for Enterprise users and $100 per device for Professional users.
For the third and final year – January 2022 to 2023, ESU prices will be $100 per device for Enterprise users and $200 per device for Professional users.
So if you have that much money to spare, you can potentially keep using Windows 7 with full support till January 2023.
Windows 7 End of Life: What Does it Mean for Companies and Businesses?
The announcement of Windows 7 ESU and the coming of Windows 7 end of life means companies and businesses will have to spend a fortune if they plan to keep using Windows 7 securely (there is no question of using it insecurely, compromising company as well as user data).
Since the Windows 7 ESUs are sold on a per device basis, the more systems you have, the costlier it’s going to get.
Now, migrating all computers to Linux of Mac isn’t going to be a plausible solution. But how about using Windows 7 offline?
In most cases, the main reason for sticking with Windows 7 is to access legacy applications. Therefore, companies can isolate Windows 7 systems running that software and keep them cut out from any network that might put it at risk.
Besides this, companies should also consider investing in an enterprise-level anti-virus solution to protect the system from the off-chance of getting infected with viruses and malware.
However, upgrade to Windows 10 after Windows 7 end of life is still the most cost-effective and easier option while looking at the alternatives.
Do you still have some burning questions regarding Windows 7 end of life support? Well, we have arranged this FAQ section to help you out. However, if you don’t find answers to your question then don’t hesitate to leave it down in the comments below.
Can I still use Windows 7 after 2022?
Yes, you can still use Windows 7 after 2022. However, as of January 14th, 2022 Windows 7 will be in its end of life phase and stop receiving any security updates or bug fixes making it insecure and vulnerable to cyber threats.
What does end of life mean for Windows 7?
End of life for Windows 7 basically means that Microsoft will stop supporting the OS and you won’t receive any software updates, security patches, or bug fixes. The same goes for Internet Explorer for Windows 7. Also, certain applications like the Windows Media Center and Microsoft Game will cease to work.
What happens when Windows 7 support ends?
When Windows 7 support ends with Windows 7 end of life, you won’t get any more technical assistance or software updates from Windows Update. This puts your system at risk from cyber threats like viruses and malware. And in case something goes wrong, Microsoft’s technical team won’t be there to help you.
How long will Windows 7 Embedded be supported?
The mainstream support for Windows 7 embedded system ended back in October 11th, 2016. However, these devices are currently under extended support that will last until October 12th, 2022.
How Can I Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free?
Microsoft used to offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7,8, and 8.1 users, but that ended back on July 29th, 2016. Currently, you need to either purchase a PC or laptop with Windows 10 preinstalled, or you can purchase a license for Windows 10.
Can I Get Windows 7 ESU for a single user?
Technically yes! Microsoft is providing its Windows 7 ESU to Windows Enterprise and Windows Professional users on a per-device basis, irrespective of the size of the business.
These licenses are only sold to users who got their copy of Windows 7 through volume licensing or via the Cloud Service Provider. However, many Cloud Service Providers aren’t providing ESU to businesses with less than 100 systems.
Verdict: Our Thoughts on the End of Windows 7
When Windows 7 was released back on October 22nd, 2009, Microsoft promised 10 years of product support, and they sure did – till January 14th, 2022. But now as Windows 7 loses support, users are left with only a few options.
Getting a Windows 7 ESU is just delaying the inevitable. If you are planning on purchasing this for your company or business, you can get it for one year, during which you can upgrade your systems as well as staff to work with Windows 10. However, users who basically run Windows 7 for personal use, this isn’t a very viable option.
Now, if you are adamant about not upgrading to Windows 10, then migrate OS to Linux or Mac is worth a consideration. Alternatively, there is always the option of using Windows 7 offline and protecting yourself from any virus or malware attacks.
Although we are nearly a month into the Windows 7 end of life phase, the operating system is still somewhat safe to use as long as you run a potent anti-virus. But with that being said, as the months roll by, more and more bad actors will learn various ways to exploit the unsupported and outdated operating system.
So, make up your mind now how to want to proceed ahead and do it quickly.