The end of Windows 7 is coming in January – here’s what you need to know

After 14th January 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide updated or support for the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems. We’re aware that a lot of PCs (upwards of 30% in fact) still use Windows 7, so we wanted to make sure you’re aware that, if you’re still using it, you will need to take action.

Windows 7 goes end of life on 14th January 2020 – are you ready?

You may have installed the KB4493132 (catchy name) update to Windows 7 recently, which will issue reminders to users to upgrade to Windows 10 before the end of life date. While those reminders might be annoying, it really is important to realise that this operating system is coming to an end and it will become necessary for all users to move on from it before long.

Windows 7 has actually been in a period of “extended support” since January 2015, meaning that all warranty periods came to an end and Microsoft stopped adding new features; but the extended support meant that bugs and glitches have been fixed (or at least patched) However, after 14th January 2020, that will no longer happen so it makes sense to find an alternative. You’ll still be able to use it, in theory, but there won’t be any Microsoft support available should anything go wrong. Some tech sources also speculate that, if large numbers of people keep using it without any support, it could become a target for hackers.

There is an option for business users to extend the support from Microsoft but there will be a cost attached to it – around £20 per licence / device for the first year, which will double the year after. The clear intention is to phase out Windows 7 altogether so it’s probably worth making the jump now, rather than pushing the problem further down the line and incurring cost in the process.

So what next?

Which route will suit you best?

The most obvious course of action is to upgrade to Windows 10. This probably involves the least disruption and gives you the most familiar operating system replacement, and makes a lot more sense than going for Windows 8, which will also be phased out in the near future we would imagine. You should even be able to keep most of your files (though we would always recommend a full back-up before you upgrade, just in case!) However, it will involve spending some money on new licences, and it also won’t necessarily run on older computers, so it’s important to check the specs of your hardware and make sure it’s compatible up front. If your existing computers aren’t up to it, you could be looking at investing in newer hardware as well, or potentially upgrading your existing machines which might be more cost effective but isn’t always a long term solution.

Microsoft lists the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements as:

  1. Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC.

  2. RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.

  3. Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS.

  4. Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.

  5. Display: 800×600.

While these are the minimum specs, it’s probably safer to aim a little higher for optimum performance – maybe a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (more if you can) and a 160GB hard drive.

What if I don’t want to use Windows 10?

If you are looking for an alternative to Windows that is a lot more cost-effective you might want to consider switching to Linux as an operating system, which is an open-source operating system run by a community of developers so it’s regularly patched and updated. There are loads of different versions available (known as distributions or distros) – TechRadar has a good overview of some of the more popular ones here. 

It can be a good solution, particularly if you’re already familiar with Linux, but do bear in mind that it’s completely different to Windows so if you’re using Office programmes like Word, Excel etc, they won’t be compatible. There are usually free alternative options available but just spare a thought for how much you’re sharing files outside your own network, and whether compatibility is likely to be an issue.

You might also consider moving to a Mac system – as with many Apple options though, it’s not likely to be the cheapest option so make sure you weigh up the costs fully before committing to any particular route. It’s also worth noting that this is only really an option if you’re already using UT400; Unitrade 360 users would need to opt for Windows 10 or Linux, as there is no client version of the UT360 software for Macs.

If you need any guidance on how to use Windows 10, feel free to get in touch with us, or there are lots of guides around online – for a good overview, we like this one from TechRadar.

Keeping on top of your business tech can be a complex business but in an increasingly digital environment, it’s incredibly important. You could be missing out on great new advances and features, so it really is worth keeping up to date. If you have any questions, please do get in touch!

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