If you were to ask anyone what their favourite Windows OS is, they’re very likely to say Windows XP or Windows 7. Sadly, the former is officially dead, and the latter will quietly disappear by this time next year.
As it stands, this quiet passing away is needed. Windows 7, while most certainly a great OS, is 9 years old. To put its age in perspective, the iPhone 3GS was launched that year. Windows 7 is so old that it’s no longer supported on newer hardware. Any updates, in fact, will have to be patched onto a framework that is very ancient.
Microsoft has already ended mainstream support for Windows 7 and will only continue to provide essential security updates through to 14 January 2020. Security updates are critical for the security of any person or organisation and for an OS, and given that a fair chunk of people are still using Windows 7 (35.63 percent of Windows users), this is cause for concern.
Microsoft’s current, modern OS, Windows 10, only has a 52.26 percent market share, and if its recent update woes are anything to go by, Microsoft isn’t working hard enough to endear the OS with users.
Once Microsoft ends support for Windows 7, your systems will be wide open to any form of attack. Microsoft does make exceptions for certain special use-cases for companies that are willing to pay a lot of money, but the average user had better start thinking about upgrading.
A free upgrade: If you’re using a genuine version of Windows 7 (or 8/8.1), simply download the Windows 10 installer and use your key. As long as the key is genuine, you’ll have a fully functional version of Windows 10 running on your machine. You might get the occasional nag screen reminding you to upgrade, but you can ignore that for now.
Free Windows 10 without piracy: Another option is to simply install Windows 10 without a key and use it. Yes, it’s that easy. Microsoft doesn’t disable an unlicensed Windows 10 copy. You won’t be able to change the wallpaper and there will be a permanent message at the bottom of your screen reminding you to upgrade, but for all intents and purposes, it’s a fully functional copy of Windows 10.
Do bear in mind that a while a private user can get away with doing this, companies will require keys for legal reasons.
Pay for Windows: At Rs 10,000 for the Home version, Windows 10 is far from cheap. However, if you’re going to be using your PC for a while, it’s a one-time investment. Microsoft claims that Windows 10 is the last major Windows release and that users will be continually upgraded, so there aren’t any yearly upgrades to worry about.
Windows alternatives: How about switching to another OS? Unless there are some specific Windows apps that you can’t live without, Linux, ChromeOS and macOS are great options for many users. With most work and entertainment shifting online, do you really need anything more than a browser, a media player, a text editor and an image editor? Many games and Windows apps can also be emulated on Linux and macOS.
Whatever the case, if you’re still on Windows 7, you only have one year to evaluate your options. If you value your data and privacy, upgrade, and as soon as possible.