Jim Fisher

Man, time flies, doesn’t it? It seems like yesterday that I was writing about the “end of support” for Windows XP. That was in 2014 when we were just babies! Anyway, it’s happening again soon. Microsoft will end “support” for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. That date will be here before we know it so some of us need to start preparing soon. Here’s everything you need to know:

Come January, you can still continue to use Windows 7 just as you always have. Nothing will change regarding your experience. However, Microsoft will stop offering security and stability updates; you know, those “Windows Updates” that bug the stew out of you from time to time. Without those updates, you computer will theoretically become more susceptible to security threats such as viruses.

After a year or so, major browser developers such as Firefox and Chrome will also stop issuing updates. This will eventually result in you not even being able to access your favorite websites.

It also means that manufacturers of peripherals such as printers and add-on devices will stop providing software for those gadgets. For example, if your printer conks out after January 2020 and you have to purchase a new one, that printer may not come with software that makes it work with your old Windows 7.

So you may find yourself having to upgrade to Windows 10 or buying a new computer whether or not it’s a convenient time to do so.

Come January more software vendors will stop offering support for anyone using Windows 7. They won’t even talk to you unless you purchase new software. This kind of thing won’t really kick into gear for at least another year or three but you need to be thinking ahead if you depend on one kind of software for your hobby or profession.

Business users will witness the biggest impact of this discontinuation. Businesses with 5, 10, or more computers need to start planning for the expense and downtime of upgrading or purchasing new computers.

Many of my clients who are “of a certain age” have been reluctant to adopt Windows 10. I get it. It’s different. You’ll have to learn a couple of new things for sure. But I’m afraid you’re going to need to accept your fate and start learning a new trick in Windows 10.

Microsoft officially discontinued their “free” upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 in 2017. However, tech-savvy readers can still upgrade for free if they know their way around a computer. Unfortunately, the details of how to do this are far too much for my little column, but it can be done. Windows 10 does generally run faster than Windows 7--even on old hardware--so upgrading can breath new life into your old computer. Plan ahead!

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com