Each of us yearns for a simpler time. Kids stayed out to play until the streetlights came on, doors stayed unlocked, and Windows 7 was still supported by Microsoft. Unfortunately those days have come and gone, and Windows 7 joins the pantheon of Operating Systems that are referred to as “end of life.” This would be the part of the film where the music takes a decidedly sinister turn, and the softly lit montage of children playing hard cuts to something decidedly less nostalgic.
Things aren’t quite so gloomy however, as long as you take steps to ensure that you’re not caught unaware of the change in Windows 7 support. Consider yourself on the way, as you’re about to complete Step 1: find out what “end of life” means and what to do about it!
Throughout the life of an Operating System, the manufacturer will release updates, often referred to as patches. These may add new features, or address critical security vulnerabilities. While that manufacturer continues to patch up their previously released Operating System, they’re also working on releasing the next iteration. In Microsoft’s case, there have been two versions since Windows 7—Windows 8 and Windows 10. Now, you might be asking yourself just where Windows 9 is, and in this you and the author agree. Windows 8 was similar in many respects to Indiana Jones 4, in that we as a society have agreed to not talk about it and that it may never have happened. Windows 10 on the other hand addressed numerous issues found in Windows 7 and introduced myriad feature enhancements.
Think better and faster.
What this also means is that Microsoft is switching their development focus to Windows 10, necessitating that Windows 7 be sunsetted. The official terminology that Microsoft uses for this process is End of Life, sometimes abbreviated as EoL. Morbid though it may be, the explanation behind the nomenclature is somewhat mundane—when an Operating System is EoL, it will no longer be patched by the manufacturer.
Many of you reading this article might be thinking to yourselves “Great! You’re telling me I never have to sit and wait while my computer installs updated 1 of 37 again?” While the lack of annoying updates may seem like an unasked for bonus, what this really means that critical security flaws are no longer being patched. This is always a huge concern with older Operating Systems, and has led Microsoft to extend the lifecycle of some of their more popular variants, like Windows XP.
You could think of the situation like living in an old house with an alarm system—only in this instance 600 of your neighbors have copies of your key and there’s a billboard behind it advertising your alarm code. Windows 7 has been around a long time, and when it stops receiving updates to patch newly found security vulnerabilities, they will be exploited almost immediately; to steal your identity, install malware, etc.
Windows 7 will officially be EoL on January 14th, 2020. In the time between then and now, you must start planning. If you have any computers still running Windows 7, there’s no time like the present to upgrade to Windows 10. Additionally, if your home or business has multiple workstations running Windows 7, this should be a planned process, as the migration to Windows 10 or replacement of existing machines will necessitate some down time. In the event that you elect to upgrade existing machines to Windows 10 from Windows 7, make sure that any important data on them (like documents, photos, or videos) has been backed up prior to beginning the upgrade process. Finally, stay tuned for our article next month, where we’ll discuss EoL for Windows Server 2008.