(Actually, you should have upgraded already…)

Long gone are the days when you could run an older computer with an old version of Windows.  In those days, if you were willing to live without the “latest and greatest” features, you had a choice and the consequences of using the older technology just weren’t so dire.  You might spend more time waiting for an older, slower computer to finish.  Or, maybe you could not enjoy video content as easily.  But, if the computer did what you needed it to do, then you did not feel forced to run on the endless technology upgrade treadmill.

Those days are gone!

Microsoft announced that on January 14, 2020, “Support for Windows 7 is nearing the end.”  They stated that after that date, they will not help you with any Windows tech problems if you are using Windows 7 and they will stop providing functional and security updates for the operating system.  You can still use it, but Microsoft and most technology consultants advise against that.

Windows 10, at the moment, is the latest and greatest version of Windows yet.  Some people do not like the new look and feel.  Some don’t like that the features and functions they know and love are either missing or not located where they expect to find them.  Some don’t like the amount of processor and memory and disk it requires.  There are many reasons not to like it.

On the other hand, there are reasons to like it.

It has better connectivity to The Cloud.  Windows 10 normalizes cloud computing for the average computer user.  In fact, many Windows 10 users are not really aware that their files are stored in the cloud in Microsoft’s cloud, OneDrive.  This, of course, is good and bad.  On the one hand, if ever the computer dies, the files are safe in the cloud.  But, on the other hand, if privacy is a concern, then one needs to opt out of the automatic cloud storage.

The user experience, while different from prior versions of Windows, is evolving and this evolution is in the right direction.  Microsoft has had many embarrassments with different releases of Windows.  Windows 8 introduced the Metro tile interface which made performing routine tasks painful.  Microsoft boasted about the adoption rates of the new interface but those using Windows 8 were using it mostly because it came bundled with their computer, not because they chose it.  Some new computer purchasers actually returned their Windows 8 computers and bought Windows 7 models as long as they were available.

Seeing that Windows 8 was hurting new computer sales, Microsoft offered a downgrade option that allowed Windows 8 computers to be downgraded to Windows 7 and then users happily went on buying new computers and using Windows 7 instead of Windows 8.

Microsoft realized that Windows 8 was never going to be a tech sensation.  When Windows 10 was released, it boasted the best of Windows 7 and the best of Windows 8.  So, Windows 10 still has the tile interface, but it is not like the Windows 8 Metro interface.  It is there when you click the “Start” button, but users are never required to even click a tile to get anything done.

Windows 10 still has stupid behaviors from decades past.  In the old days, when an app crashed or if Windows had a problem, Windows, thinking that the user had not yet been inconvenienced enough with the technology fail, delayed the user from restarting by gathering information about the computer and the crash and sending it to Microsoft.  In the old days, users thought that Microsoft was diligently reviewing every failure and making corrections to prevent it from happening again.  But it happened again anyway.  Now, of course, we realize that Microsoft is not fixing these failures and their “please wait while we gather information” type of delay is just that, a delay.  It isn’t going to make your computer work better.  It just slows you down.

While a better connection to the cloud is good and a smarter, easier user interface is also good, those are not reasons enough to switch to Windows 10 immediately.

The one big reason to switch to Windows 10 is security.

Even though Windows 7 has been supported and there have been security updates issued for it, it is still not as secure as Windows 10.  In the summer of 2019, the WannaCry ransomware virus and various mutations of it hit computers all over the world; encrypting files and holding the decryption key hostage until a ransom was paid.  Even computers with up-to-date antivirus and firewalls fell victim to the ransomware.  But Windows 7 computers fell victim to this malicious software (“malware”) at a much higher rate than Windows 10 computers.

Some Windows 10 computers were also infected but in general, Windows 10 was (and is) much more resistant to the current forms of malware out there now.  Businesses that had networks using both Windows 7 and Windows 10 computers noticed that only their Windows 7 computers caught the virus.  Even as all the computers were using the same security software and the same versions of Office and other applications, the Windows 10 computers held their own.  The Windows 7 computers got sick and many died, euphemistically in some cases and quite literally in others.

At this point, anyone running Windows 7, whether at home or in the office, should be considering either replacing that computer or upgrading it to run Windows 10.  You might think you are not an interesting target for malware producers.  Remember that the virus banging on the door of your computer or your network doesn’t know what is there until it is inside.  And while you might think you have nothing too sensitive on your computer, can you live without it if it gets encrypted by ransomware and you don’t have a plan to recover those files?

Windows 7 had a nice, long, 10-year run.   10 years in computers is like 30 years in cars.  But obsolete computers and operating systems don’t become more valuable over time as well-kept antique cars do.

Make the switch to Windows 10.   If you need help understanding or deciding, contact your favorite computer support shop or person.  Or, contact Landau Consulting and we will guide you through the decisions and options for secure computer use for the years to come.