You have probably been hearing about how Windows 7 support is winding up this month.
This post will explain what it means and point you to the Microsoft resource that could still allow you to update to Windows 10 for free*.
The term used by Microsoft is “End of Life” and refers to the security updates that we get at least every month. After the January update, Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates or additional features from Microsoft and as a result will become a sitting target for attackers.
There are 3 ways to resolve this if you are using Windows 7.
- Disconnect your Windows 7 computer from the internet/network.
- Get a new computer.
- Upgrade your existing computer to Windows 10.
Option 1 is only really suitable if you have a Windows 7 computer that you rely on to operate or support a critical software package or odd piece of equipment that you cannot do without. To reduce the potential of attack, it is better to simply put your vulnerable computer out of harms way.
Option 2 clearly is the more expensive option but you get a brand new computer with warranty and that new computer feeling. Everything is fresh and fast. Your old Windows 7 computer can still be on hand should you need to access something but it should be disconnected like option 1.
Option 3 is the next best solution if you don’t want to shell out for a new computer and you need to use a network or the internet. This is the process that I will focus on.
Upgrading to Windows 10 thankfully is really straightforward.
It can be done without needing to burn USB or DVD media and it is really simple.
You will need:
- Your old computer (it must meet the system requirements which is 1Ghz CPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB Hard drive space recommended for 64bit install).
- An Internet connection (there is a bit to download so avoid doing this over a tethered mobile device).
- If you are on a slow connection (ADSL, NBN 12Mbps or less) some patience is recommended.
- An hour or so for the installation to complete once the initial download is completed.
Before you start, make sure that you have everything important backed up on an external drive or on a cloud service. If my years and years of experience has taught me anything it is that the unexpected often happens when you don’t plan for it. If you have a backup, you at least have a way out should anything go wrong.
Next you simply go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/software-download/windows10 and we can get moving.
The way the first few lines are worded can be a little confusing. It may say Create Windows 10 installation media and have a link to download the media creation tool but we still need to download the media creation tool as it has a feature that will allow you to upgrade the PC you are running this on.
From here you can just follow the instructions on the Windows 10 installation which I will just copy here so you can print out this article and follow along.
- Select Download tool, and select Run. You need to be an administrator to run this tool.
- On the License terms page, if you accept the license terms, select Accept.
- On the What do you want to do? page, select Upgrade this PC now, and then select Next.
- After downloading and installing, the tool will walk you through how to set up Windows 10 on your PC. All Windows 10 editions are available when you select Windows 10, except for Enterprise edition. For more information on Enterprise edition, go to the Volume Licensing Service Center.
- If you don’t have a license to install Windows 10 and have not yet previously upgraded to it, you can purchase a copy here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/get-windows-10.
- If you previously upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC and you’re reinstalling it, you don’t need to enter a product key. Your copy of Windows 10 will automatically activate later using your digital license.
- When Windows 10 is ready to install, you’ll see a recap of what you’ve chosen, and what will be kept through the upgrade. Select Change what to keep to set whether you would like to Keep personal files and apps, or Keep personal files only, or choose to keep Nothing during the upgrade.
- Save and close any open apps and files you may be running, and when you’re ready, select Install.
- It might take some time to install Windows 10, and your PC will restart a few times. Make sure you don’t turn off your PC.
Microsoft has done a great job in making the upgrade as simple as possible so most people should be able to complete this. There is nothing wrong with asking for help though if you get confused or stuck.
Windows 10 has proven itself to be stable and able to run on a wide range of computers.
Of course, there are other options to Windows like Linux for the adventurous. If you are looking for a version of Linux to get your feet wet, I would point you towards Elementary OS, Debian or Ubuntu.
*This is up to Microsoft. If they decide to charge you, expect to pay around $150 for a home license or more if you need the professional license.