Published: January 13, 2020
According to StatCounter, Windows 7 has about 26% of the total Windows market share, right behind Windows 10 at almost 66%. According to Microsoft, support for Windows 7 will end on January 14, 2020 (which is less than 24 hours away).
Microsoft has remained committed to providing 10 years of support for Windows 7. Once support ends, you will no longer have access to services such as Windows Update, leaving your PC insecure while on Windows 7. Tech support, online feature, and other parts of Windows 7 may become unavailable over time. Microsoft has announced that "Internet Backgammon and Internet Checkers, as well as Electronic Program Guide for Windows Media Center, are scheduled to be discontinued in January 2020."
For most users, the easiest option would be to simply get Windows 10, either with a new PC or by upgrading their current device. With Windows 10's automatic updating, feature upgrades, bug fixes, and security patches are all simply rolled out to your device, with virtually no hassle. This means your device will always stay up-to-date and secure.
Windows 10 offers an experience very close to Windows 7's, with the addition of a modern chrome-based web browser, new apps that simplify tasks, improved device management, cloud integration, far better security, and much, much more.
Microsoft 365 Business users have the option for a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 to Windows 10, and can upgrade any Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 Pro licenses for no additional costs.
If you or the device's users are already familiar with Microsoft Windows, I would recommend simply upgrading their system with Windows 10. If their device does not work with it, there are lots of great, inexpensive, modern PCs that can replace it.
If for some reason you do not want to use Windows, you could always use macOS, Linux, or a different UNIX system such as Oracle Solaris, *BSD such as FreeBSD and NetBSD, and more. Ease of access for these systems may vary. macOS, some Linux distros such as Ubuntu, Oracle Linux, Manjaro, and some of the other UNIX systems may be the best choice if Windows is not an option, or if you do not want Windows.
The user experience will not be the same as Windows, but for many things, this could be a pro to not using Windows. Many UNIX and Linux tasks may be simpler without potentially cluttered GUIs, and a lot of those tasks can be automated with scripts set to run whenever you want. For people with lower-end devices, UNIX and Linux typically will not use as much system resources as Windows does, letting you get more life out of the device.
Microsoft is offering the ability to purchase extended security updates for Windows 7, for while migrating to Windows 10 or non-Windows systems. This, however, can get expensive, and may not be completely worth it since their Windows 10 equivalents are free.
Not paying for extended updates and keeping Windows 7 would seem like an easier option, but because of the lack of security updates, your device will be left vulnerable to malware, viruses, spyware, etc.
If your device has access to critical information, that data will be at risk due to the growing number of discovered security risks that will be left unpatched. Even if you do not handle data for organizations, your own data is still at high risk. Without security patches, it will be easier for attackers to take any data, such as passwords, bank info, personal info, etc.
Windows 7 support ends in less than 24 hours. For your safety and security, upgrading to Windows 10 or replacing Windows with a UNIX or Linux based operating system is strongly recommended. What option are you considering? If you aren't on Windows 7, what advice do you have for those that still use it or older versions of Windows?