Close to 450 million devices are currently running Windows 7 according to an estimate by Computerworld. If you are one of those users, you need to know that Microsoft is officially ending support for the operating system come January 15th. What does this mean? Will my computer suddenly stop working? The simple answer is No, you will still be able to use Windows 7. What is happening, computers running Windows 7 will no longer receive free updates and security patches after this date. This means that you run the risk of having security flaws on your system that hackers and other bad people could take advantage of to take control of your system or steal your information. Additionally, you will not receive technical support from Microsoft.

Windows 7 users will receive an on screen message that their system is out of date starting 15th January thanks to the notification built into the December update KB4530734 from Microsoft. The message will say “Microsoft strongly recommends using Windows 10 on a new PC for the latest security features and protection against malicious software.” It is important to note that Windows 7 business customers who paid for extended security updates will still receive these for an additional 3 years. Google has declared that users of it’s Chrome browser will continue to receive support on Windows 7 until 2021 at the very least if not longer.

So what are your options? Firstly you can upgrade to Windows 10, the latest version, if your hardware will support it. Below we list the minimum requirements to upgrade to Windows 10 as stated by Microsoft on their website.

  • Latest OS: Make sure you’re running the latest version—either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800 x 600

If an upgrade is not an option or you just want to stick to Windows 7 for now, you must focus on keeping your system secure which will make it less vulnerable to threats. You can read our article on how to make your Windows system more secure, but we will summarise key points here.

  • Use an Anti-virus software that will still be updated after Windows 7 is phased out.
  • Scan your system with a good free anti-malware utility such as Malwarebytes.
  • Don’t open or download files or email attachments that you do not recognise or trust. Check our article on how to identify dodgy or scam emails.
  • Backup your current system and all important files, make sure the backup is on a separate external hard drive. That way if your system is infected, your backup should remain safe.
  • Ensure all your installed software is up to date and if not, install the latest updates.
  • Make sure your Internet browser is secure and up to date, otherwise it can act as an entry point for malicious people to gain access to your system or personal information.
  • Ensure your Windows Firewall is switched on.

We hope this helps you going forward with Windows 7 until you upgrade to a newer more secure version of Microsoft Windows.