On January 14, 2020 Microsoft will cease to write and distribute security patches for Windows 7. After this date, when any new security vulnerabilities are discovered, Windows 7 will remain exposed. This is effectively the ‘end-of-life’ date for Windows 7 for ALL users, both home and business. Your computer will continue to run, but it will be vulnerable to attack. By continuing to use Windows 7 after this date, you are inviting every nefarious actor on the internet to potentially access your data, steal your identity or at the very least, disrupt your ability to use that computer. Your computer could become part of a bot-net that spreads viruses to other computers, attacks websites or mines cryptocurrency using your processing power and electricity.
The end date for Windows 7 is less than two years away, but this date is closer than you think. Most businesses and individuals budget for costs and lost productivity when they replace a computer. If you are still running Windows 7 at home, or at work, it would make sense to think about when in the next two years it makes sense to upgrade to Windows 10, or replace these systems entirely.
If you decide to continue using the computer, Microsoft charges $165 for Windows 10 Home. You should only purchase Windows 10 Home for desktop computers used exclusively for non-business purposes. All laptops and business users should purchase Windows 10 Pro, $265, which includes full hard drive encryption called BitLocker and the ability to join a business network. The best practice to upgrade Windows is still to copy all documents including Word docs, PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, music and videos to another storage device (external hard drive, network location, or cloud drive) then wipe the computer and cleanly install Windows.
A much simpler, but more expensive route is to use this opportunity to purchase a new computer. Depending on the age of your prior computer, you will notice a significant improvement in performance and battery life by switching to a computer with an SSD (solid state drive). Laptops have become smaller and lighter by ditching the CD/DVD drive and limiting the external connectors.
If you do purchase a computer with Windows 10 Home, Microsoft will sell an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for $130. Pro is recommended for all business machines and all laptops.