The Evolution of Windows and the end of an era with Windows 7 – Pt 2

Continuing the development of Microsoft Windows through the years, you’ll remember we ended the last article with the disaster called Vista.   Biting off more than they could chew, Vista caused grief for IT departments around the world.

As with ME, Microsoft followed the disaster (Vista) with another success – this time Windows 7.   Released in 2009, it fixed most of the issues with Vista and once again became an OS that everyone could rely on.   In less than two years, they sold 450 million copies!

Today, 10 years later – around half the PCs I see are still running Windows 7.   People love it – easy to use and reliable.

In what was becoming a cycle, it was followed by another disaster – Windows 8.   This evolution was targeted at the new market of touch screen computers.   It was designed with a touch friendly interface that worked with fingers better than a mouse.   The problem was that most computers were still mouse based and not touch.   The new interface was a confusing mishmash of mouse control and finger control.   To this day, I still struggle to find certain settings when using Windows 8!

To its rescue came Windows 10 – it brought back a lot of the mouse-based controls and hid the touch interface unless it was really needed on a touch compatible computer.

Controversially, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would become the last version of Windows!   Instead they’d be releasing incremental updates, to improve security and add features.   We’ll have to see if this holds true over time.   Windows isn’t the cash-cow it used to be for Microsoft – instead they’re focusing on services and subscriptions such as Office 365.

In fact, for a period, Microsoft took the unusual step of allowing anyone with a Windows 7 or 8 machine to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.  By March 2019, Windows 10 was installed on 400 million computers!

Here’s a breakdown of Windows versions in use as of July 2019:

Windows 10    58.63%

Windows 7      31.22%

Windows 8.1   5.59%

Windows 8      2.25%

Windows XP    1.65%

Vista                0.59%

Other               0.06%

As you can see – Windows 7 still has a large share of installations.  You may still be using Windows 7 yourself?   If that’s the case, you may start seeing warnings that support for Windows 7 will end in January next year.   But what does that mean – will your computer stop working?

No, January 2020 is the date that Microsoft will stop officially supporting Windows 7, but that doesn’t mean that your computer will suddenly fail.  Instead, what it means is that Microsoft will no longer release updates for Windows 7.

So, you can continue using Windows 7, but should you?   Well it depends what you use your computer for and how much you rely on it.   Updates keep your computer secure and help to combat viruses and scammers.

It’s a continuous battle between hackers/scammers and Microsoft/.  Vulnerabilities are continually being found that would allow hackers access to your machine.   Microsoft are fixing these vulnerabilities by releasing updates, but that’ll stop come January.   This opens up opportunities for viruses and malware to get on to your computer.

Now if you only browse known, safe websites, and you have up-to-date Antivirus, you’re somewhat protected, but there’s always that doubt of what-if?   This is especially true if you use your computer for secure transactions such as online banking or shopping.

So, what should you do – upgrade Windows?  Unfortunately, the price for Windows 10 Home is $189 (+ tax).   And if you have Windows 7 Pro, the upgrade price is $260 (+ tax)!  Your computer may also be too old to run Windows 10 quickly enough, so you may be looking at memory/hard drive upgrades too.   At this point I’d suggest looking at replacing the computer instead of upgrading it.   Alternatively, you might want to look at a tablet such as an iPad instead.   It all depends on the spec of the computer and how you use it.

Don’t be pressured into taking action by thinking your computer will stop working in January, but it’s definitely worth looking into your options.   If your computer is running Windows 7, it’s going to be fairly old and now might be the perfect time for something new!