When Windows 7 reaches its End of Life phase on January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop releasing updates and patches for the operating system. It’s likely that it also won’t offer help and support if you encounter any problems.
However, that doesn’t mean Windows 7 will stop working on January 14 2020 – you’ll still be able to use Windows 7 for as long as you want. So the good news is that you’re not going to wake up on January 15 to find your Windows 7 PC no longer boots up.
But just because you can continue to use Windows 7 in its End of Life status, it doesn’t mean you should.
The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that it won't be patched for any new viruses or security problems once it enters End of Life, and this leaves you extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats.
What's more, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, that could actually be a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses and other nasties at WIndows 7.
So, while Windows 7 will continue to work after January 14 2020, you should start planning to upgrade to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system, as soon as possible.
Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 has a number of benefits. For a start, because both operating systems are made by Microsoft the upgrade process is relatively easy, and in many cases you can keep your files on your PC.
This means you'll experience the minimum of disruption when upgrading to Windows 10. Most programs you use will have been updated to work on Windows 10 as well, and the layout and interface are similar to Windows 7, so you shouldn’t find it too hard to adjust.
If you want to upgrade to Windows 10, then you can buy a copy, download the installation file and run it to start the process.
While upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is the easiest solution, there are reasons why it won’t be right for some people. For a start, you’ll need to buy a Windows 10 license, and these can be quite expensive – if you were hoping to manage Windows 7’s End of Life without spending any money, this isn’t the way to do it.
Also, while Microsoft has done an admirable job of making Windows 10 able to run on older hardware, it’s still a modern operating system that might struggle to work well on your old Windows 7 machine.
Here’s the minimum specification for Windows 10:
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 20 GB for 64-bit OS.
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
Display: 800 x 600 resolution
If your Windows 7 machine doesn't meet these specifications you won’t be able to run Windows 10 – and even if your machine just meets the requirements, Windows 10 won’t run that well. We’d recommend at least a 2GHz dual-core processor, 4GB of RAM (8GB ideally) and a 160GB hard drive for Windows 10 to run well.
No matter which route you take, you should make sure that your documents are safely backed up. If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 on the same machine the transfer of your files is part of the process, but it’s best to back up just in case something goes wrong.