/ Technology

Are you ready for the end of Windows 7?

If you’re still using Windows 7, it’s time to take action. Are you planning to upgrade, or will you take another path?

Are you one of the 28% of Windows users who’s still running Windows 7?

If so, it’s time to bite the bullet and make plans to either upgrade your existing computer or treat yourself to a new one. 

That’s because Microsoft will stop supporting Windows 7 on January 14. This means no more new features, and most importantly, no more security updates. 

Moving from Windows 7 to 10: download our guide (.pdf, 3mb)

This doesn’t mean that a Windows 7 PC will suddenly stop working on January 14, but it does mean that it’s increasingly unsafe to use online: regular security updates keep devices safe from online threats.

The risks of unprotected PCs

For anyone tempted to think that they’re not at risk, it’s worth noting that according to the security firm Symantec, one in 10 URLs are malicious, 4,800 websites on average are compromised by having hackers add formjacking code to them each month, while one in 3,207 emails is a phishing attempt.  

it’s clear that having an unprotected PC puts you at risk – and it puts others at risk, too.

A PC that isn’t protected against new and emerging threats risks being co-opted by malware to become part of a botnet that can be used by cyber-criminals to carry out attacks, such as the one that crippled the internet on both sides of the Atlantic in 2016. 

The good news is that even quite old PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10, and we’ve got a guide to the system requirements.

It’s also possible you could still upgrade for free: we tested this method back in September and managed to upgrade a Windows 7 computer without having to pay for a new Windows 10 licence (although we can’t promise it will continue to work).

Yet despite all the warnings from Microsoft, independent security experts and our own Which? Tech Support team, the statistics show that a worryingly high number of people are still using Windows 7.

Even more alarmingly, there are still some out there using Windows XP!

What to do if your PC won’t take an upgrade

If you do want to carry on using it, you could try installing a different operating system if you’re feeling brave…

The most common alternative operating system is Linux, which is free to download, install and use. Because it’s open-source, there are a number of different versions, or ‘distros’, developed and maintained by the enthusiast community. 

One of the most user-friendly distros is called Mint, and there are a number of helpful guides online to get you started with it. Another popular distro is Ubuntu, which is similarly well-supported with online guides.

Alternatively you could re-purpose your Windows 7 PC as a Chromebook by installing Chrome OS.

If you’re determined to keep using Windows 7, you’ll first need to make sure it doesn’t go online again.

Once you’ve taken it offline, you could fill up its hard drive with your videos and use it as a storage device plugged into your TV via an HDMI cable, or you could carry on using it for writing and spreadsheets etc, which will be safe so long as you don’t connect it to the internet.

Moving on from Windows 7

If you’re not going to repurpose your Windows 7 PC as an offline device or with a new operating system, you could consider donating it to charity.

Just going to get rid of it? Make sure you dispose of it sustainably and securely.

Once you’re then ready to buy a new computer, we’ve got up-to-date reviews of laptops and desktops to help you choose. 

If you’re still using a Windows 7 PC, are you planning to upgrade, either to Windows 10 or to a whole new PC?

Or are you thinking of making the jump to a Chromebook or a Mac?

And if you’re planning on holding out and sticking with Windows 7, are you worried about the threat from malware? Let us know what you’re doing in the comments below.

Comments

Kate, that looks like a very comprehensive exposition of the issues and (almost all) of the potential consumer choices.

As regards new replacement devices, I think you left out replacement devices such as Android tablets and Raspberry Pi’s. I think those could have respective niche applications, for some people.

I wouldn’t recommend you upgrade if you care about unsaved data

I have Windows 10 and it’s a nightmare. My computer always restarts itself when I’m not looking, and I loose all unsaved data and browser tabs

Windows controls your computer Comp not you it always has it knows everything about your computer even knowing if you can take a big download safely but most people accept this control because of convenience .

Well Windows 10 has been nothing but inconvenience

7 never restarted for updates unless I let it

10 doesn’t bother to ask. It just does it whenever it wants. I even turn off all software updates and it STILL restarts and looses everything

Comp, I think you may want to visit Settings… Windows Update… Change active hours and then set the start and end times for your working day. If you do that, W10 won’t carry out automatic restarts between those times.

As evidence, the machine I have with me is wanting to restart but is blocked by my settings.

If you really want to stop updates in Windows 10 Home Comp try this , its relatively simple but as I don’t use MS Windoze I cant vouch for it –
https://www.drivereasy.com/knowledge/how-to-stop-windows-10-update/
As MS usually try to combat you making changes it might not work but at least its a chance .
Of course–no updates.
And the big “downer ” very slyly Windows is now a –SERVICE so no new versions installed or system updates , the Board at Redmond worked out that by making it that it would CHARGE you in the future for system updates and all apps , here is Windows own “Windows Club ” –
https://www.thewindowsclub.com/turn-off-windows-update-in-windows-10

My working day is 24 hours long with random breaks – and it can’t (or more accurately won’t) cope with that.

Hi, Comp. Like vaccinations, the windows updates aren’t just there for your benefit. They are often fixing security vulnerabilities that can turn your box into part of a botnet that wreak havoc on the rest of us.

If your Windows 10 box is restarting at random times, go to settings – update & security – windows update – advanced and deselect the option, “restart this device as soon as possible when a restart….” Then it will only install the update when you shut down or restart.

As I say elsewhere, Windows updates, like vaccinations, aren’t just for your benefit.

Why do you say what you do about vaccinations?

I guess vaccinations help prevent the spread of diseases. Hence a reasonable analogy for network worms like wannacry.

Windows 7 proved to be a “peak ” as far as I am concerned in terms of MS Redmond,s systems , I originally had Windows 7 Prof. and it worked as long as you accepted some snooping.
Now with Windows 10 there is complete control over your actions when using it plus massive data collection, update still cause crashes and blue screens and you need large amounts of storage for big updates and fast download speeds otherwise even MS say download during the night as it will take hours .
Windows is not now the global majority system giant it once was mobile has taken over and the Convo comment above is right starting off you could do a lot worse than install Linux Mint .
MS now has shares in Linux as their closed system has a limited future due to mobiles taking over .

DerekP says:
19 November 2019

Duncan, as a regular Windows 10 user, I have to say that my experience of Windows 10 does not bear out your assertions that “update still cause crashes and blue screens and you need large amounts of storage for big updates and fast download speeds otherwise even MS say download during the night as it will take hours”. For that matter, I also don’t share comp’s experience that “My computer always restarts itself when I’m not looking, and I loose all unsaved data and browser tabs”. Even on Windows 10 Home, I seem to be able to control when restarts occur and, whilst much slower than Linux, downloading Windows doesn’t seem to unduly tax my ~10 Mbps home broadband.

Ah but it does Derek hence the large numbers of very upset computer users complaining on most Windows tech websites and even more cursing Windows on LInux websites .
Windows answer —–reinstall yes very good answer –not !
As you wont believe me here is MS ,s OWN comments on it-
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/client-management/troubleshoot-stop-errors
and another website-
https://recoverit.wondershare.com/computer-problems/fix-windows-10-update-when-it-freezes-or-crashes.html
I have webpage after webpage of complaints from Australia to Canada.

Duncan I did not say that Windows 10 never fails but simply that your inference that such failures are the norm seems to be untrue.

The users who would wish to post comments on tech sites are obviously more likely to refer to problems. I would guess that most ordinary Windows 10 users [like me] are quite satisfied with its performance and have little to complain about. The purists and those looking for superlative functionality and speed of response are not entirely representative in my opinion. Some users are more than happy to jog along in the ‘slow’ lane. Having spent over thirty years hammering stuff out on a typewriter and then a word processor, any computer is a welcome miracle. Believe it or not, I sometimes miss Vista – again reviled by the cognoscenti.

I am looking to replace the laptop which runs on Windows 7 and will probably use Windows 10 for full compatibility with the desktop PC. I can’t see any operating disadvantages at present with Windows 10.

Fair enough John but if I remember right there was a convo on Windows 10 and it got plenty of posts?
Windows 7 will still update with critical downloads for 5 years its the security updates that are stopping and think on this every few weeks I get notified of a large number of security downloads in Windows 10 to plug holes that are caused by their snooping and backdoors .
Windows 7 can carry on if you download a good computer and broadband malware protection programme .
Linux doesn’t have those large security updates usually general app updates and I can watch every single one of the downloads and stop any I don’t want , its easy to do -I need first to allow a download -second I need to approve by entering a code that the download can start -third I can cancel it at any time .
One area on Linux is vital the Kernel but that too gets the next mark number downloaded every month or so and you can read all about it on the forum website and talk to the software engineers –try doing that with Windows 10 in the closed system .

Duncan – You might be recalling this one from June 2018 –
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/microsoft-windows-10-updates-issues/

It attracted 33 comments, reasonably balanced for and against. You submitted 11.and Derek 6.

I started using Windows 10 when I bought a new PC a couple of years ago. While I wish they wouldn’t change the way things work – I’d become used to Vista – I soon got to grips with it and have had no problems. Simply a means to an end in my case.

And according to Windows Report MS apologises for a “typo ” error –
quote-
The Build Developer Conference was a pretty busy event for Microsoft. Thousands of developers attended the event to hear the latest news from Microsoft.

Recently, Twitter user Ginny Caughey shared a slide from a session held to discuss the increasing popularity of Windows 10 among enterprise users.

The slide named “Most PCs are or soon will be on Windows 10” showed impressive numbers for Windows 10. It clearly stated that more than 900M devices are currently running Windows 10 and Microsoft hopes the number will increase very soon.

However, this number seems to be far from reality and different from the figures claimed by Microsoft in March 2019. The tech giant claimed that there are around 800 million active Windows 10 devices around the world. Apparently, Microsoft took this figure from Forrester Research.

Microsoft finally admits it’s a typo

As a matter of fact,one Windows AppConsult Engineer from Microsoft apologized and confirmed the information was indeed a typo. He says that the company has now fixed the wrong figure.

Thanks for the heads up! Yes it was indeed a typo, sorry for that. It has been fixed in the slides for the participants ?

I stopped using Windows 7 at home some while ago. For me, XP has been the best ever version of Windows, so I still use that to support legacy printers and other hardware.

One of my brothers still uses XP online, as his only home PC. Then again, he is an IT director, so he probably knows how to stay safe online even on an unsupported OS.

Linux Mint was mentioned in the intro –okay Comp install Linux Mint then install Windows 7 on VM using VMplayer .
Just found Windows Report website Derek –about 40 % of Windows users worldwide are still using Windows 7 –classed as the “most reliable system ” so that figure could be making Windows 10 “look good ” for reliability .

For those brave souls who are standing by Windows 7 here is a list of good antivirus programmes , my choice is Kaspersky
https://uk.pcmag.com/antivirus/8141/the-best-antivirus-protection
But think on this what way do you surf the web ?– by using a browser therefore make sure your browser has plenty of good security apps on it , and by “good ” I mean good many say a lot but in action are not worth the coding that is used to enable them and have vulnerabilities hence the easy ability for them to be hacked , get the email client I have Thunderbird , having used it for many years I can vouch for it then you have no need to access the web to reach your email service and its got a good filter that you can block emails with and warns you if you click on a link if the URL wording and the destination aren’t the same .
I still have my bought Windows Professional ISO disc from many years ago and yes its the official version bought in a shop no “knock-off ” .

I have used Kaspersky for many years, probably nearly as long as it has been around.

Planet Earth is having a climate emergency – so we keep hearing – that is until it interferes with tech mega-corporations and their mega-profits. Then they justify wasting the earth’s resources by claiming they are carbon neutral. Yeah right!!!

They conveniently forget to mention the environmental cost of mining of rare earth elements required to power our tech. The pollution from mining, the pollution from transportation, the pollution from processing, more pollution from transportation, pollution from the manufacturing of our tech, more pollution from transportation . . . . . . . How much will be left for future generations at the current rate of use?

A gigantic lake full of radioactive, sulfur-smelling, toxic sludge, Baotou , the ‘Hell on Earth of Inner Mongolia.

They conveniently forget to mention the mountains of dumped tech much of it in poorer parts of the world. It may be illegal to export e-waste from Europe, but exporting for re-use is not and it is likely nobody will check it still works. Children risk their lives burning plastic off cables to sell the copper for a pittance to fund their education in Ghana. Our dumped electronics can contain toxic materials such as lead, zinc, nickel, barium and chromium that is seriously damaging to health of both humans and animals, polluting the atmosphere, poisoning the ground, the rivers, the oceans, and why? So we can have a nice new one or so the likes of Microsoft can make another £billion profit?

The inconvenient truth of our dumped tech.

Microsoft’s website is full of self-praise for sustainability. It says Our environmental policies and practices aim to protect, conserve, and sustain natural resources along with our customers and the communities where we live and operate. MS claims their operations are carbon neutral but how can this be true when they are forcing the premature death of up to hundreds of millions of computers? Making Windows 7 software obsolete has enormous consequences on the hardware it is run on and MS needs to take responsibility for that and the way it is disposed of.

11,000 scientists from around the world have come together to say it is time we acted like it’s a climate emergency. They are right, and the tech mega corporations need to start doing their part.

With the current state of the world, we need to make our tech last as long as possible. It is scandalous to force a premature end to perfectly good tech that requires precious earth resources to replace. The only reason a computer will become vulnerable to threats from the internet is because Microsoft refuse to update it.

There was a time when a new operating system meant something exciting, something better, but now it is just different and a forced change that many Windows 7 users just do not want. My Windows 7 PC works better at 10 years old than Windows 95 did when it was brand new and it makes me angry that it is being forced into retirement. I am not afraid of change, I can afford a brand new computer, I just don’t want one especially when I am trying to do what I can for the good of the planet. But there will be many users who cannot afford to upgrade if their old hardware is not up to it.

According to this report, about 27% of all PCs around the globe still run on Windows 7. The majority of the 1.37 million NHS PCs use Windows 7. Windows 7 works. Software we love works, everything we want to do works, our computers do everything we want them to do, so why are we being forced to replace it? What a waste of money and resources.

In April of this year, the New York Times reported Microsoft profits rose 19% to $8.8billion for the quarter. This was despite supporting Windows 7, so there is no financial reason to drop a much-loved operating system.

What makes this worse is Bill Gates funding geoengineering research – the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment (SCoPEx) that has the intention of releasing particles about 50m above the earth’s surface to reflect sunlight and reduce surface temperatures. You don’t need to be an expert to fear the potentially dangerous consequences of messing about with our natural climate control and the protection it gives us.

We should be finding solutions to fix the problems not finding ways around them to continue our destructive existence.

Microsoft will extend support for some businesses at a cost until 2023. If they care about the planet, why won’t they do it for free for everyone?

Why can’t Microsoft accept they have 2 lots of users and support both groups?

.

alfa, I think Microsoft would say that because Windows 7 PC’s can be “upgraded” (n.b. their words) to Windows 10, there is no need for them to support two different OS families when it is more efficient to support a single one.(As tested only a few weeks ago here, upgrades from W7 and W8 to W10 are free and easy to carry out. I even managed to upgrade my 9 years old MSI U180 Intel Atom netbook to run W10.)

Those business who beg to differ can choose to pay for extended Windows 7 support. Elsewhere in the work place the retirement of Windows 7 will make Windows 10 commonplace. I think it then follows that most folk who use Windows 10 at work (or at school) would prefer to use the same OS at home.

To put this in proper perspective, for many users the OS is only the vehicle from which they launch their favourite apps. If you do what I do – and pin those apps to the taskbar, then Windows 10 and Windows 7 are very similar to use.

Excellent Alfa especially at this time of the year when we are supposed to have a more “spiritual view” of of those around us but really its all about big business profit that’s the only real god nowadays and don’t dare criticise it or you will get the “Mark of Wallstreet ” on your brow.
Lets not forget the African countries where US “big oil ” plundered several countries leaving the same devastation as your picture shows and zero compensation or clean-up by them . Fishing waters ruined ,farmland full of heavy metal Africans dying of cancer its just goes on .
I hope your post breaths a bit of “spirituality ” into some not “commerciality ” .

Duncan, for those who want to operate PC’s without being beholden to proprietary software and the whims of its owners, there is always GNU/Linux.

Why do you think Alfa subtly pictured Linux penguins Derek ?
she was making a good point ,of course those “part of the system ” wont like the apple-cart upset but I was never set upon this earth to be beholden to any US giant conglomerate .
Redmond isn’t daft – about 15 % shares in the Linux Foundation –buying up GitHub – buying into Red Hat then “kidding us on ” –oh no we wont change anything – aye sure you wont !
Its set the teeth on edge of every free thinking tech on the planet.

Change the shell of Windows 10 to “look like ” Windows 7 –are you kidding Derek ? is that supposed to make us feel better ?–underneath its Windows 10 as a SERVICE all the way with much more control and snooping .
I posted how you could hit MS hard by removing programming to stop blue screening and lessen control but Win 10 Service takes the huff and wont let you upgrade which is a –yes Service issue.

Derek said ‘I even managed to upgrade my 9 years old …’

My computer was 9 years old last week on the 15th November.

Of course Microsoft will say it is capable of being upgraded, I am sure it is, but that is not the point.

When I bought my computer, SSDs were new and very expensive and we were led to believe Windows 7 only needed a 40GB SSD, so that is what I got. Six months later, I could no longer do updates until I installed a much larger SSD.

Tech companies drip-feed us little upgrades, you update to the latest and very soon a newer version is released. That newer version will likely be incompatible with something, all designed to keep you buying more and more before much of it is worn out. And that is now unsustainable, we cannot keep replacing stuff just because the tech giants need us to line their pockets.

Companies would not be highly profitable if they made products that lasted for many years without getting customers to spend money on them. Look at the cost of having a car serviced by a main dealer.

My first computer – a Macintosh Classic II – came with a 40 MB hard drive, but that was back in 1992.

Hi alfa, the oldest machine I have W10 running on is a 2006 Acer laptop.

That machine was (and is) slow when running Vista and it seems to be equally slow running W10. Nonetheless, it still works. (It only really ever seemed slick and fast when running XP, but that’s another story.)

Although the official minimum disc size needed for W10 is 32GB, I think most users should aim to have at least 64GB. Of course, opting for 128GB or more will be better. Similarly, although W10 will work with as little as 1GB of RAM, users should really aim to have at least 4GB. Also really, anyone buying a brand new laptop really now ought to make sure they get (at least) a full HD screen.

I’ve never run Windows 7 from an SSD. But, because SSD’s are now widely available and relatively inexpensive, I’d say it was desirable, though not essential, to run Windows 10 from an SSD. Even then it will still be slower than Linux, but still a good all round choice.

Last week, I helped to upgrade a student’s Lenovo laptop to Windows 10 from Ubuntu Linux, because (a) there were problems with Linux crashing on that machine and (b) Linux did not give the user access to all their favourite apps.

wavechange, Apple certainly show that, when they withdraw OS support after only about 6 or 7 years and make laptops that are almost impossible to repair if they go wrong.

Duncan, I wasn’t suggesting any need to customise the W10 desktop other than to make good use of the common features it has inherited from Windows 7.

Also, as regards “blue screen” faults, did you actually bother to read that webpage you linked to? I think it shows that 70% of blue screen events were caused by bugs in 3rd party drivers, 10% by faulty hardware and only 5% by bugs in Microsoft code. The causes of the remaining 15% could not be determined.

I’m no enthusiast of Apple as a company, Derek, but have had very good service from their computers, both at work and at home. I would not want to use a computer more than 6 or 7 years routinely because newer machines perform better, but I do use old Macs offline, mainly to run obsolete software, do PowerPoint presentations and display photos.

I’m well aware that Apple laptops are almost impossible to repair, but thankfully I’ve been very lucky. I wonder if other makes are easier to fix.

Sorry Derek, but you are not helping. Just because something is possible, doesn’t make it right.

Microsoft could accept it has 2 types of users – those who are happy with dumb terminals and those who want control over their PCs. Many Windows 7 users do not want or like Windows 10.

Also many Windows 7 PCs will be in poorer parts of the world and may already have been upgraded so further upgrades could be impossible.

DerekP says:
20 November 2019

Sorry alfa, but I’m not the one who needs to come to terms with the end of support Windows 7 here.

Yes, Kate, but I have seen tales of woe where peripherals give unexpected (and mostly undesirable) “gotchas”. Webcams of weird aspect ration and unadjustable video parameters, mouse pads that have either hypersensitivity or insensitivity that is unadjustable to name but two. Need to approach with some care.

Once you switch out of Windows S mode you cant get back in ,here is Windows themselves-
Windows 10 in S mode is designed for security and performance, exclusively running apps from the Microsoft Store. If you want to install an app that isn’t available in the Microsoft Store, you’ll need to switch out of S mode. Switching out of S mode is one-way. If you make the switch, you won’t be able to go back to Windows 10 in S mode. There’s no charge to switch out of S mode.

S mode sounds interesting, but might just be a poor alternative to a nice Chromebook 😉

As a further comment on Windows 10S, I noticed today that a high proportion of the laptops on sale in Currys now come in S mode.

For my old hardware that I cannot afford to disconnect from the LAN/www, I propose minimal change to maintain security but minimal disruption to software, feel and hardware. I think that will mean getting OEM W8.1 Professional media and license – currently available on Ebay for less than a tenner per PC. I have yet to discover any software that runs on W7 but will not run on W8.1 – although there is plenty out there that runs quite happily on W7 that is a real struggle to fire up on W10

I’d be interested to hear more about software that runs on W7 and W8 but not on W10.

Other than the case of specific printer drivers for old printers (e.g. Canon MP 750 and HP Laserjet 1018), I’ve not seen any examples from my favourite apps here. Even for those cases however, the option of running W7 or XP (yeah!) in a virtual machine might provide an acceptable workaround.

I’m really impressed by Roger’s fortitude in considering moving to W8.1 instead of W10.

Even as a competent user of XP/W7/W10, I find W8 & W8.1 really hard to use, so I’ve never wanted to buy any such machines to add to my reference collection.

it did tend to use much more CPU time here is Windows themselves-

Starting with Windows 8, a change was made to the way that Task Manager and Performance Monitor report CPU utilization. With this change, CPU utilization may appear to exceed 100% when the system is under a heavy load, especially when capacity is boosted by Intel Turbo Boost.

Cause
This change affects the way that CPU utilization is computed. The values in Task Manager now correspond to the Processor Information% Processor Utility and Processor Information% Privileged Utility performance counters, not to the Processor Information% Processor Time and Processor Information% Privileged Time counters as in Windows 7.

Tip change Superfetch to manual then check out -Service Host -Local System
if you are VERY brave –end process or “power options ” -set to Standard
With TWO browsers open I am using 2 % / 3 % processor ( CPU ) use and that’s my old machine . One reason for the low percentage processor use is that I have an upmarket gaming card installed which takes care of action on the screen by using its own video processing .

I too think Roger is “Brave “.

Apologies for delay in continuity, Kate. The main reason is to backward compatibility – to preserve the ability to run legacy software that W10 cut off, closely followed by relatively easy access to external port pins for Beeb/Pi-esque experiments on serial/parallel port-rich laptops (ok, not quite as simple as Peek and Poke, but…). If I can buy four more years of secure performance without having to step through to W10 for a few tens of pounds, that for me is good value!

This is closely followed by the fact that I want to choose when to have extensive down time to let Microsoft perform open heart surgery on the operating system. Ok, it happens less often since leaving full-time employment, but there were periods when I would – with only coffee and meal breaks – work through for 36 or more hours on deadlines. If any of those coincided with an impromptu and impossible-to-stave-off operating system upgrade I’d have potentially lost unaffordable “mill” hours (a relatively new laptop running 10 started such an upgrade and was still doing it 6 hours later a few months ago).

I agree there is a risk in buying licenses from eBay. Does anyone know of a more reliable source? About 25 years ago I approved purchase of something like 100 Dos 6 licenses for product we installed that contained embedded PCs running an EXE program from ROM that controlled critical hardware. The last thing we wanted was an operating system that supported background tasks!

I haven;’t looked lately, but when I toyed with getting a W10 license from M$ back in ~2011, I think it allowed a free option to upgrade to 8.1 – but it was a one way street. If I did so I couldn’t then revert to 10. I guess I could go that route for a few years?

I thought – perhaps wrongly – that you could make W8.1 look and feel like W7 making it ostensibly identical to use as W7 once you’d done the TweakUI?

Roger I checked out some Win 8.1 ISO downloads some are “dicey ” don’t go direct , go via tracking & advertising servers use this one it has a genuine Comodo safety certificate-
https://softlay.net/operating-system/windows-8-1-pro-iso-download.html
You could teak the UI but that wont change the underlying reason many weren’t happy with this system BUT as I said above you can minimise the problems by making programming changes (there are more ) .

Roger, there are software apps like ClassicShell (see:-http://www.classicshell.net/ – N.B. Caution http: site !) and its successor OpenShell (see:-https://open-shell.github.io/Open-Shell-Menu/ ) that bring back more classic look and feel for modern versions of Windows, especially Windows 8.

Now that there is an open source version, there should also be confidence that these apps won’t wilfully or otherwise add unrevealed security vulnerabilities to a Windows system.

Thanks for that Duncan – most helpful. I’ll grab the media for installation.

Still to work out how best to legitimise it. I wonder if I can upgrade from W7 still for a pittance.. 😉

I tried ClassicShell, Derek, and a couple of others, but none are any good at working from the existing vhd files I have (which were in turn “ghosted” from working old Windows computers and therefore have working and correctly licensed/installed software). I think it has to be the VM engine – which 10 has cut off.

Roger – thanks for the feedback.

I’ve never tried the likes of ClassicShell myself, because I just see learning to drive (yet another) OS as part of life long learning.

I guess if you are using Microsoft Virtual PC (as in:-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Virtual_PC ) then that doesn’t work under W10. Hence, if you adopt W10, you might need an alternative (e.g see:-https://alternativeto.net/software/virtual-pc/ ).

I’ve been using VirtualBox for years, either on Windows or Linux hosts. That may support the use of vhd files, see 5.2 in here:-https://www.virtualbox.org/manual/ch05.html . Even in its free version, it certainly runs XP, Linux and BSD vm’s quite well.

Each time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows there are complaints from those who preferred the previous version. Even when Windows arrived, many carried on using DOS because that is what they were familiar with. I have little doubt that in future, there will be people defending Windows 10. I’m convinced that it would be better if Microsoft charged more for the original licence and offered free upgrades. It works well with mobiles.

That path has been rejected by Redmond Wavechange (last sentence ) due to competition from Mobile Broadband Windows Enterprise (business Windows ) already get charged .
You can quote figures for the large number of Windows users on the planet it still doesn’t get away from the fact that Mobile outnumber them and that’s why MS Redmond has “bought into ” Linux—future profit.

I did not know (or maybe did not want to know) of Microsoft’s involvement with Linux. Is nothing sacred?

Microsoft are way behind the curve there. It has been quite a few years since Apple and Sony decided to base their proprietary OSes (e.g. MacOS, iOS and whatever it is that PlayStations run) on BSD Unix (i.e. functionally very like Linux but with even more liberal free licencing conditions).

For the ultimate in long term product support, there is much to be said for the business model in which customers pay annually. That works for me with car servicing and it also works for a lot of software, including many engineering apps and the non-free supported versions of Linux.

Sorry, but I found this article lazy and irresponsible.

“If you’re determined to keep using Windows 7, you’ll first need to make sure it doesn’t go online again”.

Nonsense, and the kind of scaremongering that you’d expect to read in a tabloid newspaper.

“For anyone tempted to think that they’re not at risk, it’s worth noting that according to the security firm Symantec, one in 10 URLs are malicious, 4,800 websites on average are compromised by having hackers add formjacking code to them each month, while one in 3,207 emails is a phishing attempt”.

This is just as true for Windows 10 users as it is Windows 7.

The key to being safe online is:

Install robust anti-virus and anti-malware software and keep it up-to-date. Downloading and installing this software is easier, if anything, than upgrading your PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and in most cases completely free.

Taking sensible precautions – don’t click on email links that you’re not sure about, and, wherever possible, use websites that are verified as trustworthy.

Providing you do this, there’s absolutely no reason to throw away your current device or hand over hundreds of pounds to Microsoft for the “privilege” of continuing to use it.

When the time comes to buy a new device, it’ll no doubt have Windows 10 installed, but the basic principles of using your device safely will continue to apply.

AV and other software will eventually stop supporting Windows 7. But, if Windows XP is anything to go by, it’ll be a couple of years before that happens.

Yes zero -day vulnerabilities can affect systems that are no longer updated as they apply to the actual programming of installed software and basic programming but Tannya has a point if you install a GOOD protection system then those vulnerabilities will , for the most part, be protected .
Critical updates will still be applied for some years yet.

Tannya has some good points here and, as I’ve already said, one my of brothers (the IT Director one) still uses XP (with current virus protection) on his home PC.

As for my own XP machines, I’ve got AVG AntiVirus Free 18.8 installed on them, even though they’re not usually allowed on-line. But that a/v app still works and still receives virus definition updates.

But here’s the thing. Using XP now, or Windows 7 after its end-of-support, is a bit driving a classic car that no longer has a requirement for a current MoT. In all likelihood, that car just won’t be as safe and capable on the road as a new car that is still under warranty and maintained in accordance with its service plan.

Given that Which? is campaigning to help protect consumers from online scams – and to ensure that they get compensation if they’re scammed and its not their fault – I don’t think Which? can recommend the option of carrying on with Windows 7 on-line.

To use another example, it would a bit like Which? advising consumers that it is OK to carry on using unmodified Whirlpool tumble dryers, even though we all know that they are subject to a safety recall and are supposed to be either replaced or upgraded.

Just picking out one bank at random, see:-https://www.barclays.co.uk/ways-to-bank/online-banking/online-mobile-banking-guarantee/, we can can see that bank customers are expected to “Carry out regular internet security checks and software updates”. Anyone still using XP or Vista cannot currently do that as completely as those using supported OSes and I worry that such failures might leave banks with “wiggle room” when deciding whether or not they should refund scam victims.

Finally, we’ve already noted that “upgrades” from W7 to W10 are still free, so there is no need to “hand over hundreds of pounds to Microsoft for the “privilege” of continuing to use a W7 PC”.

You’re very, very wrong. In May 2017 hospital wards closed and operations missed because obsolete machines were connected to the Internet.

It was not because “obsolete machines were connected to the Internet.”; it was because NHS IT staff had not been obtaining the latest updates to protect the OSes concerned.

So perhaps my step via 8.1 for a few years is not only… what was the word…fortitudinous, but also unnecessary provided I hit the machine with Kaspersky or similar?

Thats correct Roger but it MUST be their TOTAL version which covers both computer & internet.

A good a/v & security suite will obviously help to prevent infections but operates at a different layer from a properly patched OS. So those two items should be regarded as separate and largely independent lines of defence.

Thanks Derek and Duncan.
I will explore the options.

Chris Boden says:
22 November 2019

I can confirm that the free update is still available, did it a couple of weeks ago with no hassle at all. I think it’s outrageous that Microsoft can openly say you have to pay £119 to buy windows 10, when you an just go to a different Microsoft page and in a few clicks be downloading it for free! Kind of a rort on the unsuspecting and overly trusting.
https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/

Sean McNally says:
22 November 2019

I’m alarmed at your incorrect advice to upgrade to windows 10, as any good paid for antivirus software will continue to support and protect windows 7 or even windows xp for some time to come. One very good reason for not updating to windows 10 is it’s lack of support for older printers and scanners and other hardware, what you may call out of date equipment that still works perfectly well and would incur further cost to buy compatible hardware or software to work on windows 10.
I have computers running windows 10 and windows 7 and I will keep windows 7 for as long as I can.
Spending Money for teck you don’t need or want is the biggest waste of Money except for all the scams out there.
Please Which stop trying to sell us stuff we don’t need and go back to saving members hard earned cash.

Sean, if the experience of XP is anything to go by (see:-https://www.pcworld.com/article/3395477/microsoft-issues-a-rare-windows-xp-patch-to-combat-a-virulent-wannacry-like-exploit.html ) then, at their discretion Microsoft may even release security patches for out-of-ticket consumer versions of W7, after the end of its official support life. As with XP, there may also be “tricks-of-the-trade” that allow unsupported home W7 PC’s to receive patches released for still-supported versions of the OS.

All that having been said, I still don’t think Which? can unequivocally endorse the ongoing use of W7, for the reasons I outlined above.

That said, I do agree with your point about printers and other devices. In my case, I still have real and virtual machines running XP, so I can keep my legacy devices going. As an XP fan, I’ve never been fond enough of W7 or W8 to mourn their passing, while as a part-time wage slave, I’m stuck with using W10 when that’s what my employers provide for my use.

Richard Turner says:
22 November 2019

The biggest problem (and turn off) previous Win 7 users new to Windows 10 have is the completely different desktop appearance and app based layout that they encounter.
The good news is you don’t have to have that desktop appearance. There is a great little program which closely emulates your old Windows 7 desktop appearance without having to endure (to some) the Windows 10 desktop. It’s called “Classic Shell” http://www.classicshell.net/downloads/ and has several changeable desktopsappearances you can adopt to suit you best. Try it, it’s great! . No connection to them.

You may be thinking of how Windows 10 looked when it first launched. The ‘Start’ button now gives a list of ‘all programs’ just like it always did. If you don’t want to use Live Tiles you don’t need to. You don’t need any plugins.

When I can be bothered, I do enjoying removing all the superfluous bloatware tiles and just leaving my favourite apps pinned there.

But, in practice, I can get to my favourite apps even more easily by just pinning them to the task bar in either W7 or W10, just like I can do with a proper OS.

Jamie says:
22 November 2019

In the past six months I have upgraded more that 10 PCs/Laptops from Windows 7 to Windows 10. As far as I am aware all are still working perfectly. Most have been straight upgrades but a few needed clean installations. As long as you have a genuine Windows 7 licence and the correct system requirements it was pretty easy. I would always make a back up of personal data. Depending on which upgrade method you will have to re-install third party apps. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

Jamie says:
23 November 2019

Forgot to say. This is a free way of upgrading.

Jamie thanks for confirming that. This corroborates the information given in the Which? article above and also my own observations.

David says:
23 November 2019

What is the best recommended antivirus and malware software if I want to continue using W7? I have Avast business which I presently pay for but am not sure if this comprises complete protection. I too would prefer to keep W7 mainly because of familiarity, use of an old Samsung CLX – 3180 laser printer (which should be WIFI but stopped some time ago after a W upgrade) and W Media Centre including TV tuner.

David Avast business is pretty good and your right paying for protection gives you more security facilities which you would need on an unsupported system .
My choice is Kaspersky if you can force yourself to block out the US conspiracy theorists who shout –“its Russian Putin,s running it ” as if Google didn’t exist the world,s biggest collector of data .
If you can get the business version do so –erm —- it isn’t cheap –
https://www.kaspersky.co.uk/small-business-security
there is a standard non business version though –
https://www.kaspersky.co.uk/downloads
You must get the Total version as you want all over cover.

I am so confused with what to do with my Windows 7 desktop. I can’t afford a new PC and I am rather a technophobe so all of the listed options seem very daunting to me. I don’t even know where to start!| I will probably end up limping along in Windows 7 after January. Does anyone else feel this way?

Just buy a good malware and internet protection programme Tamsyn that will make a world of a difference to your piece of mind as the internet properties will stop you reaching/clicking on malware invested websites of all sorts .

Hi Tamsyn

If you want to do get a proper job done by upgrading to Windows 10, and if you cannot scrounge help with that from anyone you know, then you may need to pay a good local independent computer shop to do it.

Some of these businesses are even registered as Which? Trusted Traders, including this Gloucester one:-http://www.cotswoldcomputermedic.co.uk/contact-us/

Obviously the likes of Currys-PC World of rip-offs won’t want to help with this – they’d want to sell you a new PC (plus accessories and add-ons) instead.

Steve Beaumont says:
23 November 2019

Although I use Windows 10 and am pretty Tech Savvy I’m also responsible for my Mother in Law’s old laptop. It is a 6 hour return trip so we only see her a couple of times a year. I usually back-up everything and install updates for Windows 7 and other programmes.
I plan to leave her on Windows 7 for the following reasons.
1. Her machine is not suitable for upgrading.
2. It’s been difficult enough to teach her to do even the simple things such as print or download her photos from her phone. The thought of teaching her about Windows 10 is too daunting. Even if I automated everything I could, it would still “freeze” during the numerous updates etc., which are all too baffling for her. I’ve only just managed to stop her tuning her router off every night.
3. She doesn’t do anything other than e-mail or “Google” searches.
4. She doesn’t do on-line banking or any other procedure and there is no sensitive information on the device. She does have McAfee which provides some protection but I’m afraid that as she’s entered her 80’s the learning curve is too steep.
5. I did toy with the idea of a tablet just for e-mail but she insists on a proper keyboard and large screen. I know this could be possible to setup but there are also costs to consider. Historically she’s always had my hand-me-downs.

Steve, that sounds like a reasonable choice for your Mother in Law’s circumstances.

In general, for folk who don’t do anything other than e-mail or “Google” searches, Chromebooks can be a much easier option, especially if they’re also using Android phones.

My two experiences of setting up printing from Chromebooks required registering those printers with Google Cloud Print but once that was done, printing was simple enough.

As noted in the above which article, old PC’s can be re-purposed into devices very similar to Chromebooks using software freely downloadable from CloudReady. That niche option may appeal to some – I have tried it – but I prefer the option of using a proper Chromebook.

Kate, if you enjoy those kind of projects, you may also find Endless OS to be of interest.

In common with the CloudReady release of ChromeOS, Endless OS is a free but proprietary OS based on Linux.

From what I’ve seen and tried, Endless OS is designed to provide similar ease of use to a smartphone. It does also come with a fully functional Linux base “under the hood” but the hope that most users won’t ever need to lift the lid on that. It also has the promise that security updates will be rolled out automatically, much as they are for Chromebooks.

I’d say the main downsides of Endless OS are (1) that it is designed for more or less the same niche audience as Chromebook and that (2), on account of its use of a desktop based on Gnome 3, it works best on hardware with reasonably fast graphics.

I tried to entice my elderly cousin onto a Chromebook, but the “experts” at her Age UK computer class talked her out of it.

Although it brings its own problems, would TeamViewer be worth installing on Steve’s M-I-L’s computer? I think it offers two-stage log-in now. This would allow a lot of remote updating with patches – and the chosen AV package.

Roger, that sounds worth considering. At work, I’m more than happy to give our in-house IT technicians full remote access to my PC, so they can help resolve IT issues.

As we are now well and truly in the “winter holiday season tech sales bonanza”, the end of Windows 7 support may persuade some folk to dash out and a buy a new Windows 10 PC.

I’m sure Which? has its own much more detailed buyers’ guides, but here are my main thoughts on what to look for when buying a new Windows 10 PC.

1. Do NOT buy any of the cheap laptops that only come with 32GB of hard disc storage. These do not have enough storage space for multiple user accounts or for easily handling Windows software updates. I think the absolute minimum worth considering is 64GB and more is always better.

2. Do NOT buy a new Windows 10 laptop with only 2GB of RAM. On modern cheap laptops, the RAM cannot be upgraded and Windows 10 runs much better with 4GB (or more).

3. Please do try to get (at least) a “Full HD” screen resolution (1920×1080) if you are buying a new laptop. Some cheaper models still come with old fashioned lower resolution screens, e.g. 1366×768. As regards picture quality, I do certainly appreciate the difference.

Great advice!

If anyone wants the buyers guide – https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/laptops/article/how-to-buy-the-best-laptop

Kevin says:
4 December 2019

For any businesses with Windows 7, announcement from Microsoft:
“Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise will be able to purchase ESU through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year.”

Pity they couldn’t release the patches say a month later for the poor old plebs who have paid their own money for the MS software.

Also if you have an SSD, and are not running regular backups, HP have just announced an SSD firmware issue resulting on total unrecoverable failure of some of their SSDs:
“SSD failure at 32,768 hours of operation (i.e., 3 years, 270 days 8 hours). After the SSD failure occurs, neither the SSD nor the data can be recovered.”
I thought we’d left behind this kind of total loss typical of the mechanical disk “click of death” failure mode, but this looks worse in that the disk simply expires once it hits the time limit.

There are plenty of articles about the seemingly programmed SSD failure, but a quick check of the HP Enterprise website revealed nothing. Ironically, I did find an article entitled: “Doing the right thing: The rise of ethics in tech”

When it comes to SSD,s the ones to buy are Samsung ,highly rated , my older PC has one of the early SSD,s (not Samsung ) 120GB is fitted as main drive but I bought a Samsung 480GB and when I had a programming problem I swapped the drives and reinstalled the system .
Even after all of those years not even the cheaper older drive has failed .

My new PC has two of the latest M2 Samsung flat (pencil ) PCB drives which are installed directly onto the Motherboard just like an IC the system one is 480GB and the storage one is 1000GB .
In the world of drives HP is well down the pecking order.
Best SSD at Tech Radar (public type tech info ) is a Samsung and –PC Gamer recommended —Samsung.
As advised I am staying away from too much tech detail.—but if asked ?

DerekP says:
4 December 2019

I think the HPE bulletin is here:-https://support.hpe.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docId=emr_na-a00092491en_us

This issue only seems to affect enterprise products as opposed to consumer ones.

Thanks Derek. I hope that users get to know before it’s too late.

Kevin says:
5 December 2019

Hi Derek, yes that’s the support ref, I didn’t put the URL in since I didn’t want to wait for the comment to appear…

HP do (or used to…) very rigorous quality assurance / quality control on their enterprise disks, better than, for instance, Dell; this got past their QA. I was quite surprised by this fail mode, having previously assumed SSD’s would be much better than traditional disks since there’s nothing mechanical to go wrong. I know SSDs ‘wear out’ in terms of write cycles, but this isn’t something I’d expect. Just something to keep in mind.

BTW I think some SSD’s do get quite rapid bit-rot if left unpowered, so they’re not a long term offline storage prospect, unlike sticking a mechanical disk in a draw and getting data out of it years later.

I don’t think HP make their own disks, they buy in third party drives AFAIK, and rate them in terms of higher or lower reliability, results determining whether they go to the enterprise range or lower demand [cheaper] kit. It’s worth checking the firmware on any disk since many updates relate to reliability, both mechanical and SSDs. Seagate, Crucial etc usually provide a free utility which makes this much easier to manage, and provides lots of other info about your disk status.