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Farewell Windows 7

Microsoft has always described Windows 10 “as a service” and leaks have already revealed new monthly charges are coming. Of course, for Windows 7 owners this was never something they expected to pay. But times change…

In a new blog post entitled, “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”, Microsoft has announced that it will indeed start charging Windows 7 customers a monthly fee from January 14th 2020, if they want to keep their computers safe (and providing they qualify).

Users running Windows 7 now have little choice but to upgrade to Windows 10 if they want free support from Microsoft or else if you are a certain type of business (see below), pay a charge.

If this date rings a bell, that’s because it is the day Microsoft will end ‘Extended Support’ for Windows 7 according to the company’s Lifecycle page. This means no more patches or security updates unless, as we now learn, you pay. Furthermore, Microsoft says it will increase the cost of this every year.

“Today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year,” explained Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, and author of the company’s blog post.

Pricing was not revealed by Spataro, but for some the announcement will be seen as a good thing. Microsoft could have just cut off all Windows 7 users on January 14th 2020, leaving them stranded and their data vulnerable, so the introduction of a monthly charge gives users an alternative if they remain dead set against upgrading to Windows 10.

On the flipside, given Windows 7 is still used by almost 40% of computers globally, one would suspect that many users would have expected Microsoft to recognise the platform’s ongoing importance and would have extended support voluntarily without charge.

But if you now think it is time to upgrade to Windows 10, unfortunately free upgrades to Windows 10 have now ended.

Worse still, as it stands, Microsoft is currently only making this offer to Windows 7 Professional customers in Volume Licensing. Some small businesses may qualify, but the vast majority of everyday consumers (most of whom are running Windows 7 Home) will not.

Obviously, Microsoft’s stance may change but, until it does, Windows 7 consumers will have to upgrade to Windows 10 or Windows 8 (for which support lasts until January 10th, 2023). Staying put will be unthinkable as every new vulnerability will be unpatched, leaving security holes big enough for hackers to drive a bus through.

If you do now want to upgrade, you’ll run into two pain points: Windows 8 is no longer officially for sale and Windows 10 is no longer a free upgrade, with prices for the latter starting at $NZ259 for Windows 10 Home.

Consequently, while Windows 7 users have long been able to laugh at the ongoing problems of Windows 10 users, it now appears it will be those users who upgraded for free who will get the last laugh…

But bear in mind that our redoubtable webmaster still happily uses Windows XP without any problems!

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