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Grow Your Business Technology

Time to Upgrade: Microsoft Ending Support for Windows 7 in 2020

Businesses Must Upgrade Microsoft Windows Before 2020
Credit: Katerina Graghine/Shutterstock

Microsoft released a patch today that will warn Windows 7 users that security updates are coming to an end on Jan. 14, 2020. That means those running Windows 7 after that time run the risk of opening themselves to security flaws and will not be receiving technical assistance from Microsoft.

The alerts for current Windows 7 users will start to appear on April 18, 2019. Those who are running the older operating system have 300 days to make a change. The update will go through Windows Update, so if you have automatic updates enabled, the reminder to upgrade will be downloaded and installed automatically. [Read related: 8 Reasons Your Business Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Now]

Windows 7 was first released on Oct. 22, 2009. Windows 10, the most current version of the operating system, rolled out five years ago. The change is part of the company's initiative to push all users to upgrade to the latest platform. And Windows 10 features a better security foundation.

Windows 10 features a built-in antivirus program called Windows Defender that can identify and block ransomware. It comes with a Security Center tool to whitelist or approve which specific apps can access and change files. It offers automatic updates to keep your machine up to date. Windows Firewall notifies users about suspicious activity, viruses, worms and hackers before there's a problem. Windows Defender Exploit Guard scans for and quarantines malware.

Windows 7 can still be found on about 40 percent of all desktops, according to Net Applications. Not prepared for the upgrade? Enterprise customers can pay for extended security updates through 2023.

Until relatively recently, Microsoft had let Windows 7 users upgrade to Windows 10 for free. But that's no longer the case. Windows 10 Home will cost you $139 per computer. Windows 10 Pro is $199.99, and Windows 10 Pro for Workstations is $309. The latter is intended for those who work with big data, create big graphics or edit video. 

Windows 10 requires your computer run a 1GHz processor, have 1GB of RAM for a 32-bit system or 2GB of RAM for 64-bit systems. You'll need at least 20GB of available hard drive, and a display resolution of at least 800 x 600 pixels. Installation can take some time, so give yourself at least an hour per machine.

The cost of Windows 10 Enterprise varies based on the size of your company. It has even more security features and makes the back-end management of a company full of computers easier to manage. Small businesses and solo contractors can settle on Windows 10 Pro, but larger companies that feature in-house tech support should defer to your IT team's recommendations. Here are some other features unique to Enterprise:

Windows 8 users will continue to receive updates until Jan. 10, 2023. There was no Windows 9.

Anna Attkisson

As official task master Anna loves nothing more than crossing an item off her to-do list, except possibly whipping someone on the pool table. She drives the editorial planning and execution of content on Business.com and BusinessNewsDaily. Specialties: Planning, organizing others, mastering CMSes, editing