Windows

10 Windows 7 End of Life Alternatives

Ben Stegner 12-02-2020

After a long run of over 10 years, Windows 7’s time in the spotlight has come to a close. The Windows 7 end of life date has hit, meaning that Microsoft no longer supports the fan-favorite operating system.

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Let’s review what the Windows 7 EOL means for users still on that platform and look at your best options for jumping ship from the aging OS.

What Is Windows 7 EOL?

EOL, or end of life, refers to the final date that Microsoft supports one of its products. After this time, Windows does not receive any updates to fix bugs or resolve security issues.

The Windows 7 EOL date was January 14, 2020. After this point, Microsoft considers Windows 7 a legacy operating system and has dropped support so it can focus on current offerings. Read our Windows 7 end of life FAQ 6 Tips for Windows 7 End of Life and Support Windows 7 End of Life is approaching. Learn what to do next as extended support for the aging OS ends in January 2020. Read More for more information on this.

Of course, Windows 7 still works after the end of support. However, if you’re using Windows 7 today, you should make plans to move to a different platform soon so you can stay secure.

Let’s look at all the options available to you after the Windows 7 end of life. Not all of them are viable, but we’ll list as many as possible so you know your options.

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1. Buy a New Computer With Windows 10 Installed

For most people who are happy with Windows, this is the best option. Chances are that your Windows 7 machine is pretty out of date, making this a perfect time to jump to Windows 10 on a fresh computer.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a suitable computer. Take a look on Amazon for a laptop or desktop that suits your needs—we’ve rounded up some affordable but high-quality laptops for students The 7 Cheapest High-Quality Laptops for Students on a Tight Budget Finding a high-performing, affordable laptop is tough. Here are the best laptops for students that don't break the bank. Read More that might work for you.

Nearly every off-the-shelf computer you see today will have Windows 10, so it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your budget and needs.

2. Build Your Own Windows 10 Desktop

If you can’t find a computer in the store that works for you, why not take this opportunity to build your own machine? It’s not too difficult to build your own PC, and you can decide exactly how much you want to spend on it.

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Start by picking the right components for your PC build How to Pick the Right Components for Building Your Next PC Building a PC is challenging, but get the hardware balance right and the result can be a computer that is as powerful as you need. Read More , then follow our guide to building your own PC How To Build Your Own PC It's very gratifying to build your own PC; as well as intimidating. But the process itself is actually quite simple. We'll walk you through everything you need to know. Read More once you’re ready to start.

Keep in mind that with this option, you’ll need to obtain a license for Windows 10 yourself. While you can buy this straight from Microsoft, it’s also possible to use other methods to get a cheap and legal Windows license How to Get Windows 10 for Free or Cheap Windows is expensive. Here's how to buy a Windows product key cheaply or get a license for free legally without breaking the bank. Read More . Those with a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 key can still use that to activate Windows 10.

3. Install Windows 10 on Your Current PC

Windows 10 Ready to Install Media Tool

While the requirements to run Windows 10 aren’t too demanding, we still don’t recommend upgrading your current system from Windows 7 in most cases. If you’ve had your PC for a long time, chances are that it’s underpowered and won’t run Windows 10 well.

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You’re better off moving to a new system that will run Windows 10 more smoothly. However, if your computer is newer or was top-of-the-line when you built it, you may be able to use Windows 10 on it for a while. This will depend on your system.

4. Upgrade to Windows 8.1

Windows 8 never had the popularity of either Windows 7 or Windows 10, but it’s still around. The end of support for Windows 8.1 isn’t until January 2023, so you can use it as a Windows 7 alternative.

However, we would avoid this as well. Windows 8.1 doesn’t offer as many features as Windows 10, and the touch-centric interface was a hassle for many during its heyday. Finding a genuine Windows 8.1 license isn’t as easy as getting one for Windows 10, and it’s difficult to find a PC with Windows 8.1 preinstalled.

Additionally, if you move to Windows 8.1, you’ll have to upgrade again in just a few years when its EOL date comes. Moving to Windows 10 will save you time down the road.

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5. Buy a Chromebook

chromebook asus c202sa

The above four options all involve sticking with Windows. However, if you’d like to try something different after leaving Windows 7, you have many other possibilities.

A Chromebook provides an easy-to-use alternative to a Windows laptop. Chromebooks offer automatic updates, built-in virus protection, great battery life, and even the ability to run Android apps.

They don’t have a lot of local storage or powerful hardware, so they aren’t great for tasks like gaming or video editing. However, for light use, they offer great value. Take a look at some of the best Chromebooks The 5 Best Chromebooks for Every Type of User Looking for the best Chromebook on the market? Here are the best Chromebooks depending on your needs. Read More for a few ideas.

6. Use CloudReady on Your Current PC

Don’t have the money for a Chromebook? A company called Neverware provides a free open source alternative to Chrome OS titled CloudReady. This allows you to repurpose old computers as makeshift Chromebooks How to Turn Any PC or Laptop Into a Chromebook or Chromebox With this step-by-step tutorial, you can turn almost any computer into a Chromebook or Chromebox with CloudReady. Read More at no cost.

Since Chrome OS is light compared to Windows, it will almost certainly run better on aging hardware. Give it a look if you want to get another year or two out of your current computer before buying a new one.

7. Give Linux a Try

Linux is a family of open source operating systems that you can install on nearly any PC. If a Chromebook is too limiting, but you don’t want to pay a lot of money for an upgrade, Linux is a great option.

You might consider installing Linux on your current computer if it’s not too outdated. Otherwise, you could purchase a cheap used computer online and install Linux on that. If you want to go all-in, you can buy a ready-made computer with Linux preinstalled.

We’ve recommended Robolinux as one of the best Linux distros for Windows users Why Robolinux Is the Best Linux for Windows Users Switching from Windows to Linux can be tough. Make it easier by choosing Robolinux, the best linux distro for Windows users. Read More , so take a look at that if you don’t know where to start.

8. Move to a Mac

macos catalina update

On the other end of the spectrum, you might consider switching to a MacBook or iMac. Apple’s computers, while expensive, are known for their high quality. In addition to the premium build quality, Macs are powered by macOS, which Apple fans swear by.

A Mac will last you many years compared to a cheap Windows computer. If you’re considering the move, take a look at how to save money when buying a MacBook 5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a MacBook Looking to get a MacBook for cheap? Here are some useful tips for saving the most money when you buy a Mac laptop. Read More so you get the best deal.

9. Pay Microsoft for More Windows 7 Patches

You might be surprised to learn that Microsoft actually offers Windows 7 updates past the end of support date, for a fee. This is mainly for businesses that need to keep using Windows 7 for backward compatibility or similar reasons.

Microsoft’s Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) are available on a per-computer basis, and the price goes up every year. You can only take advantage of this for Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise systems and must have purchased them through a volume licensing agreement.

Because of this, home users almost certainly can’t take advantage of the paid updates. Even if you did, it doesn’t make sense to pay so much when you could put that towards a new computer. See Microsoft’s Windows 7 ESU FAQ if you’re interested, but this is not really an option for 99% of home users.

10. Do Nothing

Of course, you can take no action for now, though we don’t recommend it. Windows 7 will continue to work for a while, but over time, the platform will become increasingly insecure. As we saw with Windows XP, major software will start to drop support for Windows 7 before long.

You should make a plan to follow one of the above options as soon as you can. If you don’t have the budget for an upgrade, installing CloudReady or Linux on your current computer is a suitable option until you can get a new machine.

How Will You Respond to Windows 7’s End of Life?

We’ve looked at all the major alternatives for Windows 7 users. Since the Windows 7 EOL date has already come and gone, you should make plans to migrate as soon as possible. This is a great time to buy/build a new computer or try a new operating system, so we’re sure you’ll find a suitable option.

For more on this, find out why people still love Windows 7 so much Windows 7 vs. Windows 10: 5 Reasons Your Old Love Is Still Going Strong Some people refuse to give up Windows 7 and upgrade to Windows 10. Why? Well, there are lots of contributing factors. Read More .

Explore more about: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. Rich
    February 16, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    One thing that people really should be more aware of is that *most* laptops are a lot more upgradeable than people expect them to be.
    The CPU can often be removed and replaced in much the same way that a desktop CPU can be (once you've taken the whole thing apart, granted).
    You'll usually find that there's a support topic on the internet already about the best CPU that your laptop can take. Often you'll find that a manufacturer realised another model with a much better CPU, based on the same motherboard.
    If your laptop has DDR3 RAM in it, it can almost certainly be upgraded to at least 8GB.
    So your 10 year old, windows 7 laptop, with a core 2 duo CPU, 4GB RAM, SATA HDD old could become a i5, 8GB RAM, SSD Windows 10 laptop for much, much less than you'd spend on a second hand laptop with the same specs.

    • Rev Lee
      February 19, 2020 at 5:03 pm

      You can NOT replace a Core 2 Duo processor with an i5 without replacing the motherboard, and that is difficult at best, and usually impossible in a laptop.

  2. Jason
    February 15, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    It's 2020. Time to upgrade a lot of things. A car you bought in 2004, for example, probably needs to be replaced, and that costs many thousands of dollars. An OS is far less than that.

    The world and technology aren't going to stop for you.

    Either update or find some other way of getting online.

  3. Don
    February 14, 2020 at 2:31 am

    I'm done with Microsoft. They have abandoned me too many times, they have made computing more cumbersome, and in W10 they have destroyed the concept of personal computing. And they want me to buy a new computer when my 9-tear old HP works just fine. Hello, Linux Mint

    • Jason
      February 15, 2020 at 5:11 pm

      Boo hoo. Gawd I hate whiners.

  4. Yan
    February 12, 2020 at 10:27 pm

    I have a question, an important question:
    I want to change to Win 10 but i have a great fear to lost all my items like games, songs and other archives. If i do this, i going to lost all or have a way to save all of them (except using an external HD)?

    • Ben Stegner
      February 12, 2020 at 10:45 pm

      It depends on how you upgrade. If you install Windows 10 on your current hard drive and choose to wipe out everything on the disk, then yes---you'll lose everything in that case. If you move all your files to external hard drive and then install Windows 10 in your internal disk, you won't lose as much.

      You'll have to re-download installed software, including games, on a new system. But files are transferable across versions.

      Before you do anything, I would make a backup as soon as possible. That way, you have a copy of your most important data if something goes wrong. See here for help on this: //www.makeuseof.com/tag/download-stuff-happens-the-backup-restore-guide/

  5. dragonmouth
    February 12, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    "You might consider installing Linux on your current computer if it’s not too outdated. "
    That would have to be a VERY outdated PC. Linux can run quite capably on computers that Win XP would bring to their knees. Reviving and revitalizing old computers that refuse to run Windows has always been Linux's forte.

    The one problem Linux presents to many Windows users is that it cannot run the number of games that Windows can. Other than that the apocryphal "average user" can use either Windows or Linux with few problems.