When Does Windows 7 Support End?
Operating systems are not meant to last forever. Windows 7 is no exception – regardless of how popular it has been. Though Microsoft is considered an industry leader in its support lifecycle, there comes a time to move on.
Currently, Windows 7 SP1 is in its extended life cycle. That is scheduled to end on January 14, 2020. The mainstream support ended on January 13, 2015. The support for Windows 7 RTM ended April 9, 2013.
Mainstream Versus Extended Support
As the close of extended support draws near, you may wonder can Windows 7 be updated?
During mainstream support, Windows is fully supported. Once a product enters an extended support phase, however, only security patches are typically released.
This doesn’t mean you can’t update items like applications or device drivers – though manufacturers may have limited support for older operating systems.
Windows 7 in a Post-Support World
If you insist on sticking with Windows 7 after all support has ended, be warned that there are risks.
Microsoft will stop issuing security patches. This will leave you vulnerable to newer threats that surface after support ends. Issues with applications and other problems will also cease to be supported by Microsoft.
There is one exception regarding security updates, but this is only for Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise customers – and it comes at a cost.
While you can technically upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1, there isn’t much incentive for doing so. That is unless you’ve already purchased Windows 8 and feel compelled to get your money’s worth (though still debatable).
Instead, Window 10 is a better choice. It represents the latest features and enhancements. Though true fans of Windows 7 may not cheer for the newer interface, it’s still closer than (let’s say) Windows 8.
Clean Install versus Upgrade
On the surface, an upgrade installation seems the more convenient route to go. After all, your programs, settings and other files should still be there when the upgrade completes.
That said, you may encounter problems with upgrading from one version of Windows to the other – even with the improvements in Windows 10. There can be compatibility issues with older applications. Devices that used to work in Windows 7 may stop working properly – or all together.
In these cases, you may have to reinstall applications (or patch them to work with the newer O/S). There is a compatibility checker that is supposed to catch issues before upgrading, but it is hardly perfect.
Newer device drivers may need to be found and installed. Though Windows can search for you, don’t expect this to be flawless either.
Some may insist that the only good upgrade is a clean install – which reformats the drive(s) and carries nothing over. This can be more work but typically avoids the pitfalls when something goes wrong with an upgrade install.
In either case, you’ll want to back up your data.
Device Drivers and Windows
Device drivers were already mentioned as a potential pain point.
Every physical device on a Windows computer requires a software driver. These drivers must be kept up to date, regardless of the version of Windows. Sometimes they can become corrupt, go missing or require newer versions – particularly after Windows is updated/upgraded.
Finding Drivers for Windows 7
Though you can let Windows 7 search for a driver, you’re likely to end up doing the searching yourself. Before getting started, you’ll need to go to the manufacturer’s website and search for a driver. Go armed with at least the exact model of the device – if not the serial number as well.
Manually Update Drivers
If you find the correct driver, download and unzip it to a location that you’ll remember. Afterward, click on the Start button. Choose Control panel and then Device Manager.
It’s here you will find a list of devices. Right-click the desired device and choose Update driver.
Of the two choices that appear, select Browse my computer for the downloaded driver.
Drill down to the path of the driver and let Windows do the rest.
Updating Drivers for Windows 10
The steps are similar, though the search box on the taskbar makes finding things easier. It’s here you can search for and choose Device Manager.
Afterward, right-click and choose Update driver.
Familiar choices will appear.
Though it’s believed that Windows 10 is better at searching for a driver, don’t hold your breath. You may end up searching manually for one.
Automate the Task of Keeping Drivers Current
Regardless of the version of Windows, there exists an easier solution. Software, such as Driver Support, can ease the pain of finding and keeping drivers updated.
The automated approach makes sense, particularly if the list of drivers suddenly grows. This tends to happen after major updates to your O/S.
The Future of Windows
In the age of software as a service (SaaS), lifecycles and full upgrades should become a thing of the past. You can expect future versions of Windows to be little more than updates pushed to your computer – with you hardly noticing.
The need for application and driver updates will likely still be there, but at least there will be one less thing to worry about.
Trust Driver Support on any Windows Version
Since 1996, Driver Support has been trusted to alleviate the pain of keeping devices working. At least your drivers will be updated – even if your Windows 7 won’t be. Download Driver Support now.