Written by: Andy Cooper from Solidarity IT
Does It Affect Me?
The quickest and most straightforward way to check your version of Windows, is to compare the button at the bottom left of the screen, with the table on this page. If you are unsure, use the Windows key + R, then type winver in the box that appears. This will give you the final version number, as well as the name.
If you have any other version than Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, this will affect you.
What Is Happening?
End of Life, or End of Support, is where updates are no longer released for that version of Windows. Updates may not seem to be a big deal, but they keep the computer secure against malware and hacking attempts.
When Is It Happening?
Windows 7 will stop receiving updates on 14/01/2020. Versions of Windows older than 7 have already stopped receiving updates and are even riskier to use. Windows 8.1 will be supported for three years after this date, but it needs to be fully updated, as the Windows 8.0 release has already reached End of Support.
Windows 10 is intended to be the last version of Windows, with all updates being newer versions of Windows 10. That means that older versions of Windows 10 that reach End of Life, can be freely upgraded to the latest version.
What Are The Risks?
Using unsupported software is entirely legal; it’s just not a good idea. Over time, operating systems can become vulnerable to attack, and updates help reduce that vulnerability. The Wannacry attack on the NHS was possible because the NHS was still using computers with Windows XP, which saw End of Life in 2014. The longer an operating system goes without support, the higher the risk of attack.
What Do I Need To Do?
Ideally, upgrade your computer(s) to use Windows 10, or replace any affected machines with one(s) using Windows 10. Solidarity can help you with this process and ensure your programs and data are all transferred safely.
What If One Of My Key Programs Needs An Old Version Of Windows?
If you have programs that require these older versions of Windows and they can’t be replaced when they need to be, isolate them from the internet at a minimum. Running these programs on a Virtual Machine installation from within Windows 10, using either VMWare Workstation, or Microsoft HyperV, is the best way to use old Windows versions and their programs safely. Solidarity IT can help set this up for you.