Could anyone offer some guidance on the future for Windows 7 please?


Hi all

Thought I would do a post here as none of the tech sites or individual bloggers I follow have done anything around the future of Windows 7, and it would be great to see if anyone could provide some answers. So if anyone could help with these points (or Paul would perhaps kindly write an article!) that would be great! Here’s some of the things I’d like to know:

Microsoft Edge (based on Chrome): after Jan 14, 2020 will it continue to receive security updates? If the updates are delivered via Microsoft Update, I’d guess the answer is no. If they come via a Windows Service (as Chrome and Firefox currently do on Win7) then I guess the answer is one of: (a) yes, but only for enterprise customers paying for support until 2023; (b) yes, for as long as Google also support Chrome on Windows 7; (c) until Microsoft decide or (d) there will be no updates, making it a security risk. It’s kind of hard at the moment to know if I should recommend friends or family on Windows 7 try the “Chrome Edge” as it’d be a bit pointless if it’ll get no further updates after the last Patch Tuesday…

Office365: after Jan 14, 2020, for home users or companies not paying for extended support, will it still install, activate and receive monthly updates? Will OneDrive still sync on Win7? I know of friends who have Windows 7 computers and use the Family Pack (the one where up-to 5 PCs can use Office365). Will it still work on Windows 7 after end-of-life?

Windows Updates and Activation: if anyone re-installs Windows 7 after Jan 14, 2020, will it still activate, and will Windows Updates still download? I know for Windows Vista that it is very difficult to get the updates to now download, and I believe both XP and Vista now only support phone-based activation, not Internet-based.

Windows 10 upgrade: after Jan 14, 2020 can Windows 7 licence-keys still be used to upgrade to Windows 10, such as during a clean-install of Windows 10 (Ed Bott hasn’t done an update of his article on this lately…)?

Drivers: do we know of any major PC components (such as AMD or nVidia video-cards) where there has been a public announcement for end-of-support for drivers on Windows 7 yet?

(I know both have dropped support for new features and moved to security-fix-only on all 32-bit Windows, but that’s due to the 4GB memory limit.)

Common Apps: have any popular apps said when Windows 7 support will end? The only one I know-of for sure is Office 2019 is Windows 10 only, but that’s from Microsoft. Anyone know of any major third-party paid or free apps saying when they will drop support?

TLS 1.3: given the release of “Chrome Edge” on Windows 7, will TLS 1.3 be backported, or will Edge either use it’s own library to support this, or only support up-to TLS 1.2 on Win 7?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer any information here!

Comments (28)

28 responses to “Could anyone offer some guidance on the future for Windows 7 please?”

  1. wright_is

    Edge: It should still get updates, but the question is how long, and whehter it is only on Enterprise machines paying for continued Windows 7 support.

    Office 365: This has already been partially restricted. I believe the 2019 (Current Branch) Office will no longer install on Windows 7, so users on Windows 7 will only get Office 365 up to October 2018 (I believe) + security updates. Office 2019 and Office 365 versions with the same 2019 basis won't install on Windows 7 or 8.

    Updates: Nothing should change here, the updates are usually left online for an extended period (I think WSUS even offers Windows 2000, XP and Server 2003 updates, for example). You just won't get any new updates, unless you are a corporate and paying for extended support on Windows 7 Enterprise, with a minimum number of seats.

    Upgrade: Officially, it shouldn't work now, but it does in many circumstances, as Paul explained on WW last week. It might work, it might not, but Microsoft will say that officially this is not a supported upgrade method, so if it works, fine, if it doesn't, you don't have any come back - make a full image backup before trying.

    • waethorn

      In reply to wright_is:

      I would expect that Edge will only get development-quality updates, not production updates.

      You can still upgrade, but it's not a valid license because the program ended in 2016, exactly one year after the launch of Windows 10. Microsoft has always held this position. Only people needing assistive technologies were allowed beyond the expiration date, but that option has also since expired.

      • Kevin Costa

        In reply to Waethorn:

        No, you can upgrade to W10 and get a digital license today, exactly like MS promoted back in the day. I upgraded hundreds of PCs to W10 after the "free upgrade" period ended, all of them activated (and reactivated after a clean install). Even Paul confirmed that it works. Try yourself and see.

        • waethorn

          In reply to Kevin_Costa:

          Just because a license activates doesn't make it valid or legal.

          If you think that an issued license is valid when Microsoft already said no, their lawyers would love to have a chat with you.

          • Kevin Costa

            In reply to Waethorn:

            Even if that is illegal, the user can't be blamed for the botched activation software, which let you upgrade for free. (spoiler: it's not illegal)

            MS doesn't care about home licenses that much, compared to business licenses and subscriptions (we are not on year 2001 anymore). They want to migrate as much people as possible to W10. If their lawyers want to sue me, they will have to sue millions of people that upgraded after the free period ended (and you know that this is impossible).

      • epguy40

        In reply to Waethorn:

        officially yes, free upgrades from Win7/8.1 to Win10 have expired in mid-2016.

        unoffically (as in behind the scenes when performing the upgrade locally using Win10 installation media from a USB or DVD drive with no internet connection), no. this zdnet article from Ed Bott proves that point:

  2. evox81

    All of these questions overlook the most important question: Should I continue using an operating system that isn't supported with security updates?

    I get it... there's something you love about Windows 7 (or hate about Windows 10), and you're free to make your own choices regarding what technology products you use. But since you've suggested that your family/friends look to you to provide technology advice, I find it irresponsible that "keep using potentially dangerous software" is something you're legitimately considering passing off as informed, savvy advice to people who trust you to know what you're talking about.

  3. jimchamplin

    Windows XP still activates. Nuff said about that.

    I still use an XP machine for vintage games. It's perfectly fine without an internet connection, and Windows 7 will continue to be just the same for the foreseeable future. The real problem is as always, web browsers.

    Browser devs are like Apple. Eager to drop support as quickly as possible, so the first femtosecond they can give you the shaft, they will.

    If the Chrome devs could come up with a reason, they'd drop support for Windows 10 19H2 and macOS Catalina. Last week.

  4. Lauren Glenn

    They still let you upgrade for free to Windows 10. Why not just do it?

    As someone who still uses an iPod Classic, I still hold on to some technology.... but it has been 4 years already.... Save yourself a lot of hassle and jump in the pool to get it over with. Otherwise, you'd probably just end up having to buy a new computer. If you need to use Windows 7 for some equipment, well, then you have to deal with the limitations therein.

  5. sandy

    It's dead, Jim.

  6. Kevin Costa

    Microsoft Edge: I think all Windows 7 users will continue to receive ChrEdge updates and features until 2023, unless the developers put a "Edition detection" inside the installer, to only work on Pro and Enterprises machines (or only work on domain-joined machines) after 2020.

    Office 365: My guess is that O365 on Windows 7 hit a wall on a build right before the "equivalent" Office 2019 build, and will receive security and quality updates only (if MS is nice enough).

    Windows Updates and Activation: I don't believe MS will cut 7 activations, just because people bought it and have the right to use an outdated software of they want. About the Windows Update, I believe that it will continue to work normally (you can even today, with lots of pain, update Windows XP via Windows Update - the site is up).

    Windows 10 Upgrade: Microsoft is going one route or other: continue letting 7 users to upgrade to 10, and have to deal with the least people necessary in 7, OR, cut the shady upgrade completely (now for good) and consider Windows 7 dead, being unsupported to upgrade to 10 without a clean install.

    Drivers: Nvidia and AMD will continue to provide drivers to Windows 7 for a while, because many gamers are not switching right now. XP received the same treatment (the lastest GTX driver for XP was released in 2016).

    Common Apps: The announcements will come as time passes. Is too soon to predict. But will happen, primarily when the extended support ends.

    TLS 1.3: See the reply from "ericlaw": https:// techcommunity. (remove the spaces). If Chrome uses 1.3 in Windows 7, ChrEdge will use it too.

  7. waethorn

    If you can't afford to upgrade technology, you should stop using it. Security threats don't stand still. You shouldn't either.

    You should have a recurring budget for technology as an operating expense within your company that includes maintenance costs to keep you in a supported environment. It isn't a capital expense that you can use forever as-is.

    Now, if you think that Microsoft is charging too much to keep your technology in a supported life-cycle period, have a business technology assessment done to see if you really need to stay in Microsoft's camp. There are cheaper options out there, but you need to know if they'll work for your company before you jump ship.

    • mikes_infl

      In reply to Waethorn: Of course, that always sounds like the reasonable answer. Until you start to think about all the sole proprietorships and "companies" that have only 1 or 2 employees and working on a shoestring budget. A larger number of companies don't expense equipment or even know what legit capital expenses are.
      Plus, I think the OP was asking in the realm of family & friends.
      You're absolutely right, for most SMB's and larger, but I'm not sure about the gig workers and micro-shops. Too many people have successfully avoided learning about what is now considered the "right" way to run business.

  8. Tony Barrett

    I can say probably say that with the few hundred million Win7 PC's likely to be kicking around come next January, the only people dropping support immediately will be MS - although, if they decide on a 11th hour reprieve - which is possible, they could keep supporting 7 for another 12 months - who knows. There are just too many users (inc business) who either aren't ready or don't like Win10.

    Win7 is a great OS, and could have been even greater if MS had refreshed it, but now were left with a dog of an OS that MS are doing there utmost to turn into a remote surveillance machine!

    • AnOldAmigaUser

      In reply to ghostrider:

      I doubt that Microsoft will do anything other than what they have stated. For those paying, there will be support; for everyone else, well, you are on your own. I imagine if the threat is worm-able, they may offer the patches broadly, but you will probably have to be a seeker to get them. That has been done for several XP. Windows Server 2003 issues.

      Considering the surveillance done by ISPs, mobile devices, social media, etc., I find it hard to get worked up about Windows 10 collecting telemetry data. You can always go to C2 security, otherwise, you are being surveilled.

      • curtisspendlove

        In reply to AnOldAmigaUser:

        Agreed. There are more than a few legitimate complaints about Windows 10, but it really isn’t that bad overall. And there are workarounds for most of the actual crappy parts (much of the telemetry can be disabled, and crapware removed, for instance).

        It really isn’t worth staying with an aging OS that will start to get pretty large security holes. And other than Apple, I trust Microsoft second-most out of the major tech giants.

        The only real, legitimate, reason that I can get behind is if business-critical applications have incompatibilities. There isn’t much you can do about that. And if that is the case, I think a lot of IT teams could come up with some excellent methods of locking those computers down in a safe environment. ;)

        I can just hear our Director of IT saying, “challenge accepted!” :p

  9. navarac

    Not very helpful perhaps but probably the best advice would have been to plan your transition to Windows 10 long before now. I don't think it is too late though, after all, you cannot afford to be on an out-of-date, unsupported, and non-updated (unless at significant cost) operating system. In the end, the future for Windows 7 is much the same as Windows XP - none.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to navarac:

      Exactly right. The future of Windows 7 is its entry into history books.

    • jchampeau

      In reply to navarac:

      I considered posting something similar but hesitated for fear I would just come across as unhelpful. My gut reaction was: it doesn't matter whether and for how long Edge, Office 365, drivers, etc., will be updated and supported on Windows 7 because the OS itself won't be. If support, compliance, and security are important--and presumably they are since OP took the time to post this--then upgrade to Windows 10. No one is writing about "the future of Windows 7" because it has no future.

      • bharris

        In reply to jchampeau:

        Which is why I cannot understand including Windows 7 in the Chromium based Edge development. I think it gave a false impression (& hope), that Windows 7 is still going to be supported in some fashion. Even if it was no more effort, I think it would have have been best to deliberately make it not work just to drive home that we're moving on.....

        • jchampeau

          In reply to bharris:

          You're right, it is a bit odd. Only thing I can think of is they're doing it on behalf of the enterprises that will pay big bucks for ongoing Windows 7 support after January.

          • bharris

            In reply to jchampeau: That is probably it. But, in my experience, big places are using custom apps that only run in old Internet Explorer versions anyhow. Last place before retiring, we had to keep a few machines running IE 7 for a specific application. My only point is a lot of the places that can afford the ongoing support are also places with legacy apps that will only work on IE anyhow.
            • curtisspendlove

              In reply to bharris:

              We have at least one of those and we aren’t a huge enterprise. And it is a very important piece of software, too. I feel bad reform the techs having to support IE simply for a couple web apps that don’t have viable alternatives. (Well to be fair they have viable alternatives, but it is the cost/benefit analysis leaning toward maintaining IE currently being the cheaper option.)

              • AnOldAmigaUser

                In reply to curtisspendlove:

                Supposedly, Microsoft has enabled IE11 compatibility in Chredge Dev channel, and it is enabled . They are urging enterprises to test it. If the application will run in IE11, it is supposed to run in Chredge.

              • bharris

                In reply to curtisspendlove: And some things, it isn't as simple as just throwing money at it. The place that I was at had an 18 year old app, I think in .Net. When I left, a year ago, they had hired an outside firm to re-write it on a modern platform. As of two months ago, the existing system had stopped working, the re-write is no where near complete & no one has a solution. Personally, I think the VP of app development should be fired. I think anyone on that level that allows a vital application to get so stale that it stops working and no one has the knowledge to fix it, shouldn't have the job. This is a company with 25,000 employees. It's too big for stuff like this to go on.....

          • lvthunder

            In reply to jchampeau:

            Yes, I think that's exactly why they did it.

  10. StevenLayton

    Waves my hand mystically in front of you...."This isn't the Operating System you're looking for....."