Microsoft Windows 7 - End-of-Life
01/30/2020

Windows 7 End-of-Life?

In the April 2014 issue of QST, I wrote an article entitled “Windows XP – Goodbye, Old Friend” where I discussed Microsoft’s planned end-of-support for Windows XP.I don’t plan on writing another article for QST on this topic, but I wanted to pass this along to our friends via the newsletter.Feel free to share this with your friends.

At the time I wrote the article, I said that Windows XP SP3 was the most stable operating system ever made by Microsoft – and it was!Much of the discussion was about the lack of an upgrade path to Windows 7 or 8 from Windows XP.I provided tips for migrating to a new PC (unrelated to Ham Radio Deluxe or any specific software).

So allow me to share this with all of you…

As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft discontinued support Windows 7.

What does this mean for you?

Will Windows or your computer stop working?No.However, several things will begin happening that you should know about.

First of all – Microsoft will no longer develop patches (fixes or security).If everything you’re using on Windows 7 works now, then you may not care about the fixes.But over time, you should care about the security patches.One the updates Microsoft is releasing for Windows 7 (KB4493132) will display notifications reminding Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 before the End of Life date.

On a related note – this is one of the reasons why there was no migration path from Windows XP to Windows 7.That is – when Windows Vista was created, Microsoft created something called the “Windows Security Model.”It was quite different than the security of Windows XP.In Windows XP, the user was always operating as the administrator of the machine – with full access privileges.Rarely ever is this a legitimate need (more about this in a moment).The Windows Security Model is based on “least privilege”.That is – the user should not have full access except when absolutely necessary and applications will not run with full access.

The reason why applications should not run with full access (“as admin”) is because this opens the computer up to malicious attacks by viruses, worms, trojans, and so on.(Much of this has to do with excessive privileges for certain folders and portions of the Windows registry.But for us hams, we should be concerned about applications having open IP ports while running as admin – that is a bad thing.)I’ve been deploying software coded from scratch for almost 30 years now to thousands of Windows computers and I’ve never seen an application that legitimately needs to run as admin… nor a case where a user requires it.Applications that are installed or need to be run as-admin are either a result of incompetence, a disregard for security, or just plain laziness.(Applications that need elevated privileges during the install should be capable of elevating their own access during the installation.This is why you sometimes see a popup when installing something that asks you for permission.It’s the installer asking for permission to elevate its access.)

The point I’m making here is this.Because Windows XP used a security model that was completely opposite this new model, it was one of the reasons there was no upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 7.

Second of all – hardware manufacturers will stop making drivers for Windows 7.In this, I’m referring to everything from printers and USB devices to ham radio hardware.

Finally – Microsoft will remove support for Windows 7 from their development tools.This is why some Windows XP users found error messages when trying to install newer software on the older operating system.

For us here at HRD Software, we use Microsoft Visual Studio to create and compile the code that becomes Ham Radio Deluxe.We need to be on a development platform that Microsoft can support.So, on January 14, 2020, we’ll discontinue support for Windows 7 for that reason.

At this point, there will be a considerable number of folks who are reading this who will want to send me email telling me that Microsoft is forcing us all to their latest operating system upgrade and that if only we all embraced some version of Linux, we would all live in a beautiful world.

The truth is – the practice of moving people onto a supported operating system by force is not uncommon.Those of you who have an iPhone or Android phone will noticed that those upgrades are forced.As for Linux, there are upgrades there as well.The only benefits I can surmise about running Linux is that it’s FREE and is distanced from Microsoft.So, all the “Microsoft haters” love Linux.But then again, Apple’s Mac computers also have upgrades and they’re not all free.

[At some point, we plan to have a version of Ham Radio Deluxe that will run natively on Linux and/or Mac.So, it’s okay to hold off on that email asking me about it.]

Okay.Windows 7 goes away in 10 months.What should you do to prepare for this?I’ve got a few tips that I’ve used personally and professionally that I can offer.

First – if you can afford it, just buy a new computer that already has Windows 10 on it and save yourself the grief related to doing the upgrade.Just last week, I purchased a computer for $175 off Amazon that had an Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core processor, 8GB RAM, 500GB SATA, Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit, and USB 3.0 ports.That’s plenty enough muscle for your shack.

Second – use something like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Google Drive… and so on… to store your files – ALL of them.I have accounts for them all.The only one I pay for personally is OneDrive.But let’s use Dropbox as an example.If you install the Dropbox client on your old machine and allow the files to fully sync “to the cloud”… then after you install the Dropbox client on the new computer, all your files will sync to your new computer.There’s no more copying to an external USB drive or anything… it just works without any more effort than installing the Dropbox client on both machines.(This will require that you stop using local folders on your computers and start saving everything in the Dropbox folders.But it’s well worth it.It’s been many years since I’ve moved any of my files around manually between computers.All these other things work just like Dropbox.Investigate the ones that fit for you.)

From there – and this is the least convenient part of it (with benefits) – you need to install all the software you own on your new computer from scratch.This requires that you have access to the original media or can download it, and that you have the software activation keys.The benefit of doing this is that this new computer will be as clean as a freshly made bed.As a result, any problems that existed with the previous computer won’t be carried to the new one.

Finally, if you can’t afford the $175 for a replacement computer, you can buy Windows 10 and do the upgrade.I see that Windows 10 Home is $139 on Microsoft’s online store.You might find it cheaper.But make sure you can trust the source, if you want an authentic copy of Windows 10.Then again, you might just look at the difference between getting a new computer that already has Windows 10 installed versus the cost and effort of buying and performing the upgrade.

Summary:

  • Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020.Those who use Windows 7 have about 10 months to prepare.
  • As a result, HRD Software will drop support for Windows 7 at that time.Versions of Ham Radio Deluxe released after that point will not run on Windows 7.
  • Consider your path to Windows 10.Will you buy a new computer?Or will you do the upgrade?
  • Get all your files moved onto cloud storage like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, and Google Drive.Use this to sync your files between all your computers.
  • Store your installation media and software activation keys for your software in cloud storage or somewhere safe where you can get to it to reinstall it.
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