Windows Evolution

I should open this post with an apology to those of you who subscribed to updates. It’s been half a year since my last post. My goal on setting up this blog was to post frequently, but I have since realized that I’ve said about all there is to say, particularly since I post regularly on our email list. My subscription for maintaining this page comes up in November, 2020, and I will most likely not renew it.

In about 2 weeks from the date of this post Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows 7. Many people migrated to 7 from Windows XP, which had a lot longer lifespan than Microsoft expected, and they were perfectly happy to stay on 7. The travesty of Windows Vista and the weirdness of the various flavors of Windows 8, kept them from updating. Skipping version 9, Microsoft’s current Windows is 10, and it has had a number of iterations since initial release. They now want everyone on this version, so they are pulling the plug on 7. What does this mean for you?

Hardly a month goes by without the discovery of another critical vulnerability in Windows. Pretty much every Tuesday Microsoft releases patches for these, but now those patches will only be for Windows 10. So any vulnerability in Windows 7 will not be fixed, and malware will be released that exploits it. If you have 3rd party antivirus this malware may be detected, or it may not. That depends on how many people choose to stay on Windows 7. Non-Microsoft antivirus vendors will continue to support Windows 7 only as long as it is profitable, so there is a definite risk in staying with 7.

Another reason to move to 10 is your sewing software. Just about all programs are now fully compatible with Windows 10, and any new software may not support anything earlier. Supporting multiple versions of Windows adds to the cost of software development, and Microsoft dropping support on 7 gives publishers a good excuse to stop supporting it as well.

I recently helped a friend in upgrading all the computers in his office from Windows 7 to Windows 10. This was not particularly difficult, but it did take a lot of time. You begin by downloading a copy of Windows 10. This results in an ISO file, which can be used to make an installation CD or USB drive. You then use the setup program on that to install Windows 10 on top of Windows 7. It goes without saying that you should make a backup of your current computer before doing this, but I’ll say it anyway: MAKE A BACKUP FIRST!

The installation process is excruciatingly long, as it involves downloading and installing all of the Windows updates that were made before the installer was created. If you have a slow Internet connection this could take hours, or even days. Also, as I learned the hard way, if your computer has 8GB or less of RAM you may not be able to upgrade to Windows 10 at all. You won’t get a message that it won’t work. Instead it will churn for hours installing updates, and then will fail with a cryptic error code. Googling that will produce dozens of solutions that will not work. If your Windows 7 computer has 8GB or less it may be far easier to just buy a new computer, though that comes with its own set of headaches in getting all your data and programs migrated over. Note that if you are using a Mac and running Windows as a virtual machine, you may also run into this problem. If your Mac has 8GB or less, even if you give the maximum amount possible to the VM the upgrade will fail. However if you can upgrade the amount of RAM in your Mac you can successfully upgrade.

Up until a couple of years ago it was possible to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 for free. Microsoft had a download that would do that. You can still upgrade with a download, but when it finally finishes you will see a message saying that Windows must be activated. In previous versions activation required entering an absurdly long product ID from a sticker on the installation CD case. Now you must purchase a license to get the activation code. That means buying Windows. However you can go on eBay and search for “Windows 10 activation” to find activation codes for sale. These can be left over from very large organizations that bought more than they need, but they could also be from shady sources. You have no way of knowing that, or whether they will even work. However the prices are quite low, so there is not a lot of risk. I’ve had no problems with codes that I’ve gotten this way. Look for sellers offering “instant” codes. That means you will get them by email as soon as your payment goes through. Be sure to check your spam folder, as the email may look suspicious and get binned before you see it.

During the upgrade process you will have the opportunity to preserve all of your existing files and programs. This works well, but keep in mind that any program you have that is not Windows 10 compatible will need to be upgraded after you have moved to Windows 10. If you upgraded from XP to Windows 7, there is a very good chance that your computer hardware is too old to support Windows 10. That’s another good reason to just get a new computer.

Given the technical issues that can arise while upgrading, you might be tempted to just pay a local store to do it for you. This may be a good option, but keep in mind that they will almost certainly know nothing about your sewing software and will be unable to help you if you have any problems with it after upgrading. Many sewing machine dealers are also unable to help with software issues, so you may wind up trying to get help from the software publisher. The same thing can happen if you use a family member to perform the upgrade, though in that case you will likely not be out of pocket for the cost of upgrading!