Windows 7 still running in a quarter of the world’s computers even though its standard technical support ended more than a year ago and with that it no longer receives security updates.
The data comes from Kaspersky and is obtained from the machines that use the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN). The cybersecurity specialist notes that the Windows 7 usage quota is 22% and it is distributed almost equally between consumers, SMEs and very small companies (VSB). Kaspersky reasons that the use of Windows 7 by VSBs is particularly concerning, as they do not have the resources to hire dedicated IT security personnel and the use of an outdated system puts them at a much higher risk of cyberattacks.
The reality is that Windows 7 ended the life cycle on January 14, 2020 which means that the operating system you will not receive security updates and you will potentially be exposed to cyber attacks by taking advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities. The usage quota that Kaspersky talks about is very high and represents tens of millions of machines, consumer equipment, business clients and also computer networks where they sometimes work together with computers with other systems that may also be affected.
Alternatives to Windows 7?
I love Windows 7, but everything has its time … It came to overcome the Vista fiasco and became one of the most successful operating systems in history by offering advantages in usability, support, stability, performance and a well recognizable interface. With the reinforcement of a Service Pack and a second update convenience rollup package the system has been in excellent shape for the last decade.
The problem is that time passes for everyone and in the current conditions of global cybersecurity with vulnerabilities and attacks on a daily basis, we cannot recommend the use of a system that does not have regular security updates. There are alternatives and they are well known. We review them:
It is the most “natural” movement for a user or company that uses Windows 7. Security is the clearest point to advise the jump since in addition to security patches it has protection technologies that Windows 7 does not have. It has better support for new technologies and exclusive features such as DirectX 12, and it is the only system that has compatibility and synchronization with other devices such as Android that Microsoft has adopted as its mobile reference system.
Voucher. It has disadvantages compared to Windows 7, but if you want to stay in the Windows ecosystem there is no other possible solution. Microsoft will make your way easier because the free update program from previous operating systems such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 continues to work four years after its official end.
A great alternative to Windows 7 is to go to the free system. On paper, any computer running Windows 7 today will be able to safely move a modern GNU / Linux distribution. They offer great support for the main architectures using free or proprietary drivers and you should not have problems to support at least the primary hardware, (motherboard, processor, graphics, RAM, SSD …).
Installing Linux is as simple as installing Windows. It is totally free, open source, with permanently updated security, with thousands of free applications and hardware and software support (including games) that – without being Windows yet – has dramatically improved in recent years. There are dozens of different layouts you can use.
For those looking for another radical infrastructure change, macOS is a great solution, although you will have to invest in a new computer. For many years, the Cupertino firm has not licensed its operating systems to other manufacturers and reserves them exclusively for its own. Remember that Apple officially supports Windows 10 on their computers, so a user who makes the leap to Mac can have both operating systems with official support.
A second option is the creation of a Mac clone using the Hackintosh technique. We cannot directly consider it an alternative to Windows 7. It is reserved for advanced users who want to “work it out” and requires a very particular type of hardware for everything to work properly.
We’ve been saying for a long time that Chromebooks are a very real alternative to Windows and macOS. In fact, Chromebooks have been able to outperform Windows in some segments of the computing desktop such as the education sector and in 2020 they were the PCs that grew the most when confinements due to the COVID pandemic forced the purchase of infrastructure for teleworking, study on -line and leisure at home.
Chrome OS is the most commercially successful development of those using the Linux kernel and has improved significantly in the decade that it has been in the market for approaching what a typical desktop, Windows or macOS offers. Although Chrome OS can be run on almost any computer, the best experience is that of new computers with the system pre-installed. There are of all types and budgets, some as good as in the rest of platforms.
More radical alternatives to Windows 7
They are little known to the general public and cannot really compete with Windows, macOS, and Linux on a commercial level. They are not even a complete replacement to the use of the big three. They are not updated as frequently, nor do they work for everything and for all users, but they do exist.
Last week we proposed a dozen of them, from FreeBSD and OpenBSD as representatives of the “clones” of UNIX, to the FreeDOS compatible with MS-DOS applications and drivers. There are others under BeOS, based on OpenSolaris, clones of AmigaOS, the “Windows without Microsoft” that ReactOS promises or the system for the end of the world, Collapse OS. No, they are not direct alternatives to Windows 7, but they can cover specific niches and satisfy the most curious who are looking to try other things.