Windows 10 - upgrade necessary?
December 15, 2019 10:04 PM   Subscribe

Support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020. Do I really need to upgrade to Windows 10 - or could I get by with a good firewall/updated antivirus software? Also - do you know if the Adobe CS5 programmes work with Windows 10?
posted by Termite to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You will be able to get by without upgrading until the very day you won't. Nobody can really tell you that you will be fine and most will tell you that you should upgrade because newly discovered vulnerabilities in Win 10 won't be patched in Win 7 and that will open up a possible attack vector into your system.

I know of folks happily running Windows XP which is 5 years out of date by now. I make my living in IT. I advise all my customers to upgrade. I doubt that by end of Jan you will have been owned by someone cracking into your machine because it is Win 7. It'll rather be something where someone clicks something and enters whatnot and then stuff goes wrong.

Sorry, I do not have a better real-life answer for you.
posted by nostrada at 10:40 PM on December 15, 2019 [6 favorites]

Do you use your computer for internet banking?

Do you store identity documents on it, or scans of documents?

Do you use it to store the only copies of precious photos, videos or other materials?

Are you uncomfortable with your browsing history and any documents on your computer being shared with your family and colleagues?

Are you unable to spare the time to reinstall Windows 10 - at a time not of your choosing - or can you unable to go without a computer for several days until you are ready?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, I strongly recommend updating (I work in cyber security).

There is a lot of risk and impact here - the cost of updating would be dwarfed by just one security event. Re: backwards compatibility, I've not used it, but Win 10 generally very good with backwards compatibility.
posted by smoke at 12:28 AM on December 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes, Adobe CS5 works with Win 10.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:09 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Disagree with nostrada if you aren't using a proxy filtering service for web browsing or if your system ever leaves your network. Mean survival time for EOL windows outside a protected network is less than 20 minutes.

Smoke is much more on the money with risk assessment.
posted by bfranklin at 4:12 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

When friends or family ask me this sort of question my, perhaps a bit glib, response is "if you have to ask, then you need to upgrade."

As others have pointed out, the real-life answer is a bit more nuanced. Does the computer ever leave your house, or is it a desktop that's going to sit on a trusted network? Do you use the computer for anything that includes your private banking information or other sensitive information, or do you just use it for the Adobe apps?

If this is a workstation that sits in your house and never connects to untrusted networks, and never holds any information you wouldn't put out on the Internet of your own free will, then it might be OK to stick with Win 7.

If, on the other hand, it's a machine that you use to do all your computering and you ever take it to a coffee shop and connect to Wi-Fi, then you need to update it.

I get that the arbitrary nature of upgrading Windows and macOS every few years is frustrating, as is the dance of "let's see what is broken and I have to buy again" but it's better than the alternative.
posted by jzb at 4:36 AM on December 16, 2019

You can get a legal copy of Win 10 quite cheap.

Using Linux and Wine would also be an option.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:51 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

You don't even need to pay for the upgrade.

I did this on a Windows 7 machine last year, well out of the previously announced free upgrade window.

To the OP - how old is the machine with Windows 7? This may also influence your decision on whether to upgrade or buy a new machine.
posted by dforemsky at 5:38 AM on December 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

You don't even need to pay for the upgrade.

I actually did this at the weekend and it was completely hassle free. I intend to upgrade my other two machines this week.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:25 AM on December 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

FWIW I based my decision to upgrade immediately on this AskMefi answer posted on Friday.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:09 AM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I would like to emphasize this remark in the first comment: "You will be able to get by without upgrading until the very day you won't." Deferring security updates is like deferring home maintenance. You'll probably be fine, sure. That's true. And at the exact moment you realize you won't be fine, it will be extraordinarily expensive and far, far too late to do anything about it.

For what it's worth, Windows 10 is very good, the update is pretty painless and despite the cosmetic differences most of what you expect will be mostly in the same places doing most of the same things. The benefits of upgrading are very real - Windows Defender is amazing - and the cost of relearning a bit of muscle memory are not as bad as you might have been taught to fear.
posted by mhoye at 8:00 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Also, I was able to configure Win 10 so it looks, and is used, very like Win 7. It's been a few years now but I remember being worried that I'd end up with something looking like the Win 8 tiles desktop which I def did not want.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:28 AM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yes, yes you do. At work I am supervising the guy who's wrapping up our last 500+ Win7 holdouts. Those people are on my list because they put themselves and the rest of our systems at risk, by refusing a simple procedure that has very few downsides outside of some known situations that you should be able to avoid.

(Gosh, does that sound similar to something else, which is also "just fine until it isn't"? Well, then...)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:55 AM on December 16, 2019

Do I really need to upgrade to Windows 10

If this computer isn't in any way ever connected to the internet, then no.
If this computer is in any way ever connected to the internet, then yes.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:30 PM on December 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

You may look at the options and (incorrectly!) conclude that the risks to yourself and your own data from staying on Win7 are acceptable.

However, there are also a significant risks that your unpatched system will get pwned and used to launch network abuse against third parties. You don't get to decide, on behalf of those third parties, that this risk is also acceptable.

Firewalls and AV software and so on do not change this equation. You can argue for an exemption if the system in question is air-gapped 100% of the time, and in no other case.

You do not have to upgrade to Windows 10. You can migrate to Linux or *BSD or ChromeOS or something, so long as whatever it is receives timely security updates.
posted by sourcequench at 1:18 PM on December 16, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you all for the helpful and patient answers!
posted by Termite at 9:28 PM on December 16, 2019

You can get a legal copy of Win 10 quite cheap.

I have questions about that site. It looks very sketchy. Any idea why / how they offer licenses for Windows / MSFT products so cheaply vs. everywhere else? Seems very likely to be greymarket licenses.
posted by jzb at 7:18 AM on December 17, 2019

I intend to upgrade my other two machines this week.

Further to this comment, one was definitely not hassle-free, and I gave up. I think the laptop is too old at this point. Something to bear in mind.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thanks dforemsky, I just successfully upgraded my ancient (2011?) Thinkpad using that link with no problem. It didn't even mess up my dual-boot system (Ubuntu/Windows.)
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:17 PM on January 30, 2020

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