So, as many of you know, today marks the official EOL (end-of-life) date for Windows 7. There will be many who would try to tell you that running Windows 7 beyond this point is somehow an incredibly dangerous affair, and by doing so you put your system, personal information, and so on at serious risk. I'll come back to that in a bit - as I do have some things to say in regards to that.
Elaztek Software and Windows 7
The #1 thing I want to clear up is this: for the foreseeable future, our games and software will continue to support Windows 7. I can guarantee this for any project that I am the lead on - which, for now, means everything we do will have this functionality. I still run 7 and will continue to use Windows 7 as my main OS, and will continue to develop Blamite, its tools, and everything else on Windows 7. How long that will be doable, I can't say - but I have no plans to switch or upgrade anytime soon.
If you don't want to hear my thoughts about the idea that running 7 is a security risk, and the people who spread that idea, you can stop reading now. While some may consider this part to mostly be opinionated, I think it's a lot closer to reality than alternative.
The Windows 7 Doomsday-ers
A lot of people would try to convince you that you should upgrade to Windows 8 or 10 immediately. I'm sure as time goes on you'll see an increasing amount of people saying things like "Windows 7 is dead", "either upgrade to 10 or take your Windows 7 PC off the internet immediately", and so on.
When software reaches end-of-life, it stops receiving updates. Period. No security patches or feature updates. The primary point of concern are security updates. These are what are stopping with the end-of-life. For security-essential systems, this is a big deal. For folks who aren't nearly as tech-savvy, this is still a fairly big deal. For someone who knows how to safely browse the internet and isn't being actively targeted, I'd argue that, for the most part, it's not the end of the world.
Viruses do not appear on a system unprompted. They must be introduced to the system through some point of entry. If a system is offline and isn't networked to other devices, that's about as safe as you can get. You can run virtually any OS you want and be fine. The general population would agree with me there. However, what most people would tell you is that having a system networked or connected to the internet at all is a major security risk.
I can't help but laugh at this idea. People act as though, starting today, if you hook up a Windows 7 PC to the internet, it'll just magically get infected with WannaCry or some other awful virus. Like it'll just magically break without any human operation. Maybe that's not what people believe, but with the amount of "better unplug that ethernet cable" makes me wonder. If you're a big security guru then I'd love to hear your take on it if you disagree - I admit I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to security, hence why I'm not the one who handles all that stuff.
If you have a variety of systems networked together, sure - maybe you're more vulnerable to a virus that spreads over LAN and infects various machines on it. These viruses do exist, no doubt about it. But the point still stands - they must be introduced somehow. One of those systems must be infected first. YOU have to introduce the virus to one of your computers for this to happen.
Antivirus exists. Avast is one I've used for a while, and it still supports all the way down to XP to this very day. Beyond that, if you know what you're doing online and you aren't actively being targeted by someone (which most people usually aren't), then chances are you won't have much issue. If you're seriously concerned, then by all means - upgrade. But please don't spread the argument that running an old OS online is this horribly dangerous idea - because it's not.
Why not upgrade?
So I suppose the big question is - why not upgrade? After all, Windows 10 is just great, isn't it?
Allow me to list off a few of the major issues that I personally have with 10:
- Lack of control over updates - all updates are forced onto the machine without 3rd party tools or registry/group policy manipulation, which isn't even possible unless you're running Windows 10 Professional or higher
- Lack of update Quality Control - several awful updates have been shoved out, breaking anything from drivers to software, or worst of all, deleting user's library folders and potentially irrecoverably deleting years of invaluable data
- Increased System Security - No, I'm not talking about virus protection or things of that nature. Rather, how the OS is becoming increasingly locked-down. Apps from the Microsoft Store will barely grant you read access with a lot of fighting, and now not even Linux is able to drive around the folder security like it was before. The idea of having folders/files on YOUR computer that YOU cannot access just... feels wrong
- Control Panel vs Settings App - System settings are spread out across two locations for seemingly no real reason.
Windows 10 has some nice features, but for me personally they aren't enough to warrant dealing with these hassles and more. I like to use 3rd party themes via stuff like UxStyle, and on 7 it works flawlessly. On 10, it barely works and if you install a theme for an incorrect version of Windows 10 your system will become unusable and require a total reinstallation.
If you like the new start menu, or you have games that require DX12, then sure - stick to 10 and enjoy those features. Me? I'll stick to 7 - and in the offchance anyone out there feels the same, fret not - our games will support 7 for as long as we can realistically do so.