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Issue #644: November 24-30, 2019

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This is a special edition of It’s Geek To Me for the many of you who are still running machines with Windows 7 on them. I believe that I’ve answered enough questions about this issue in recent months that everybody should now be clear about the impacts and risks of sticking with Windows 7. The January 2020 end-of-life date is rapidly approaching, so now is the time to take action if you’re in that dwindling group of hold-outs.

The major decision you’re facing is not whether to try and stay with Win7. That decision has already been made for you, with Microsoft preparing to pull all support and updates for that product. It will join the likes of Windows Vista, XP, 2000, NT, ME and all of their predecessors as a mere footnote on the history of Microsoft Windows. The decision that you do need to make is whether to update your existing machine to Windows 10, or treat yourself to a new one. The remainder of this column is devoted to discussions of these options, so you can make the choice that’s right for you.

Many people might be surprised to discover that their older machine is perfectly capable of running Windows 10. All it needs is a 1-GHz or faster processor, at least 2 gigabytes of RAM (4 is better), and 32 gigabytes of free hard disk space. You’ll also need an active Internet connection for the update. Most machines from the Windows 7 era easily meet these minimum specs. If not, they probably struggle even to run Windows 7.

So now, here’s the good part. Remember that once-in-a-lifetime offer that Microsoft made back in 2015, when they offered to upgrade everybody on Window 7 and 8 to Windows 10 for free? At this point you might be kicking yourself if you didn’t take advantage of that offer, because it expired way back on July 26, 2016, right? Well, I have a little secret to tell you: In most cases, as long as your computer qualified for the original offer, it is still possible to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. That’s right. Still. For. Free. At least it is as of the date I’m writing this.

A proper discussion of the process is a bit much to fit into my little column, so I’m going to do what I usually do in that circumstance, which is refer you out to a 3rd-party website. You can learn everything you need to upgrade your machine by visiting TinyURL.com/IGTM-0644.

For those of you for whom that upgrade is not an option, or, who are considering whether you could benefit from having a nicer, newer, more capable computer – let’s chat for a moment. The single biggest reason to purchase a new machine is that immediately, in one fell swoop, you will eliminate every problem you’re currently having with your existing machine. It will likely boot faster. Programs will launch quicker. You’ll likely have far more disk space for music, pictures, or whatever electronic flotsam you like to collect. You get to start all over again with a fresh PC – a blank canvas to make your own. Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

The best part is that we’re about to enter the single best time of the year for buying electronics. I’m talking about the 1-2 punch of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Both online, and in brick-and-mortar stores, there will be sales everywhere. Go forth, and shop! The only other time of year that comes close to these deals is Back-to-School, and you’re about 4 months too late for that.

Final words of advice for buying a new system: Double-check your peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) for their age-related problems. Make sure they will run under Windows 10, or you might be making a second trip out to your friendly vendor for another purchase. Also, moving to a new machine means migrating all your files, e-mail, browser bookmarks, shortcuts, and everything else that makes your computer easier for you to use. There are numerous ways to handle this task, and I’ve written about it in the past. So either visit my column archives, or go and Google “How to transfer files to a new computer.” Take your time in setting things up, and don’t delete anything until you’re sure it’s in place on the new computer. Good luck and Happy Computing! 

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