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The End is Near! - The Age of 7 Coming to a Close


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Microsoft updated their website with current information on the planned expiration of Windows 7.  As you may have already been aware, the date for the end of extended support (i.e. the development and release of new security updates for the OS) is set for January 14, 2020 which means users who wish to continue to receive security updates and patches will need to migrate to Windows 10 before then.

The new/updated page containing this information may be found here and it also includes info on several versions of Windows Server as well as the Embedded versions of Windows 7.  More details specific to the Windows 7 End of Life policy may be found here and an FAQ about the Windows 7 End of Life/Product Lifecycle may be found here.

Below you will find my commentary on Windows 7's End of Life.  I put it in spoiler tags for courtesy since you may not be interested in my lengthy opinions on the subject and it's not essential information in relation to the links and info above.
 

Spoiler

 

I will be sad to see the end of Windows 7 support, being a diehard Windows 7 x64 user myself.  I loved Windows Vista and used it since the very first public betas were made available from Microsoft (even before the Release Candidate builds) and while I was reluctant to give it up, even after hearing all the great things people had to say about 7, I finally caved and purchased a new system that shipped with Windows 7.  The changes threw me a bit at first, and I wasn't completely sold on all of the modifications Microsoft made to Windows in 7 (I'm still not a fan of that flat glass taskbar and much prefer the nicer looking, rounded glass/3D taskbar in Windows Vista) but once I got used to it, I found my new love.  It's a smart OS that's very light on resources, and it retains virtually all the power user capabilities that were built into XP and Vista which I used to control the system and tune it to my liking, not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a performance and security perspective (I like being able to disable/cripple or even straight up remove the ancillary 'features' that I never used to make the system run faster and eliminate potential security holes/attack vectors (I was immune to the EternalBlue SMB vulnerability exploited by WannaCry/WannaCrypt0r on day 1 thanks to the fact that I'd already disabled/removed all versions of the SMB protocol and all other non-essential functions and protocols from all of my network adapters prior to the attack event because I knew I did not need them for internet access).  They also made great strides to make User Account Control (UAC) much less intrusive and annoying in 7 compared to Vista, ensuring that it still protected my system from various threats without getting in my way when I'm trying to do something like alter a system setting.

They even retained some of my favorite features from Vista (though now hidden/disabled by default) including the Windows Sidebar/gadgets (yes, I know they're insecure; that's why I have a custom shield configured for sidebar.exe in the Exploit Protection component of Malwarebytes; no malicious gadget or hijack of the site(s) any of my gadgets might communicate with will be capable of compromising my system) as well as Windows Dreamscene, the animated desktop wallpaper functionality exclusively available to Windows Vista Ultimate users as one of their "Ultimate Extras" which could be re-enabled in any version of Windows 7 through the use of a free tool found on the web.

When Windows 8 came out I was absolutely disgusted with what I saw.  Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, decided that a single interface should be used for all devices, including smart phones, tablets and other touchscreen devices so they forced this horrible, flat, ugly, unwieldy user interface on everyone, even on desktop platforms and non-touch devices called "Metro" via their new "Start Screen".  This same web-like aesthetic persists today, though to a much smaller degree, in both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 with an app store, live tiles and a flat, ugly UI that looks like it was made using construction paper.  XP with its default Fisher-Price looking 'Luna' theme was bad enough (though it could be changed easily enough, both with legit alternatives from MS, including their awesome looking "Zune" theme with its glossy black and orange color scheme as well as their gorgeous modern interpretation of Luna designed for Windows Media Center Edition 2005 called "Royale" which they made available to everyone via their website), but the flat, lifeless UI in 8/8.1 and Windows 10 is just terrible in my opinion and I can't understand why, when computing hardware is more powerful, energy efficient and advanced than ever before, they would decide to force this drab, minimalist looking UI on everyone when both Vista and 7 showed us what modern hardware could do and what an elegant OS shell could look like thanks to Windows Aero and its glass transparency effects.  They even eliminated Flip 3D, one of the most useful task-switching utilities/functions ever created in my opinion (especially once I map my middle mouse button to the WIN Key+START command to initiate it with a single click, enabling me to use my mousewheel to quickly scroll through all open windows and programs to navigate between them with ease, all the while providing me a live 3 dimensional preview of each window's/program's contents making massive multi-tasking and task-switching a breeze; the old Alt+Tab command pales in comparison in my opinion).

I hate to see 7 go, but time and technology stop for no one, and Microsoft knows this better than most, so it's a sad fact that I must accept, though I won't let go without a fight.  I fully intend to continue using Windows 7 even after its official End of Life date.  I may end up using whatever clever tricks they come up with to extend its ability to receive updates such as tricking Windows Update into believing it is the 'Embedded' version of the OS which Microsoft plans to support for at least a full year or more beyond the EoL date for the desktop versions of Windows 7, but more likely I'll just continue to do what I've always done: keep my security apps and tools active and up-to-date, keep my system locked down with all non-essential components disabled or removed from the OS to reduce the attack surface, and of course practice safe hex when surfing online.  I may even go as far as running a browser within a VM just for that extra layer of defense against infection, though I doubt it will be necessary.  I'll also continue using my massive HOSTS file which blocks countless malicious websites, ads and tracking servers (something I couldn't do on Windows 10, since Microsoft eliminated this functionality for the HOSTS file; likely to prevent users from blocking their telemetry servers, though that's just my opinion) which currently contains almost 870,000 entries, including blocks for common social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and more (because I don't use them and would rather not have their embedded trackers monitoring my every move throughout the net) and I'll keep using alternatives to Google such as DuckDuckGo and SRWare Iron to guard my privacy from their massive telemetry machines and I'll keep blocking their trackers and ads along with everyone else's.

 

 

Edited by exile360
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