Few versions of Windows have seen such lasting dedication as Windows 7 has since its release. In the same way so many people refused to upgrade from Windows XP until the last possible moment (and many refused long after WinXP was declared officially dead), Windows 7 usership persists. But the day of reckoning has come for Windows 7: as of January 14, 2020, Microsoft no longer supports the Windows 7 operating system at all. Technically, Microsoft ended Windows 7 support in 2015. Today marks the end of "extended support," meaning no more updates or bug fixes. Windows 7 will become more unusable and dangerous the longer you put off upgrading. It's a ghost now, and you're merely occupying the empty husk of a once living operating system. It's time to upgrade to Windows 10.
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Windows 10: OEM or Retail?If you've searched around for a copy of Windows 10, you might have noticed some of the less expensive versions are "OEM" or "for System Builders." At Newegg, the OEM install for Windows 10 is $109, while the retail Windows 10 version lists on Amazon for around $129.99. That price difference is because the retail version includes Microsoft support and can be migrated to a PC with a different motherboard later on, where the OEM version matches itself to one motherboard and one motherboard only. If you just completed assembling a sweet gaming PC, go ahead and treat yourself to the savings and get the OEM version. If you want instead to migrate the Windows 10 license to a whole new computer later on, and feel like you'd sleep easier with the full weight of Microsoft's support team, go ahead and get the retail version. You can also find it on Microsoft's site for $139.99. [poilib element="commerceCta" json="%7B%22image%22%3A%7B%22url%22%3A%22https%3A%2F%2Fassets1.ignimgs.com%2F2020%2F01%2F14%2FWindows101579030911173.jpg%22%2C%22styleUrl%22%3A%22https%3A%2F%2Fassets1.ignimgs.com%2F2020%2F01%2F14%2FWindows101579030911173_%7Bsize%7D.jpg%22%2C%22id%22%3A%225e1e1981e4b09195bc997411%22%7D%2C%22url%22%3A%22http%3A%2F%2Fr.zdbb.net%2Fu%2Fblc7%22%2C%22title%22%3A%22Windows%2010%20Home%20(USB%20Drive)%22%2C%22store%22%3A%22Amazon%22%2C%22additionalInfo%22%3A%22%22%2C%22ourPick%22%3Afalse%7D"]
Windows 10: Home or Pro?Unless you really want to have the best possible sig in forum posts to your favorite PC gaming messageboard, there is absolutely no compelling reason for you to spend the extra money on Windows 10 Pro if you're a home user. All its professional features are designed for enterprise, not for normal or even power-users. Your PC will not run better or faster with a copy of Windows 10 Pro. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=Your%20PC%20will%20not%20run%20better%20or%20faster%20with%20a%20copy%20of%20Windows%2010%20Pro."]Pro offers some great features for enterprise users like kiosk mode, support for Azure Active Directory and many more features you will never, ever need. A case could be made for Pro's encryption features versus Home, but they're overkill or not well-suited for non-enterprise users. If you want to spend the $40 extra to feel like a Windows champion, I'm not going to be able to talk you out of it. But if you don't want to waste money for features with no applications for a personal-use experience, just buy and install Windows 10 Home.
Windows 10: 64-bit or 32-bit?It's still possible to buy 32-bit versions of Windows 10, and for some specialized computer set-ups, that's all you'd really need. However, unlike Windows 10 Home versus Windows 10 Pro, you will see a drastic difference in performance with 32-bit over 64-bit. It's not the OS but the limits a 32-bit architecture has on memory. Most applications and games require at least 8GB of RAM to run, and personally, 8GB is about as low as I'd recommend anyone go when it comes to RAM. A 32-bit operating system is only able to address a maximum of around 3.5GB of RAM, whereas a 64-bit OS can address 16 exibytes, or 2^64 bytes. We're a ways off from hitting that ceiling, but the days of 4GB or less are way behind us. Don't be tempted by a lower price: whatever version of Windows 10 (or any OS for that matter) you get, make sure it's 64-bit.
Windows 10: Beware of CounterfeitsSince dropping $100 on the least-glamorous part of a PC build is something many of us would rather avoid, there's a real market for shady counterfeiters to sell used or completely useless Windows 10 installations or keys. Make sure you buy from a trusted source, and even on Amazon it can get a little muddled trying to decipher which Windows 10 sellers are legit and which aren't (check the reviews, you're bound to see people bringing it up).[poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=Make%20sure%20you%20buy%20from%20a%20trusted%20source."] The best possible place is from Microsoft itself, but if you sort Amazon search results for "Prime" with "Amazon" as the seller, you can find legitimate copies without worry. Other places to check include Newegg, Best Buy, office supply stores, and basically any place you've both heard of and trust.
How to Go From Windows 7 to Windows 10 for FreeIf you were an early Window 10 adopter, Microsoft let you upgrade free of charge. It was great news for those of us who suffered greatly under the brief, but tyrannical, rule of Windows 8/8.1. Much as Vista made people cling to their beloved Windows XP, Windows 8/8.1 and its crappiness had the same effect for Windows 7 users. The Windows 10 free upgrade program officially ended a while ago, but you might still be able to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 for free. The process is pretty simple and seems to work for just about everyone who tries it. Certainly worth a shot. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Seth Macy is IGN's tech and commerce editor and just wants to be your friend. Find him on Twitter @sethmacy.http://feeds.ign.com/~r/ign/all/~3/i3ialoaXUdE/windows-7-support-is-over-heres-what-you-need-to-know-to-upgrade-to-windows-10" target="_blank">Read More . . .