Demise of Windows 7 and the digital divide at schools

As school begins for a new year in Australia, parents are doing their best to provide their children with as modern a computer as they can afford. Many will still have Win 7 as their operating system (as many tertiary institutions also did in 2019!). But Win 7 is no longer being supported by security patches and updates, and developers will no longer make much effort to keep their apps compatible with Win 7. It may be time to upgrade if possible. So what can parents do?

  • They could just buy a copy of Win 10 and install that over the Win 7 system. From the official Australian Microsoft store that will be $AUD 225.There are far cheaper options if you google them, but I can’t vouch for their authenticity. 
  • Buy a new laptop with Win 10 pre-installed. For an Intel i5 or equivalent AMD processor and at least 500GB ram, it will set parents back at least $500, but possibly quite a bit more.
  • Buy a cheaper portable netbook. That will cost at least $300. It will have an inferior CPU (processor) and a very small hard drive – as small as 32GB, but even the 64GB models are inadequate for school requirements (unless the school is using Chromebooks). In some models the hard drive is soldered in so cannot be swapped for a larger hard drive. This is possibly the worst option – this is why:
  • If the laptop (or desktop) is working well, and you have a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for Win 7 stuck on your machine, you could try to just install Win 10 over Win 7. Download the ISO for Win 10 and use the COA as the product key. It may not work in all cases, but it has worked for me in multiple cases. There are many websites that will lead you through the process of installing Win 10. This could wipe out the Win 7 files and all personal files so make sure everything is backed up appropriately. If the COA doesn’t work, you may have to reinstall Win 7 – there are many websites that can help you with that.

Certificate of Authenticity
Microsoft Cert of Authenticity – example, not real
  • Install Linux either alongside the Win 7 system, or instead, just install Linux and in the process delete the Win 7 system (and personal files which must be backed up on an external drive beforehand!). For most people this would be free as there is no cost for most of the Linux distros and you only have to download it to use it. I recommend Linux Mint or Ubuntu.  I have installed Linux in machines that were built in 2007 and they run well with up to date Linux applications and security.
  • You could also upgrade your laptop more cheaply by buying a second hand one locally, or a refurbished one on the internet, which has Win 10 installed.

This was written using Libre Office (not Microsoft Word) on a 2013 laptop with the Linux Mint operating system, (not Windows).

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