Users should update to Windows 10 when possible
Q: How important are service packs? I upgraded to a Windows 10 PC and am giving my old Windows 7 PC to a friend without any PC in the home. This will allow a student to tele-school because of COVID. To delete my personal information, I reinstalled the O/S from the original disks that came with my old PC. Everything works well but I can't download a better anti-virus because the PC lacks service packs 1 and 2 and they're no longer available from Microsoft. How important are these service packs since I have downloaded AVG.
– Mike B., Niceville
A: Oh, Mike. Mike, Mike, Mike! I spent the better part of last year in my column figuratively jumping up and down, waving my arms, and warning my readers that Microsoft was ending all support for Windows 7. (Cue bad Don Corleone voiceover) And now Mikey, you come to me and ask me this favor, that I should help a man I do not know, to update this obsolete operating system? Well, I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse. (Whew – can’t end that voiceover thing fast enough!).
Before I make you that offer, Mike, let me first say, that I applaud your thoughtfulness in choosing to gift this computer to your neighbor rather than send it to the landfill. It sounds as if, even though this machine is aging, it still has some life left in it. You also did the right thing by making sure all of your personal information was removed before letting it pass from your hands. Now, although a free computer is a blessing, you’re not doing the new owner any great favor by giving him a machine that is locked into an unsupported, obsolete operating system. Which bring me to my offer. I’m actually going to make you two, and I really don’t think you can refuse because in the end you’re probably going to have to do one of these things.
Your first option is my least favorite one, which is to leave it as-is, running Windows 7. In that vein, I must answer your initial question. Yes, Service Packs absolutely are important. They contain bug fixes and security patches for all issues that were discovered after the software was released. Without these updates, some features may not work, while others might leave a system vulnerable to the exploitation of all manner of unpatched vulnerabilities. As you discovered, some third-party software actually requires service packs to be installed in order to function.
I have good news for you! Although Microsoft has brought Windows 7 to End-of-Life status and ceased actively supporting it, the service packs are still out there. One thing to know about Windows 7, there was officially only ever one Service Pack for it. Subsequent to its release, Microsoft released what they termed a “convenience rollup,” containing everything that was created after SP1. They refused to call it a Service Pack, although it sure sounds to me like it should have been called SP2. Based on the knowledge level you’ve demonstrated so far, I’m going out on a limb to assume you won’t need any detailed instructions on how to install these. So, I’ll limit my offer to this: SP1 can be downloaded at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0685A, and SP2 can be obtained at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0685B.
My preferred solution, Option 2, is to upgrade the PC to Windows 10. Yes, even though all of the public hype about upgrading systems to Win 10 for free ended over four years ago, the update is still available, and it still works. You can read more about it at TinyURL.com/IGTM-0685C. From the sound of it, you’ve got that PC all prepped for the update, but make sure you do any prerequisites that are recommended on the page.
If you find that the PC just isn’t up to the task of running Windows 10, consider scrapping Windows altogether and running Linux instead. It demands far less PC horsepower than Windows does. Be warned, however, that Linux is a strictly do-it-yourself venue. If your knowledge, or that of the recipient of your gift, isn’t up to working through issues on your own, best stick with the more mainstream Windows line. Whatever you choose, as always, I wish you good luck, and happy computing!
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