What Happened to All the Windows 7 Toughbooks?

24th Sep 2019

Nothing, yet.

According to Statcounter, 79.48%, of all desktop computers are running a Windows operating system. As of this writing, Statcounter also reports that Windows 7 is still popular with around 33.4% of those users while Windows 10 users are averaging around the 55.7% mark. There are all kinds of sources, so you can pull data from each one and get a slightly different data set from each source, but you get the general idea. Windows 7 is still popular. Then there’s the time factor to consider. By the time you read this it could flip flop in a whole new direction, so no arguing allowed!

As many know, extended support for Windows 7 is ending January 14, 2020. Any computer still running Windows 7 after that date becomes more vulnerable to security breaches and hackers. More importantly, there won’t be anyone working to stop them. No security updates, patches, fixes or tech support.  We’ve been through this before, most recently with Windows XP. While it may feel like the end of the world, we’ll all get past it.

What does that mean to you?

Maybe nothing.

If you have a rugged computer running Windows 7 and you never need to connect that computer to the internet or a network, you may be good to go.

If you are using your rugged computer for older games, watching DVD’s, writing, vehicle diagnostics, marine engine diagnostics, charting, navigating, mapping, surveying, wood working, drilling, cutting, or anything else where you’ll never connect to the internet or a network.

More important is what you shouldn’t do. No email. No online shopping. No Googling. No social media. No surfing. No Netflix. You don’t go online with this laptop. You don’t plug your computer into any network sharing or home groups. Your rugged computer is a stand-alone machine. It doesn’t get to talk to anyone but you. That’s the only safe way to continue to use Windows 7.

No matter how diligent you are, mistakes happen. In rare cases, malware can even get on your computer through a website, in the background, without you realizing it and without you knowingly downloading anything, opening a shady email attachment, or otherwise slipping up.

What happens if I ignore that advice?

Your call, but if you’re looking for a pass, you won’t find it here.

We aren’t going to tell you that it will be okay to run Windows 7. That is why we have been transitioning our rugged computer inventory to models supporting Windows 10. As of March 1, 2019, if it runs Windows 10, it comes with Windows 10. For us, it’s the right thing to do for our customers.

What are my alternatives?

You have a few.

As of April 1, 2019 you  can purchase Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 which will get you through January 2023. This will buy you time. You can only purchase this service if you have Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise or Ultimate. If you purchased your rugged computer from us with Windows 7, you have Windows 7 Professional. If you did not purchase from us, you’ll have to check to make sure that you aren’t running Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium. These Windows operating systems will not be eligible for the Extended Security Updates. If you do choose to purchase the Extended Security, it’s only a temporary solution. You should consider the cost versus the alternatives.

If you have an adventurous spirit and like to figure things out for yourself, you can look at  Giving an old Toughbook a new lease on life with Linux and contribute to the discussion. We can’t provide support for Linux as a solution, but we have taken a look at the option. We also encourage discussion on our website about Linux so you can decide if it’s for you.

You can also read about what to expect if you decide to  upgrade your Toughbook to Windows 10 even if your laptop isn’t officially supported. Upgrading when your Toughbook doesn’t support Windows 10 can cause parts of your laptop to stop working. The only fix is to reinstall the original operating system. If you decide to upgrade anyway, make sure you back up your computer and that you have access to a copy of your original operating system before you begin.

You can always  ask us if your rugged computer will support Windows 10. Bear in mind, you’ll need to have your complete model number on hand to get the answer. Our tech bench responds to requests Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EDT). No obligation, no charge. Our techs will tell you your options in a no-pressure way. That’s just how they roll. (Insert superhero emoji here.)

If you know the mark (or MK) of your Toughbook, here’s a chart to help you figure out if you can successfully install and run Windows 10*:

Toughbook Model Will my Toughbook run Windows 10?
CF-18 NO
CF-19 YES, MK4 and later
CF-20 YES
CF-28 NO
CF-29 NO
CF-30 NO
CF-31 YES
CF-33 YES
CF-48 NO
CF-50 NO
CF-51 NO
CF-52 NO
CF-53 YES
CF-54 YES
CF-72 NO
CF-73 NO
CF-74 NO
CF-C2 YES, MK2
CF-F series NO
CF-T series NO
CF-W series NO
FZ-G1 YES
CF-H2 NO

*not a complete list.

If your Toughbook supports Windows 10, congratulations! You can take a swing at it yourself, or you can  have us do it for you. For $150 plus shipping, our technicians will set you up with Windows 10 Professional and you’ll be ready to face 2020! If you bought your computer from us, it’s only $79.99 plus shipping.

If none of the alternative solutions work for you, it’s time to upgrade your rugged computer to one that runs Windows 10. We know it hurts, but not as much as it could if you don’t. Consider buying refurbished if the sticker shock of a new Toughbook is too much to bear.

Change is Good.

Honest. Well, that’s what we’ve been told.

Windows 7 has been around for almost a decade and it has been so popular that Windows 8 was just a hiccup in the timeline. But, like all good things, it is coming to an end. As of this writing, there are 9 months to figure out what to do next. Windows 7 won’t magically disappear from your computer so you have some decisions to make.

But my software only works with Windows 7!

That is a problem.

You’re going to have to work through that one to find the best solution for you. We know that there are software programs which will only run on Windows 7. It’s time to reach out to your software provider and see what updates are available. If you’re using free open source software, it’s time to research alternatives. If you take all the precautions you can, you may be able to continue to run your Windows 7 programs, but we can’t recommend it. Seriously, per the terms of our Microsoft Refurbisher status, we are not allowed to.

Now that you know how you’re going to keep your Windows 7 OS Toughbook in good repair, there are two other things to do: prepare for your hard drive to crash and make sure you have a Windows 7 operating system restore disk in a safe place. This brings me back to recommending that you regularly back up your important files. Don't skip that part. Having backups will help you be ready in the event that your hard drive crashes and you need reload your OS.

You know what to do.

In order to promote internet safety and awareness for our customers, we are decreasing inventory on Windows 7 only computers. We will have them for a few months, but aren’t actively working to bring inventory back in to replace what sells. We have to face the future. Windows 7 has been a great operating system. Microsoft has been warning us for years. We hear your frustration and we understand. We are making the transition too. Until the techs take it away from me, I still have 7 on my desktop. I took the plunge on my home use laptop a few years ago and it works well. Like you, we will miss Windows 7. That being said, this transition is inevitable. For better or worse, it’s time to give Windows 10 a shot. We’re getting better at using it. We’re warming up to it and we’ve survived change before. We think you can too.

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