Windows 7 End of Support

Priority

Timely Attention Required

Date

To

Wisconsin County Clerks
Wisconsin Municipal Clerks
City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Milwaukee County Election Commission

From

Meagan Wolfe, Administrator

1.    PURPOSE.  This memorandum provides information about a very important computer security issue affecting many Wisconsin clerks.

2.    WHAT IS IT?  After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates and support for the Windows 7 operating system.  If you continue using Windows 7 without paid security updates and support, it is a serious risk.  Microsoft says, “If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it may become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.”

3.    WHO IS AFFECTED?  Nearly 20% of WisVote users are still on Windows 7.  Even more people may have a home computer still running Windows 7.  

4.    HOW CAN I TELL?  Most Windows 7 users will start to see a pop-up window warning you that support is ending.  If you don’t know what version of Windows you are using, an easy way to check is to look at your Start button.  The default location for the start button is in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.  Look at the chart below and compare it to the start button on your computer.

Table showing Windows versions

5.    WHAT SHOULD I DO?   If you have a supported system you don’t need to do anything.  If your computer is still running Windows 7, or any older version of Windows, you must act soon.  There are several options available: 

A.  Purchase a New Computer.  Recommended.  Purchasing a new computer ensures you will have a capable Windows 10 system that will last many years.  Good computers can be found for as low as $300.

B.  Upgrade the Old Computer to Windows 10.  Recommended with reservations.  Windows 10 retails for approximately $130 but discounts are common.  Installation is simple but takes time.  Older computers may have difficulty running Windows 10.

C.  Pay for Extended Support.  Not Recommended.  Microsoft offers extended Windows 7 support to businesses for a fee.  The cost starts at $25 per device but doubles each year.  In the long run, it is far cheaper – and easier – to instead upgrade your computer.

6.    THINGS TO CONSIDER.  

A.  Exceptions.  There are situations where some users customize their start button to something other than the default appearance.  If you are still uncertain about your Windows version, contact an IT professional or call the Help Desk.

B.  Other Software.  Some clerks may use programs on Windows 7 or 8 that will also need to be upgraded so they will run on Windows 10.  Clerks should check with vendors of those programs for technical support about compatibility with Windows 10 before making changes.

7.    I NEED HELP.  Please contact the Help Desk if you have any questions.  Call 608-261-2028 or e-mail elections@wi.gov.   We recommend everyone investigate this now so there’s plenty of time before the January 14, 2020 deadline.