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Microsoft is ending support for Windows Vista

Vista PCs will no longer receive critical security updates. Should you upgrade or buy a new computer altogether?

Microsoft will stop updating Windows Vista on 11 April, 10 years after its release.

The much maligned operating system will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft. This means computers running Vista will be more susceptible to viruses and malware that target the operating system. In short, it won’t be safe to go online with a Vista PC.

A Microsoft support page details the decision to stop supporting Vista, stating: ‘Microsoft has provided support for Windows Vista for the past 10 years, but the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.’

It’s important to note that Microsoft isn’t flicking a kill switch on 11 April. Although Vista will no longer get critical updates, PCs and laptops running Vista will still work. You can even run up-to-date security software on them to deal with day-to-day viruses. But a risk remains if you continue to use a Vista PC while connected to the internet, and Vista users should consider their upgrade options.

Best Buy laptops – amazing laptops running the most up-to-date version of Windows

Should you upgrade to Windows 10?

Upgrading from Windows Vista is a must when the support stops in April. PCs running Vista will only become more vulnerable as viruses writers learn to exploit weaknesses in the operating system that Microsoft is no longer patching with security fixes.

Microsoft supports its operating systems for 10 years, sot Windows 7, 8.1 and 10 are all still supported. You can upgrade a Vista PC to Windows 7 reasonably easily, and this operating system will be supported until 2020. As Windows 7 is no longer commonly on sale, it may be best to head to a trusted local computer specialist to perform the upgrade – this should cost under £100.

Windows 10 is the latest operating system from Microsoft. There are no plans for an 11 or 12 – instead, Microsoft intends to support 10 with incremental upgrades. It isn’t free to upgrade a Vista computer to Windows 10 – it’ll cost around £100 for a licence.

The likelihood is that a PC or laptop running Windows Vista will be pretty long in the tooth. An older machine may not run Windows 10 very well. You may be better off replacing your computer altogether.

You can find out exactly what new features you’ll get from Microsoft’s newest operating system in our Windows 10 review. If you’re confident your PC can handle a newer version of Windows, head to our Windows 10 upgrade guide.

If you’re having any problems upgrading your PC your laptop develops a fault you can seek out a Which? recommended computer repair centre at Which? Trusted Traders.

Windows alternatives

Your next computer doesn’t have to run a Microsoft operating system. Chromebooks, which use Google’s operating system, are becoming more popular and are available for as little as £200. Some Microsoft programs, such as Word and Excel, won’t be supported, but an ever-expanding Chrome app store has many alternatives. You can find out more about Google’s computers in our Chromebook guide.

You could also consider a MacBook. Apple’s computers have their own operating system, but they are expensive, so probably not worth bothering with if you’re looking to upgrade on a budget. If you fancy an Apple computer, use our MacBook buying guide to find out which Mac will suit you best.

If you don’t want to buy a new computer, installing Linux on your Vista PC is another option. Linux is a free, open-source operating system. But it can be difficult to install and use if you’re a non-expert, and your only support will be internet forums. We wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re an experienced computer user.

Our Vista upgrade guide will give you more information on the choices available.

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