The announcement that Windows 7 will begin its end of life phase on 14th January 2020 came as a huge shock to millions of people who are still using this popular operating system on personal PCs and business systems.
In effect, Microsoft will no longer support or provide any security updates after 14th January 2020. However, this does not mean that your Windows 7 PC will not boot up come 15th January so don’t panic. With that said, there are some pertinent issues you need to understand about this transition.
What does Windows end of life (EOL) mean? What does it mean for your business? What do you need to do?
What Does Windows End of Life Mean?
For context, every windows product has a lifecycle that begins when it is released and ends when the product is no longer supported. Windows 7 was released on 22nd July 2009, thus completing a full decade of service.
However, as with all systems, after a certain duration, the cost and effort of keeping it updated and patched up is no longer financially feasible, more so when there are newer versions of the system currently available. Therefore, this is nothing new in the industry – it is part of the trade.
As a matter of fact, this announcement was long overdue as Microsoft had already ended “mainstream support” for Windows 7 as from 13th January 2015. This meant that Microsoft would no longer add new features to the system and the only updates were security-related. Warranty claims were no longer valid.
In effect, from 13th January 2015, Windows 7 has been on “extended support phase”. This means that only updates that address security issues and bugs were available.
Now, on 14th January 2020, Windows 7 will enter its “end of life” phase meaning that the extended support will cease. This means that Microsoft will no longer provide support or regular security updates for PCs running on Windows 7.
Consequently, businesses which will still be using Windows 7 after the specified date will have a higher risk of exposure to data loss, viruses, cyber-attacks and computer corruption. All these risks can decimate a business and therefore are best mitigated.
What is the Impact of Windows EOL on Businesses?
Although Windows 7 is coming to its end of life, it does not mean that it will stop working on that particular day – 14th January 2020. Contrary to its literal interpretation, this will be the first day of its final days in use. Therefore, you will still be able to use Windows 7 as long as you want. However, just because you can use Windows 7 during this phase, it does not mean you should. As a matter of fact, past events indicate you should avoid using it completely.
This is not the first time that a Windows operating system has reached its EOL. A few years back, Microsoft ceased support for Windows XP. As noted earlier, the lack of security updates and patches leaves users vulnerable to emerging threats. Since a large number of PCs were still running on XP, hackers exploited a vulnerability in XP releasing the WannaCry virus – dubbed the largest computer virus infection on record.
So, while you can still continue to use Windows 7 past 14th January, it is in your best interest to seek better alternatives such as upgrading to Windows 10. Additionally, if your business is required to follow regulatory compliances such as HIPAA, latest GDPR or PCI, you cannot pass the annual audit while running on unsupported operating systems.
It is also important to note that the Windows 7 End of Life also includes Windows Server 2008. This OS which accompanies desktop versions of Windows 7 is heavily used in back-end processes of SMBs. When the extended support phase for Windows 7 comes to a close, it will equally become vulnerable.
Therefore, as 14th January 2020 approaches you should take steps to make a smooth transition.
What are Your Options with Windows 7 EOL?
You have several alternatives to protect your business:
Paid Extended Support. This will require you to pay an additional fee per computer to continue receiving security updates on a per-system basis. The fee starts at $50 for the first year and doubles every year after that for up to three years. For a business with many complex systems, this could allow you ample time to implement a migration plan although it is an expensive prospect.
Azure Hosting: Microsoft will offer free extended support to any Windows Server 2008 machine that is migrated to its Cloud platform Azure.
Hardware Upgrade: Most new laptops and desktops come preloaded with Windows 10. This will allow for a holistic transition with improved overall performance and productivity.
Upgrade to Windows 10: If the age and specifications of your current desktops and laptops allow, it would be cheaper to simply upgrade to Windows 10. This is less disruptive as all files and programs can be maintained in the current devices.
A Helping Hand
Preparing yourself and your business for transition in light of Windows 7 end of life, may seem like a monumental task. However, with the right planning, strategy and execution, this will be a smooth and flawless transition elevating your business to greater performance and productivity.
If you feel like this project is out of your depth as a business or would like to avoid pitfalls and expensive downtime, you should leverage the experience and technical knowledge of a professional IT services firm. At AdEPT, our experienced team of IT consultants leverages Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) and Azure Log Analytics to deploy windows to new devices and upgrade existing devices from Windows 7.
We recommend starting the process of transition as soon as possible so you are not caught up in a rush. So, contact our team today to learn more about how we can make this process effortless and seamless for you and your team.