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20 March 2019

Windows 7 end of life: Are you prepared?

  • Enterprise mobility + security
  • Microsoft 365
Mathew Richards

As Windows 7’s end of support date draws near, now is the perfect time to invest in an upgrade.

As of 14 January 2020, all support for the Windows 7 operating system will cease. As it reaches the end of this ‘Extended Support’ phase, there will be no further security updates, which could present a serious problem if you’re still running the software.

Every Windows product has a lifecycle, and after nearly a decade in use, it’s only natural for Microsoft to look to bring support for Windows 7 to a close with their focus moving to Windows 10 and Microsoft 365.

But what does that mean for those near 40% of the world’s users still utilising Windows 7 in their day-to-day operations?

 

End of support 2020: Your questions answered

Let’s look at some of the most common questions Windows owners have about Windows 7 coming to an end…

Will my Windows 7 device still work after the 14 January?

Yes, it will. A common misconception, end of life does not mean that Windows 7 will cease to function. On 15 January 2020, you’ll still be able to turn your computer on and continue to use it as normal.

What will have changed, however, is that Microsoft will no longer be actively developing security updates and patches to keep Windows 7 users safe from malicious users.

Windows 7’s complimentary support and updates have already ceased, with extended support only offering paid security updates to keep users protected. So, for any business running Windows 7, its age has already begun to incur a financial cost.

And there are greater potential costs in store for those who continue to run Windows 7 post January 14. With new threats and viruses constantly being developed, a business or organisation running an exposed operating system would be a tantalising target.

Remember, Microsoft can block machines at any time if they’re a perceived threat, so it’s best to be prepared and look ahead.

So, what are my options?

Upgrading a businesses operating system is a task often postponed for as long as possible, but remains inevitable if a business wants to remain secure and productive.

Thankfully, Microsoft aims to make that transition as easy as possible, offering many advantages to adopting their latest operating system, Windows 10.

At its core, Windows 10 remains largely compatible with its predecessors. Which means your files and applications will move with you, and your staff will still be familiar with how to access and use them.

Updating to the latest version of Windows 10 will also get you access to Microsoft’s built-in security features such as:

  • Windows Hello, which provides you with secure password free sign-in.
  • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, enabling you to investigate and respond to digital threats.
  • Windows Information Protection, to guard against any accidental data leaks.

Now, you might be tempted not to make the jump to Windows 10 in favour of a smaller and cheaper bump to Windows 8, but this would only provide a temporary fix to your problem.

Whilst Windows 8 is newer, it too will soon be nearing its end of life phase, presenting you with the same dilemma. After a while, the cost, time and effort involved to keep it running securely would outweigh any investment you could make into Windows 10 now.

“The more people using an outdated operating system will make it even more appealing to attackers.”

But there’s also an added incentive to upgrade to Windows 10. As part of its launch, Microsoft announced Windows as a Service (WaaS). This means that you’ll get continuous functionality, features and security updates, without having to worry about updating to a new operating system and yet another implementation.

In effect, even if Windows 10 is unrecognisable from its current form in 10 years or so, you’ll get all future updates as part of the service.

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Ok, so what should I be doing now?

When Microsoft ended support for XP in 2014, it affected 40% of one billion computers worldwide. According to netmarketshare, Windows 10 has only just overtaken Windows 7, which means that whilst people are moving in the right direction, some 38% of the world’s users are still running Windows 7.

This could pose a potential problem: the more people using an outdated operating system will make it even more appealing to attackers. The sooner you begin to draw up and implement an upgrade plan while support for Windows 7 is still available, the better off you’ll be.

As a starting point, here are some steps you should look to take:

  • Identify machines and devices that will require replacing/upgrading.
  • Put together a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements.
  • Implement security controls that separate critical systems from Windows 7 machines that cannot be upgraded or removed.
  • An employee training plan for use of the new system (though previous Windows users should take to it easily).

January 2020 may seem a way off, and Microsoft are making efforts to ensure the transition to Windows 10 is as seamless as possible, but don’t underestimate what unforeseen complications may occur en route.

For those that fall short of the expiry date, Microsoft are offering special support options for Windows 7 post January 14 2020 (a sort of extended extended support if you will), but the cost incurred by them will quickly ramp up. Starting at around £20 per device in the first year, rising to around £80 per device by the third, this is a costly alternative to simply upgrading to Windows 10 (especially if you are a large organisation).

 

When one door closes, a window opens…

End of life can sound intimidating, but this is actually a great opportunity to take advantage of everything Microsoft has to offer. Microsoft’s vision of the future focuses on ensuring that all their products (and a lot of third-party products to be fair) work seamlessly together – and Windows 10 is a large part of realising that concept.

With Windows as a Service to keep you up-to-date with the latest features and security patches, now is the ideal time to explore what further benefits you could receive by leaving Windows 7 behind and embracing the operating system powering truly modern workplaces.

If you have concerns or worries about navigating an upgrade to Windows 10, get in touch with us and we’ll help you put together an implementation plan.

Alternatively, explore how Microsoft is using their integrating strategy to transform the workplace with Microsoft 365.

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Author
Mathew Richards
Head of Mobility & Security
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