Time’s almost up: On Jan. 14, 2020 – less than a year from now – Windows 7 End of Life begins. This means that Windows 7 will no longer be sold, supported by Microsoft, or updated. (Unless you’re willing to pay Microsoft $25 per device for the first year, $50 per device for the second year, and $100 per device for the third year. After three years, you’ll be back where you started – with an unsupported operating system.)
It’s estimated that nearly 40% of U.S. businesses are still using Windows 7, so lots of people will be making some big decisions in the next eight months.
How should you address Windows 7 End of Life? How will it impact your business if you’re still using Windows 7? There’s nothing stopping you from continuing to use Windows 7 after Jan. 14, 2020, but there are a few things you should consider before doing so …
- Your devices will be more susceptible to cybersecurity issues since Microsoft will no longer release security patches or updates to address vulnerabilities
- If you run into operating system problems, Microsoft customer service won’t be able to help you
- Programs like Chrome, Dropbox, and Microsoft Office will stop releasing updates for Windows 7
- Unsupported systems (like Windows 7 after Jan. 14, 2020) typically cause frustration and wasted time for employees trying to use them
The Impacts of Windows 7 on Cybersecurity
In our opinion, the cybersecurity issue is the most pressing. Without security patches and updates, using Windows 7 next year will make your entire organization more vulnerable to cyberattacks and technical bugs.
Right now, when a vulnerability is uncovered, Microsoft addresses the problem and issues updates and/or patches to protect against the new threat.
After Windows 7 End of Life on Jan. 14, 2020, however, Microsoft will no longer do so. This will make it easier for hackers to take their time exploring Windows 7 code, engineering viruses and malware designed to take advantage of existing vulnerabilities that they know won’t be addressed. Several organizations experienced this after choosing to use Windows XP after its End of Life; the end result for many was being impacted by cyberattacks like WannaCry ransomware.
The Good News About a Windows Migration
Upgrading to a new operating system may seem like a hassle. And it may take some time. But there’s good news that comes along with Windows 7 End of Life, too.
First, the Windows 7 End of Life date is still pretty far away. Migrating to a new operating system isn’t something that can – or should – be done in a few days. If you start planning now, you can begin your migration slowly and thoughtfully, without rushing. Starting early can ensure a steady, seamless migration with time built in to test applications and get employees used to the new operating system.
Second, there are some strong business benefits to migrating to Windows 10:
- Windows 10 layout and functionality are similar to Windows 7
- It offers several built-insecurity features (which Windows 7 doesn’t have) that will reduce your cybersecurity risks and improve password management
- It supports the use of hybrid tablets (which couldn’t be used with Windows 7)
- It has been available since July 2015, so many initial kinks have been worked out
There are other factors to keep in mind about migrating to Windows 10 as well:
- If you’re using older computers and devices, they may not meet minimum technical specifications (processor speed, RAM, etc.) for Windows 10
- If you’re running apps, macros, and models that work only with Windows 7, you’ll need a new plan to support them
- The most recent version of Microsoft Office (2019) is only compatible with Windows 10
- It’s vital to ensure that your business programs will work on Windows 10 (programs like Chrome and Microsoft Office will – but proprietary software or old applications may not)
- The process can eat up valuable hours of staff time and pose a few challenges along the way