It may be hard to believe, but Windows 7 is now 10 years old. In computer years, that’s ancient, which is why Microsoft will stop supporting the OS on January 14, 2020.
This means that if you have computers running Windows 7 in your business, you will need to take action before the end of support date. To help you understand the implications of this change for your business, and to jumpstart your planning, here’s a list of frequently asked questions about the end of support for Windows 7.
What does “End of Support” Mean, and How Does it Affect My Business?
“End of Support” (often abbreviated as “EOS”) is a term technology vendors use to designate when they will stop providing technical support and, even more importantly, security patches and updates for a product.
For Windows 7, this means that after January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer release critical security updates that address vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit to steal your data or compromise your systems. So, if your business continues to use Windows 7 after that date, your technology could be at high risk for a security breach, which could prove catastrophically costly for your business.
What makes the risk of cyber attack so high after support ends for an operating system is not just that vulnerabilities are no longer being fixed; it’s the fact that cyber criminals know that support has ended. Criminals see an opportunity in a user base with an unsupported operating system, and are likely to focus their efforts exploiting it. In other words, continuing to use Windows 7 after the end of support would not only make your PCs vulnerable; it would also make them a target.
I’m Using Windows 7 PCs in My Business. What Should I Do?
In most cases, businesses currently running Windows 7 should plan to upgrade to Windows 10, the latest version of the operating system. While the upgrade will involve a cost, the good news is that Windows 10 is a very mature operating system with modern features your employees may find helpful. Plus, Microsoft has said that Windows 10 is the “last” version of Windows. While it’s unclear what this will mean in the very long term, it at least means that Microsoft, like Apple, has moved away from the disruptive paid upgrade model to a more incremental update model. So once you buy in to Windows 10, you will enjoy continuous free updates without having to worry about upgrading to the latest version every few years.
Does This Mean I’ll Have to Replace My Windows 7 PCs?
The system requirements for upgrading to Windows 10 are such that it should be able to run on most modern PCs, so it’s likely that you will be able to upgrade your existing PCs.
However, it might actually be more cost effective, in the long run, to go ahead and purchase new hardware as well. PCs that came with Windows 7 pre-loaded on them are likely reaching the end of their lifecycle at this point. So, even if you opted just to pay to upgrade the operating system now, it’s likely that you’ll still need to upgrade the hardware within the next year or two. It might be more cost effective, then, to buy the new hardware now, as it will come with Windows 10 pre-loaded, and you will only have to pay for the license once.
Regardless, you should formulate an upgrade and/or replacement strategy with the help of a technology expert. If you’re an Affinity client, your vCIO has you covered.
What Should I Consider Before Upgrading to Windows 10?
While upgrading to Windows 10 will be necessary to maintain your business’s security, it’s important to consider how the upgrade will impact your operations before moving forward with it. That way, you can formulate a rollout strategy that will minimize business impact.
When implementing operating system upgrades, we encourage businesses to consider two key variables. The first is the learning curve that employees will face in switching to the new operating system. Luckily, Windows 10 is fairly intuitive to use for most users. While some employees will need some extra time to adjust to the switch, the overall impact should be relatively minor.
The more important variable in this case is software. Your business uses a number of software applications that support your key workflows, and it’s important to know whether these applications will support a move to Windows 10. Since Windows 10 has been around since 2015, it’s likely that most of your applications will support the change without major issues. However, it’s possible that, somewhere within your workflow, your business may be relying on a legacy application that does not support Windows 10. It’s important to identify these applications and make a plan for upgrading them before you roll out Windows 10, so that key processes don’t come grinding to a halt.
If you are an Affinity client, rest assured that your vCIO can help you identify any legacy apps and formulate a plan around upgrading that minimizes the impact to your workflow.
What If I Have a Critical Application That Requires Windows 7?
In rare cases, businesses may face the dilemma of relying heavily on an application that does not support a move to Windows 10. Even in these cases, the long-term viability of their business systems will require an upgrade strategy to a newer application that does support modern operating systems. Still, if such an upgrade cannot be made before January 14, 2020, Microsoft will be selling extended support for Windows 7. To determine if extended support is the right option for your business, we strongly recommend talking with a technology expert, such as one of Affinity’s vCIOs.
Need Help With a Windows 10 Upgrade Strategy?
If you’re business has PCs running Windows 7, it’s imperative that you work with technology experts to formulate a strategy for a smooth upgrade. To learn more about how Affinity’s vCIOs can help develop such a strategy for your business, contact us today.