Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 in January 2020. For businesses still running the much-loved operating system (OS), this requires urgent attention.
Windows 10 could possibly be the last ever OS. We're now moving to a new era of constantly updated OSs—which will be continued indefinitely.
There’s no doubt that Windows 7 will go down as one of the best OSs in computing’s history. Windows 7 was originally released in October 2009—meaning that it will be over a decade old by the time Microsoft switches off support next year.
While many have made the switch to Windows 10, Windows 7 is still very widely used. Net Applications, a California web analytics company, reported that by the end of March 2019, 41.7% of all PCs running a Windows OS will still be using Windows 7. The chart below shows the Windows 7 and Windows 10 OS market share for desktop / laptop.
Data sourced from Net Marketshare
What does end of support mean?
'End of support' means that Microsoft will not be providing security updates or support for Windows 7 after January 14, 2020.
Microsoft actually ended ‘Mainstream Support’ for Windows 7 in January 2015 (Microsoft typically provides Mainstream Support for its OSs for five years). Mainstream Support includes new features and updates – as well as patches and security fixes. This means that since 2015, Windows 7 hasn’t received any new enhancements or features and considering how rapidly technology is evolving, means it is now outdated.
Once the period of Mainstream Support comes to an end, Microsoft products will usually enter an ‘Extended Support’ period where it is still updated with bug fixes and patched for security. This is the phase that Windows 7 is currently in—which will be ending in January 2020.
You can continue to use Windows 7 following its retirement, but the PCs will be highly vulnerable to security threats. This is not an acceptable approach for businesses and puts a serious weak link in your security.
Extended Security Updates
If your organisation is using Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise, you can buy yourself some more time. Extended Security Updates (ESUs) are available to purchase to protect on-premise servers and desktops. These ESUs will last for three years until January 2023.
While this will buy you a little more time, it simply delays the inevitable and also means that you miss out on the latest improves that Microsoft have been making since 2015, which are now in Windows 10.
Risks of using an unsupported OS
If you decide to continue using Windows 7 at the end of extended support, you will be leaving your business extremely vulnerable to malicious threats.
Because the OS will no longer receive security patches from Microsoft, hackers will be able to find vulnerabilities and exploit them freely. Given the number of PCs predicted to still be running off Windows 7 at the cut-off date and beyond, hackers are likely to see this as a golden opportunity to take advantage of.
Windows 10 – the last OS?
If your business is still running Windows 7, you’re quickly running out of time. We would highly recommend that you move to Windows 10 as soon as possible. You may need to consider upgrading your hardware, so it is worth checking the computer specifications and system requirements here.
Microsoft developer, Jerry Nixon famously referred to Windows 10 as “the last version of Windows”. This is due to the way in which Windows 10 is constantly being developed and updated; Microsoft currently releases major updates in the spring and autumn which are free. Each version of the updates is supported for 18 months. This means that by keeping pace with the updates, IT teams can use an OS with support, new features and new functionality continuing indefinitely.
Historically, as Microsoft released new versions of the Windows OS and the previous versions approached their end-of-support deadlines, IT teams would be tasked with migrating machines and users to the latest OS – which were often significant IT projects. For many IT departments, there will be a big collective sigh-of-relief that traditional OS migrations are likely to be a thing of the past with Windows 10’s continuous update schedule. Windows 10 will run and be updated and supported on a machine for the remaining life-span of that underlying hardware.
By making the move to Windows 10 you can start enjoying the benefits that come with being on the continuous conveyor belt of updates and feature releases – no longer having to worry about end of support deadlines. You can maintain control of the update schedule by delaying some updates where preferred.
When upgrading to Windows 10, businesses are finding that they have a great opportunity to review their IT strategies and licensing options. With the major shift to cloud computing and subscription services, now is a perfect time to take advantage and modernise your IT.
Our recommended approach is to move to Microsoft 365, which is where Microsoft are focussing the majority of their investment. Microsoft 365 is Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS (Enterprise, Mobility + Security) combined. With this, you can take advantage of the latest cutting-edge cloud technology to improve your security, provide a better user experience for employees and enable easier collaboration by allowing your employees to work from anywhere, anytime.
Remaining on Windows 7 is simply not an option for businesses, unless they decide to pay for the ESUs. This shouldn’t really be considered as an option unless your business has old applications which have compatibility issues with the more modern Windows 10. This will be a rare occurrence though, due to Microsoft making Windows 10 extremely compatible.
For businesses looking to pay for the ESUs in order to maintain business-as-usual, this is most likely to be a case of ‘kicking the can down the road’. There will come a time when you have no option but to upgrade to a modern OS—which will be January 2023. We would strongly encourage you to avoid procrastinating and to seize this opportunity to modernise your IT, dramatically improve your security and give your employees the best tools available so they can do their best work.
Get in touch
Get in touch for any questions around upgrading to Windows 10 or want to find out more about Microsoft 365. We’d be happy to help.
For more information on Microsoft 365, you can read our following articles: