Like all iterations before it, Windows 7 is quickly approaching its end of life—but although Microsoft is swiftly rolling out the new Windows 10, about 40% of businesses were still using Windows 7 as of 2018. While the true end-of-life date for Windows 7 isn’t until January 14, 2020, upgrading may be an involved process, so you should start well before you open yourself up to vulnerabilities.
What does “end of life” mean?
An end-of-life date is defined as the date after which a company will no longer be providing support, feature upgrades or security updates for a particular program, system, etc. While this does not mean Windows 7 will be disappearing altogether, any computer running it will be open to a host of vulnerabilities once the system stops being supported by Microsoft.
What’s at risk?
Without up-to-date security features and technical support, you run the risk of coming up against myriad problems, including:
- Cybersecurity/data security breach
- Extended downtime/loss of productivity
- Ransomware attacks
- Potential loss or leak of confidential data
- Large payouts
- PR challenges
- Loss of cybersecurity insurance coverage
- Exposure to the dark web
- Extensive out-of-pocket disaster recovery costs
Is there any way to extend my Windows 7 protection?
There is—but only if you’re a Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise user, in which case you have the option to purchase an Extended Security Update through 2023. For more information, check out Microsoft’s FAQs here.
Do I need to buy a new PC to upgrade?
The short answer is yes, and that’s an official recommendation by both Microsoft and MyITpros. While certain compatible PCs with full licenses using Windows 7 should be able to upgrade (see the list of requirements here), getting a new PC is the best course of action to ensure you’re able to fully support Windows 10 and access all the featured capabilities.
How do I start preparing my business?
As a company-wide PC upgrade will have a large technical and financial impact, the earlier you begin planning for the change, the better. There are a lot of questions to consider, such as:
- Will the applications used by my business be compatible with Windows 10?
- Will other hardware—especially things like older-model printers—work with Windows 10?
- Have we allotted the proper budget to PC upgrades?
- What is the plan to get users trained on Windows 10?
- What do we know about some of the so-called “invasive” privacy features of Windows 10, and what do we do about them?
For many business owners, tackling this project can seem overwhelming. Luckily, Microsoft has a robust resources library filled with information about both the upgrade and Windows 10 itself. We also recommend you start the conversation with your IT services provider (that is, if they haven’t already brought it up to you)! A managed services provider will be best equipped to help you think through, plan for and ultimately implement the transition, so feel free to reach out to MyITpros with any questions about how your business should approach Windows 7 end of life!