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Microsoft 7 End of Support

As you may well already know, Windows 7 reaches end of support on January 14th 2020. Despite the fact that the operating system has been in extended support since January 2015, many businesses are still running the operating system and will continue to do so beyond the deadline. In fact, just months ago in April 2019, 37% of all Windows PCs were still running Windows 7.

Over the five-year extended support period, Microsoft has released 29 patches to address security flaws, with as many as six critical updates coming in one month just last year. Beyond January 14th, unsupported PCs quickly become vulnerable to attacks that put your business at risk.

With so many companies still using Windows 7, cybercriminals will turn their attention to these unsecured machines. This is the exact vulnerability the NHS fell foul of in 2018, with unsupported Microsoft XP machines leading them to a WannaCry attack.

Windows 7 end of life risks after January 14th

The world of IT can be a serious place so we often try to avoid spreading a message of doom and gloom. Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, we try to look at what can. That said, it’s very important to understand the reality and magnitude of running operating systems that are out of support. Here are the risks of running Windows 7 in your business after January 14th…

  • GDPR: The fact that your employees are no longer getting security updates means that, as an IT team, you are failing to protect personal data by using an operating system after the end of life date. This means you cannot be GDPR compliant.
  • Industry-specific regulations: Depending on the space you work on, running an out of support OS may create industry-specific issues for your organisation.
  • PCI compliance: Windows Server 2008 is also out of support in January, putting businesses who handle credit cards at risk. Lack of compliance in this area might jeopardise working with the likes of Mastercard and VISA.
  • Incompatibility with newer software releases: As other software vendors release patches, updates and upgrades, old and unsupported software like Windows 7 will begin to create technical problems. For example, printers and other peripherals may stop working as drivers aren’t updated as required.

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Windows 7 End of Life Options

While the end of life risks won’t come as a surprise to IT professionals, it doesn’t make them any less important. Getting the basics right is a surefire way to keep your company safe, so if you’re a company still utilising Windows 7, here are your end of life options…

Paid Extended Support

Don’t worry, you’re not completely on your own after January 14th; companies can pay for extended support from Microsoft. Extended support starts at $25 per machine and will double each year. This support will end in three years (2023) so this only delays the inevitable, and it can quickly get expensive.

This approach should be adopted as an interim measure while you formulate and implement a migration plan away from Windows 7. Companies on Windows 10 on Enterprise E3 agreements get a 50% discount and Windows 10 Enterprise E5 agreements will receive the extended support for free.

Upgrade Hardware

Laptops and desktops sold within the past few years will have been shipped with Windows 10 as standard. With extended support incurring a per-machine cost, upgrading the hardware can be a simple way to mitigate potential security risks with a newer OS and improved performance. Again, this can get expensive but if it works with your refresh cycle, it will get you away from Windows 7 quickly.

Upgrade Software

If a hardware refresh is out of the question, consider a refresh of the OS on machines running 7. This can be a logistical challenge if you require staff to drop their devices off at a service desk for updates.

Consider Desktop as a Service

A strategy which is currently on the tipping point of widespread adoption, a virtual desktop infrastructure solution (VDI) allows you to run Windows VMs on each device, removing the IT challenge of managing individual endpoints and operating systems at scale. Don’t worry: VDI is likely a lot slicker than the last time you checked it out. More info on our high-performance Desktop as a Service platform can be found here.

Why Upgrade to Windows 10?

As touched upon already, security and compliance are the primary reasons to upgrade to Windows 10. If you are still using Windows 7 after the 14th of January you are exposing your company to a far greater risk of viruses and malware.

Windows 10 includes additional security features such as Windows Defender Antivirus to protect against malware and spyware across email, apps, browsing and the cloud along with a Find my Device service to lock and erase your Windows 10 device remotely or identify the location of a missing device.

Outside of this, your employees will enjoy a better user experience with Windows 10. They will immediately notice a faster start-up and will enjoy Microsoft Cortana’s voice commands. If you grant users rights to download software onto their machine they can access the App Store to add to the already enhanced built-in productivity apps.

The crux of it is, there are ways to get around end of support dates, however, if you’re faced with multiple operating systems and applications that are beginning to or already get phased out, it’s a risky place to be. If you’re interested in how to modernise your estate, migrate away from at-risk technologies or transform your infrastructure, talk to us today.

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