Is your business prepared for Windows 7 end of life?

August 16th, 2019
Is your business prepared for Windows 7 end of life?

After the debacle that was Windows 8, it’s no surprise that a lot of businesses have been slow to upgrade to Windows 10. Despite being almost 10 years old, Windows 7 retains a market share of around 35%, which makes it only marginally less popular than the current iteration of the world’s favorite operating system. However, that’s all about to change, since businesses still using Windows 7 only have until January 14, 2020 to upgrade.

All software products have a predefined life cycle. After a point, it becomes uneconomical for developers to continue supporting old products and instead focus their energies on supporting newer and more popular software. Windows is no exception.

While there’s nothing to physically stop you from continuing to use Windows 7 after it reaches the end of its support life cycle, doing so would be a very bad idea. Microsoft will stop releasing critical security updates for the platform, leaving devices that run it vulnerable to cyberattacks. To minimize these risks, current Windows 7 users are advised to opt for extended security updates.

What are Windows 7 extended security updates?

Following the backlash from current Windows 7 users, Microsoft released the Extended Security Update (ESU) program. ESU primarily caters to large enterprises that can feasibly upgrade their massive computer infrastructure in time. It also allows companies to run legacy applications past the end of support.

ESU provides critical security updates for up to three years, with the price increasing per year. It’s available only for Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise users who have volume licensing agreements with Microsoft. The cost begins at $25 per device for the first year, increasing to $100 in the third year. The rates are double for non-Enterprise users. Notably, these updates only include critical security fixes — there won’t be any feature updates.

It’s important to remember that the ESU program is not meant to be a long-term solution. Rather, it’s aimed toward organizations that still need to run legacy applications that aren’t supported by newer operating systems, as well as those that need more time to upgrade due to the complexities involved. In the end, it should only be considered a short-term fix because it can get very expensive for larger deployments.

What are the other options?

In most situations, upgrading to Windows 10 is the obvious choice. Windows 10 is delivered as a service, which means it’s always kept up to date with important performance and security updates. Moreover, Microsoft releases two major feature updates every year in an effort to constantly improve the operating system based on feedback from customers. It is, however, possible to defer or even skip these updates for a period.

If you don’t fancy upgrading to Windows 10, the second most popular option for PC is to use Linux, the world’s most popular open-source freeware operating system. There are also many Linux distributions to choose from, and their extensive customizability makes them a favorite for servers. However, for end-user workstations and laptops, Linux doesn’t provide an instantly familiar experience to most people, in which case, additional staff training might be necessary.

Another option, which is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace, is to go for MacOS instead. Although MacOS generally can’t run on the same hardware as Windows and other PC operating systems, you’ll also need to buy new devices. This option can be expensive, and there may also be interoperability issues since some Apple products may not sit well with the applications you rely on.

Are you worried about the looming Windows 7 end of life? Reach out to Integrated Technology Services today. We’ll discuss your upgrade options and design a detailed plan to ensure a seamless transition. We also provide round-the-clock support for a wide array of computer issues.