All good operating systems must come to an end, and the time is nearly here for the popular Windows 7. It remained the most used Window operating system (OS) for many years, far out numbering Windows 8.1 and, until recently, Windows 10 in number of installations.
But as it’s fast approaching its end of life (EOL) date, the statistics show the writing on the wall, with Windows 10 finally surpassing Windows 7 in popularity about a year before all support for the older OS ends.
The Microsoft lifecycle for Windows 7 comes to a close on January 14, 2020, when all support officially stops, including those vital security updates, and updates of any kind.
This date has been on our calendar for years at Unity IT, as we help clients prepare so their networks and computers stay protected. As part of our managed IT services for companies in Fresno, Clovis, Madera, and Visalia we keep them aware of any vital technology dates that they need to prepare for… and the EOL for Windows 7 is a big one.
But there is still time to prepare so your business isn’t left vulnerable with an operating system running that’s no longer supported. Read on for steps you can take between now and the end of the year to ensure you’re fully ready before January 2020 comes around.
How Does the Microsoft Lifecycle Work?
All Microsoft products adhere to a lifecycle which runs approximately 10 years. There are two key dates in a lifecycle, which are:
End of mainstream support
End of extended support
Windows 7 reached the end of mainstream support on January 13, 2015, yet it still remained popular for years. This is because end of mainstream support doesn’t impact the availability of security patches and updates and there is still paid incident support for the operating system.
However, when extended support ends, it’s ending all security and other support, beyond the help articles you can find in Microsoft’s knowledgebase. So, if your business is still running Windows 7 on any computers once EOL is here, you’re leaving a big gap in your IT security and just inviting a breach.
Companies should upgrade from Windows 7 before January 14, 2020 to:
Ensure their networks and devices are properly secure
Ensure they can get the support they need for any OS issues
Ensure new applications or updates are compatible with their computers
Ensure newer peripherals, like printers, cameras, are fully supported by their OS
Steps to Help Your Business Get Ready for Windows 7 EOL
How important are those security patches and updates?
The large data breach at Equifax in 2017 that exposed the personal data of 143 million people was due to an exploited vulnerability in a web-application. A patch that would’ve stopped the hack had been available for two months prior to the breach but was never applied.
Running an operating system that’s no longer supported with security patches, isn’t an option if you want to avoid a data breach.
Here are the steps your business can take to stay safe and prepare well before that looming end of life date arrives.
Create a List of Computers Running Windows 7
Start by identifying any computers or laptops at your organization that are still using Windows 7, this will give you an idea of how many devices you’ll either need to replace or upgrade.
Identify Which Computers Can be Upgraded to Windows 10
Older computers might not meet the minimum requirements to upgrade to Windows 10, so you’ll want to identify which ones can and which ones will need to be replaced. If you purchase a new computer, it should have Windows 10 already installed.
Choose Which Computers are Worth Upgrading
Just because a computer can upgrade to Windows 10, doesn’t mean that it should. If you’ve got a desktop or laptop that barely meets the requirements or is nearly out of diskspace, you may just want to ensure everything is backed up properly, then upgrade to a newer computer.
Create a Windows 10 Upgrade Timeline & Budget
Now that you’ve identified which computers you want to replace and which you want to keep and upgrade to Windows 10, create a timeline and budget accordingly to ensure no systems are running Window 7 by 1/14/20.
The earlier you start, the more months you’ll have to spread out the costs of the replacement computers and OS upgrades throughout 2019.
Schedule Windows 10 Training for Employees
Windows 10 is a fairly major update that offers a lot of productivity-enhancing tools for users. Make sure your team can hit the ground running by scheduling training on Windows 10 ahead of the upgrades so they’ll be completely familiar with the new operating system.
Need Help with Windows 10 Upgrades and Training?
If you’ve got your hands full and need help with a strategic plan to ensure you’re ready for the EOL of Windows 7, Unity IT will be happy to help. We can identify your options for upgrades, which devices need to be replaced, and help you roll out a budget-friendly plan.
Contact us today to get started (that EOL date will be here before you know it!). Call 559-297-1007 or request a free consultation online.