Windows 7 is Nearing the End of its Life, and It’s Time to Say Goodbye
The Day of Microsoft Windows 7 Are Numbered
Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January of 2015, putting the very popular operating system into what’s known as the “extended support” phase. During the extended support phase, Microsoft releases security patches and bug fixes but doesn’t add any new features or functionality to the Windows 7 operating system.
Once this extended support phase ends on January 14th, 2020, Windows 7 will officially be unsupported by Microsoft, having reached what’s known as End of Support. That means users can no longer rely on Microsoft to patch any new vulnerabilities or flaws that are discovered in Windows 7. To stay fully supported, businesses and organizations must upgrade to Windows 10 before that January 14th deadline arrives.
The switch to Windows 10 may be a long and difficult transition. Windows 7 is a very popular operating system that runs on over 40% of all the PCs worldwide. Why are so many businesses still running Windows 7? In many cases the answer is complacency. Operating system migration can be difficult and time consuming, and businesses that are comfortable with the status quo are often resistant to spend so much time on a project that has little apparent benefit. Other businesses may want to make the change but don’t know where to begin.
While not everyone will make the upgrade in time for the 2020 deadline, we strongly recommend that businesses still running Windows 7 begin to plan their migration to Windows 10 now to avoid headaches down the road. Running an unsupported operating system can put your entire business at risk of encountering some serious, potentially debilitating problems. Some of those issues include:
Running an unsupported operating system is like leaving the front door of your business wide open after you’ve gone home for the day. It creates massive system vulnerabilities that make intrusion by ransomware or hackers much easier than they would otherwise be. The WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled over 200,000 computers in 150 countries, for example, was able to spread successfully because of unsupported operating systems such as Windows XP.
Problems with security are doubly important in regulated industries — like finance and healthcare — where the law may require organizations take procedures to safeguard data or privacy. In these security-conscious industries, running an out-of-date operating system may represent a breach of a company’s obligation to their clients.
Compatibility Problems and Service Interruptions
Networks running unsupported operating systems may start to demonstrate compatibility issues, especially as they communicate and interwork with newer applications. This can take the form of malfunctioning software, system crashes, data loss, or other forms of instability.The compatibility issues related to an out-of-date operating system can become more serious the larger your network infrastructure. If newly added hardware is incompatible with the old or unsupported operating system, identifying problem and fixing it throughout the organization could require significant time, seriously disrupting your organization’s efficiency.
Migrating to Windows 10 – Here Are Some Tips on How to Do It Right
Windows 10 migration may present challenges, especially for companies that lack the internal IT resources or trusted technology partner to help them through the process. That’s because there’s rarely a standard, one-size-fits-all solution for migrating from one operating system to another. Some devices may be eligible for an “in-place” migration that preserves all user data, applications, and settings. Other devices may require a more hands-on “wipe-and-load” approach. Most organizations will require a mix of these migration paths to address each user’s individual needs, and make the process as fast and painless as possible.
Below are some of the basic guidelines we can recommend all businesses follow during their migration from Windows 7.
Plan Carefully for Your Migration
It’s good to start with a frank evaluation of your goals for the migration to Windows 10. What kind of timeline can you expect for the entire process? What are some of the difficulties that you may encounter along the way, such as backing up user data? Do you have any proprietary or line-of-business applications that may complicate your migration? You’ll want to address this kind of concern early on to get a clear picture of what migration will entail.
Start Small and Stay Aware of Needed Infrastructure Updates
You can’t upgrade all your PCs at one time without crippling your infrastructure. Instead, it’s best to start with a small group of computers and use them as a test bed for the new operating system. If you find any problems during the migration, they’ll only affect a portion of your network and will be easier to fix. After this small group of computers has been successfully upgraded, you can determine a strategy for moving forward.
Deploy and App Test
Some organizations require the use of tens, even hundreds of software applications to run their business properly. When migrating to Windows 10, you should know which applications will need to be updated along with the operating system and perform thorough testing for all software after Windows 10 has been installed to make sure that they continue to function correctly. Oftentimes, specialized software can be used to speed this testing process and ensure reliable results.
For Complex Migrations, Seek Outside Assistance
If they have the time, resources, and support to do so, a well-staffed IT department is often completely capable of migrating an organization from Windows 7 to Windows 10 without much difficulty. This is especially true in companies with a small number of PCs that need migrated.
In other cases, where there’s a lack of internal IT talent or the IT staff is already burdened by other tasks, it may make sense to enlist the help of an expert to ensure your migration from Windows 7 goes smoothly. This is especially true when upgrading mission-critical systems or for complex migration scenarios that require specialized knowledge. In these delicate situations, a poorly executed migration can result in serious network downtime, lost productivity, and lost revenue. To avoid these problems it’s best to find a partner with experience managing complex migrations who can ensure the upgrade process causes as little service disruption as possible.
Astute Technology Management has been helping SMBs in central Ohio manage their technology needs for over 20 years. If you need help upgrading your Windows 7 systems in preparation for the January 14th deadline, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you have. We’re always happy to help businesses in our community operate with greater confidence and security.