Is your business using Windows 7? Hopefully not. But according to data by Netmarketshare, Windows 7 still accounts for a concerning 27 percent or approximately 400 million desktops or laptops. It’s a concerning figure given that the deadline for extended support is less than 2 months away, leaving businesses, their employees and data susceptible to the unknown security vulnerabilities that may arise.
The Finer Details
First, let’s go over what extended end of support means. Basically, Microsoft will no longer update, fix, or patch Windows 7 after January 14th unless you pay or upgrade your licenses to E5. So, whether or not you upgrade, you’ll need to pay for either special patches or a new operating system (Windows 10).
Mainstream support, which included free incident support, security updates, and a feature to request non-security updates, stopped on January 13th, 2015.
Office 365 ProPlus will also lose support on the same day as Windows 7. If your company is paying for extended security updates (ESUs), it will last for three years after the payment date. Other Microsoft products losing support on January 14th, 2020 include Windows 7 for Embedded Systems (not Windows Embedded Standard 7), Exchange Server 2010, and Windows Server 2008/R2.
Microsoft’s advice? Don’t just migrate to Windows 10; make the big switch to Microsoft 365, which is a bundle of Windows 10, Office 365, and EMS (Enterprise Mobility + Security suite). The company will help you with evaluation, testing, configuring, and deploying Windows 10 to your organization’s devices.
Beyond January 2020
If you decide to stick with Windows 7 past January 14th, you’ll have a few options.
First, Microsoft will offer ESUs on a per-device plan that lasts until January 2023. Microsoft will also increase the per-device fee annually. That can mean millions of dollars a year for enterprises with 10,000 or more licenses.
Second, if you’re interested in buying the Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service to virtualize Windows 7 and the other applications reaching end-of-extended-support, you’ll get free ESUs that last until 2023. There is no pricing information or public preview of WVD right now.
If you’re thinking of a cheaper interim upgrade to Windows 8.1, think again: 8.1’s extended support ends on January 10th, 2023, and mainstream support ended on January 9th, 2018. It doesn’t buy your organization much time, and you might find the time spent testing and upgrading to Windows 8.1 would be more worthwhile with Windows 10.
Upgrading really is the best course of action according to security consultant Rob VandenBrink: “The difference I’m seeing between companies that run Windows 10 / Office 2016, and companies that run Windows 7 and older versions of office is a significant difference in rates of malware infection.”
According to Computer Weekly, forward-looking organizations around the world started preparing for the January 2020 end of support date years ago. The wave of adoption began in the U.S. in 2016 and spread across Western Europe in 2018. It’s highly likely that many of your competitors have already upgraded or have a plan in place to upgrade.
Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will make your operating system environment more dynamic with several key benefits: system and software deployments are much easier and automated; testing applications is less painful with improved analytics and an upgrade readiness feature; mobile and desktop devices will be easier to manage; and deploying applications using ring-based deployment will take your production and development environments to the next level.