Windows 7 Support Ends January 14, 2020:
Here’s What to Do Now
Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 on January 14, 2020. Although they can still be used after that date, end of support means three essential services from Microsoft will stop: technical support, updates, and security fixes.
The lack of security fixes, in particular, will become a serious problem for the organizations still using these operating systems. Current vulnerabilities will continue to exist, and new ones are likely to be uncovered after January 14, 2020. However, Microsoft will no longer provide patches to fix them for free.
While organizations still using these operating systems can purchase up to three years of Extended Security Updates, this option is only a temporary solution. Additionally, Extended Security Updates will only provide critical security updates. Therefore, it’s imperative that these organizations begin the process of reviewing their systems for upgrading. Here are a couple steps to get the process rolling.
Step 1: Assess Software and Hardware
For computers using Windows 7, upgrading to Windows 10 is the most logical path. However, not all machines can be upgraded to Windows 10. Some may need hardware upgrades as well. Therefore, the first step is to determine whether the computer is compatible with Windows 10.
Microsoft provides a comprehensive overview of the minimum requirements for Windows 10, but the most direct test is to run the Windows 10 installer on legacy computers. The installer program will report any unsupported hardware found on the computer before it installs Windows 10. If the minimum requirements aren’t met, it’ll also report this before continuing. Technical staff can quickly document these issues and then cancel the installation process.
If a computer is compatible with Windows 10, has enough warranty and hardware life left to offset the upgrade cost and risk, and has good enough specs to run it adequately, the next step is to assess the software and performance requirements. Upgrading to Windows 10 may impact the computer’s performance negatively, requiring hardware upgrades like additional RAM. More importantly, software essential to the computer’s function may not be compatible with Windows 10 and may need replacing. These enhancements will add to the labor and financial costs of upgrading an older computer to a new OS, so they should be documented.
Step 2: Develop an Upgrade Plan
Once all computers have been reviewed for general suitability and assessed for compatibility, it’s time to create an upgrade plan. When drawing up an upgrade plan, it’s important to balance several considerations in addition to the financial cost of upgrading to Windows 10:
- Computer performance
- Software compatibility
- Computer longevity
- The organization’s overall technology strategy
It’s also important to consider the future costs of an upgrade plan as well as the immediate cost of upgrades. It may cost less to minimally upgrade legacy computers in the short-term, but this option defers the future cost of replacing aging equipment. On the other hand, if older computers have service life remaining, it may make sense to get that value from them before replacing them.
Here are the advantages of purchasing new computers with Windows 10 pre-installed:
- Less technical support needed
- Much lower risk of post migration issues which can cause unexpected downtime
- The latest computer hardware is included meaning more productive team members
- Includes a computer hardware warranty to protect the investment for the years to come
The savings of labor can be significant compared to upgrading a large number of legacy computers with new hardware and software in addition to upgrading to Windows 10. In a business environment, it can be more efficient to simply replace older computers with machines that have Windows 10 and business software pre-installed. Legacy machines with hardware not designed for Windows 10 can also require more technical support.
The disadvantage of replacing older computers is the upfront cost, which may be significantly more than upgrading legacy Windows 7 machines.
The advantages of upgrading legacy computers to Windows 10 are:
- Lower upfront costs
- Preserves the value of past investments
The capital costs of replacing a large number of legacy computers can be significant, and it could be viewed as a waste of past investments to retire computers early. They may still have the performance and software support required to serve as computers if they were purchased within the last five years.
The main disadvantage of keeping older equipment that wasn’t built for Windows 10 is the additional costs of technical support and hardware upgrades. The added labor for supporting legacy computers combined with the eventual cost of replacing them in a couple years often outweighs the cost of replacing them now.
Beyond those costs, the overall technology strategy of an organization is another consideration. For example, if an organization wants to move away from desktops and replace them with laptops, there may be additional concerns to work out. Similarly, if the organization plans to move local server infrastructure to a cloud service like Microsoft Azure, the upgrade plan can become even more complex.
After an upgrade plan is created then it’s time to say goodbye to Windows 7 and hello to Window 10!
Windows 10 Migration Help
Organizations still using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 need to start planning right away to avoid running into issues after January 14, 2020. Migrating to Windows 10, purchasing Extended Security Updates, or moving to Microsoft Azure can be a daunting task. Outsource IT can help.
We can assess your infrastructure and computers to determine your most cost effective and efficient upgrade path, ensuring that all your organization’s needs are fulfilled. Contact Outsource IT an Outsource IT account manager for more information.