Windows 7 has lived a long life (since 2009). Like Windows XP before it, it’s been a solid, stable, and popular operating system. However, it needs to be put out to pasture. Mainstream support ended for it back in 2015, and extended support will end a bit over a year from now (January 2020) when Windows 7 reaches end-of-life. You should plan accordingly.
What does end of life mean? End of Life means that Microsoft will no longer release any security updates or patches, and security flaws that hackers find will not be fixed. Even with security software installed, your computer will be vulnerable.
What does this all mean to my business? If you still have Windows 7-powered computers at your office, you need to start making plans to replace them and budget accordingly. While those systems will continue to work after Windows 7 reaches end of life, you’re putting you and your business data at risk if you continue to use them.
What about my business software? Windows 10 has been around for quite a while, and many main-line business apps have been running fine on it for quite a while (the new versions of all the various Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, and Intuit apps, for example, all work fine). But you should check with your crucial business application vendors to confirm compatibility as some specialized applications may need to be upgraded before you can commit.
What if I fall under a regulated industry (HIPAA, PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, etc.)? If you fall under any of these regulations, you need to replace these old Windows 7 machines. Up-to-date patching is generally a requirement for these regulations and Windows 7 will no longer be receiving security updates, potentially putting you out of compliance.
What does Weston recommend? The upgrade path from Windows 7 to 10 wasn’t nearly as painful as the upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. The interface takes a bit to get used to, but it’s stable and works well (Windows 8 should be avoided, as Vista should have been post-Windows XP). We also don’t recommend upgrading current hardware to a new OS unless it’s a fairly new machine with a downgraded license. We generally recommend replacing the hardware entirely. Typically, while the cost of the upgrade software (if you can find it) appears to be cheaper than replacing the hardware, you’ll end up spending a great deal more time getting the upgrade to work properly versus getting a new system that is built to run a new operating system. Starting from scratch and just moving the data you need is going to be a more pleasant experience in the long run.
Windows 10 (as it stands) will reach end-of-life 7 years from now (a date that is subject to be pushed out further). We recommend any new computer you buy is running Windows 10 and that you plan and budget this next year to replace any existing Windows 7 machines in your environment. Contact us today and we can assist with that budgeting process.