Windows 7 is installed on 43% of all computers, despite it being in its final year of life. If your business is using computers with Windows 7, Server 2008, or Office 2010, here is what you need to consider.
Many companies have not upgraded their computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The reasons why vary. For example, some businesses have not moved to Windows 10 because it is incompatible with their existing business apps or processes. Others have not switched because their existing hardware will not support Windows 10. While these are legitimate reasons for not upgrading, there is a new factor that needs to be considered: Windows 7’s end is near.
On January 14, 2020, all support for Windows 7 ends. Using Windows 7 after this date can be risky because Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates or product support. If the computers in your company are still running this operating system software, here is what you need to consider.
No Security Updates or Patches
After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide updates and patches to fix newly discovered security vulnerabilities in Windows 7. Similarly, it will no longer provide updates and patches to the popular Server OS, Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Microsoft Office 2010 Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, etc.).
This means that your computers will not be protected against cyberattacks exploiting newly discovered security vulnerabilities. As a result, your business will be at greater risk of data breaches, ransomware, and other types of cybercrime. To make matters worse, hackers often keep track of when vendors stop supporting popular apps. They then launch new cyberattacks that target those apps once the support has ended.
There is another less-obvious risk associated with using unpatched software. Since you cannot protect your Windows 7 computers from new cyberattacks, your company might not be compliant with regulations that govern the protection of sensitive data (HIPAA, SOX, FINRA). Noncompliance can result in penalties, higher costs, and even lost business.
No Product Support
Microsoft will no longer support computers running these versions of Windows/Office. This means that Microsoft will no longer answer any technical questions or help troubleshoot any problems. The only Microsoft resources that will be available are articles, webcasts, and other free online content that the company has posted about the software in the past. Third party software and hardware vendors closely follow suit. If MS can’t support it, then neither will they.
January 14, 2020, is approaching fast. It is a good idea to start planning now instead of waiting to the last minute. Here are your main options if your business is still running Windows 7:
- Continue to use the version of Windows and Office you have now without any security updates or support. Your systems will not suddenly stop working after January 14, 2020. The apps will still work, so you can keep using them. However, doing so leaves your business at greater risk of cyberattacks.
- Purchase Extended Security Updates. In September 2018, Microsoft announced that it will offer Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 through January 2023. The Extended Security Updates will be sold on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. These updates will be available for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers that have volume licensing agreements. This is different than if you purchased a computer with Windows 7 installed by the manufacturer
- Upgrade to Windows 10. By moving to Windows 10, you will have free security updates, feature updates, and product support. If you subscribe to Microsoft 365 Business and your computers are running Windows 7 Professional, you can upgrade at no additional cost. Some systems that shipped with Windows 7 also have upgrade rights to Windows 10.
- Replace your computer system. If your computer is over 3 years old (5 years for servers), we recommend your system be replaced. There has been a lot of improvements in hardware over the last 3 years. You’ll have a faster, more reliable system if you do.
We can help you make the best choice for your business based on its needs and help you carry out that decision.