You’ve probably heard talk about the Windows 7 operating system going ‘end of life’, but what does this really mean and how does it affect you and your business?
Microsoft launched their incredibly popular Windows 7 operating system back in late 2009. Since then, the tech giant have gone on to release Windows 8 and Windows 10, in 2012 and 2015 respectively.
Windows 7 is now in its final year of extended support, which will come to an end on 14th January 2020.
Research published by CRN UK found that 43% of businesses in the UK and US were still running Windows 7. Source
What does going ‘end of life’ mean?
‘End of life’ is the date a company chooses to end support for a piece of software or application that they make. As of January 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, bug fixes or any support, paid or otherwise, for its Windows 7 operating system.
Why is Windows 7 going ‘end of life’?
Microsoft have released two newer versions of their operating system since Windows 7 came out. In commercial terms, they have to stop putting investment into old products in the interest of promoting sales of their new ones(s). In technological terms, 10 years is a very long time, hardware has improved dramatically, software has greater requirements and user expectation has changed. Therefore Microsoft must build in lifecycles for their products to warn users when it’s time to move on.
Can I still use Windows 7?
The short answer is yes. ‘End of life’ doesn’t mean your operating system will cease to work, it will simply cease to be supported. Everything will carry on working just as it did before.
Should I still use Windows 7?
This is a far better question. Whilst you absolutely can continue to use Windows 7, think very carefully about whether or not you should. We, and every other reputable IT company, would strongly encourage you against this approach.
Do you remember the 2017 WannaCry Ransomware epidemic which massively hit the NHS? The report that followed this breach went on to blame devices with out of date software. While many of these devices ran the still supported Windows 7, the teams responsible for managing them hadn’t kept up with the latest updates. Where hackers discovered vulnerabilities in unpatched versions of the OS, they devised ways to attack and infiltrate networks through these holes.
Next year there will be no leeway for human error to play a part; there will be no more updates coming to need to stay on top of. Attackers will have free rein to trawl the system looking for holes to pick at in the knowledge that no one is going to come along with a patch to hinder their exploits. Find out more about patching in our blog post on ‘What is Patch Management’. This leaves your network and your data incredibly vulnerable.
What can I do to prepare for Windows 7 going ‘end of life’?
After reading the above, hopefully you’ve concluded you need to make a few changes. Your next move is to look into Windows 10 – the latest operating system. Windows 10 is described as ‘the last version of Windows ever’; Windows from now on will be ‘as a service’. Instead of big releases there will be regular improvements and updates downloaded from the cloud.
If you need to do an enterprise upgrade for multiple users, you’re probably best off enlisting the help of an IT solutions provider. New operating systems can throw up compatibility issues with existing software and devices, so having a professional to navigate through the minefield can save a lot of wasted hours.
What can I expect from Windows 10?
As you’d expect, Windows 10 comes with a number of improvements over Windows 7, aside from simply the security aspect. The changes start with the new overall design of flat, colourful squares to easily identify each icon. Windows 10 introduces Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant first seen on Windows phones. As well as being a useful device and web search tool, Cortana will keep track of all your events and dates. Microsoft’s new, modern, browser, Edge, is only available on Windows 10. The Windows Store is also available on Windows 10, where users can download apps for their desktop, similarly to how they would a smartphone.
M-Tech have a great deal of experience in migrating businesses and schools onto the latest Windows operating system. We’ve been working with companies for years now, ensuring a smooth transition and delivering the benefits of the latest Microsoft products. Every year, new features are added to Windows, making it easier for users and better for business.
Talk to us about future-proofing your business today.