Unfortunately, there comes a time when all good operating systems must come to and end, and that time is fast approaching for Windows 7. The OS loses extended support (i.e. is at “end of life”) on January 14, 2020.
So, what does EOL mean for an operating system? It means that those vital security patches are ended and for the most part, the OS is retired. It also means that any businesses running Windows 7 on their computers should upgrade before the end of life date arrives this January.
As much as you may like Windows 7, if you don’t upgrade, you end up leaving your business exposed and your systems vulnerable to a data breach or virus infection.
Windows Lifecycle Overview
Each Windows product has a preset lifecycle, which generally runs about 10 years. Within that lifespan, after about 5 years, you lose the ability to request new features (end of mainstream support) and then ultimately all feature and vital security updates stop (end of extended support) as Microsoft puts all their efforts behind the new OS, which is Windows 10, in this case.
Windows 7’s lifecycle looks like this:
- Jul. 22, 2009: Windows 7 launch
- Jan. 13, 2015: End of Mainstream Support
- Jan. 14, 2020: End of Extended Support
What happens if you keep using an OS after it’s EOL date?
You leave your company at risk, because any found vulnerabilities in the operating system will be no longer patched, so hackers can have a field day. They often look forward to the EOL for a Windows product.
In the case of Windows 7, Microsoft is offering a paid extended critical support option for a limited time past January, but it won’t be a good option for most small or midsized businesses.
Businesses that are running out-of-date operating systems are 3x more likely to suffer a data breach.
You have just a few months before losing that vital security patch support for Windows 7. Here are the things you need to do now to prepare your business.
Prepare for an Upgrade to Windows 10 Now
Running an operating system that’s out of date on any of your business devices is asking for trouble. Some of the many scenarios that could happen are:
- Your network is breached
- Your devices get infected with malware
- You no longer meet compliance with HIPAA and other data privacy standards
- New software and hardware are no longer compatible with your OS
Luckily, it’s not too late to plan for an upgrade to Windows 10, which is very well received and currently has over 52% of the global OS market share. Here are the steps to take now to protect your company’s data security.
Create a List of All Windows 7 Devices
Your first step is to identify all the computers in your office that are running Windows 7, as well as any used remotely by employees for work that use the older OS.
At the same time, if you don’t have a full equipment inventory already, you can take this opportunity to create one. It’s good business practice and will be vital in the case of an insurance claim for any reason.
Once you know how many devices you’re dealing with, you can take the next step in preparing for an upgrade.
Divide Your List into “Replace” or “Upgrade”
If a computer workstation or laptop is still in good shape and can support productive work, then you’ll want to upgrade. If not, you’ll want to replace it with a newer PC. Most new PCs will already come with Windows 10 installed.
What yardstick should you use to decide between upgrade or replace? The Windows 10 operating system requirements are a good one. Any PC not meeting the standards below should be replaced:
- Should Have the Latest OS: Either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 800 x 600
Timeline & Budget Your Replacements & Upgrades
You only have a short time to budget out your transition to Windows 10, but you can still spread the costs out over a several weeks instead of having them hit all in a single month.
Price out Windows 10 software for those devices being upgraded, replacement machines for those that can’t, and help with data migration and PC setup that you’ll need to get the new devices up and running.
Be sure to target your timeline to have all PCs in your office running Windows 10 by the January 14, 2020 deadline.
Set Up Staff Training
Avoid a dip in productivity as employees are transitioning to the new OS by offering training to help them up the learning curve. Windows 10 is designed to be very user friendly, but there will be user interface differences that they’ll need to learn.
There will also be features in Windows 10, like Cortana support, that can be a game changer for them when it comes to daily efficiency and productivity.
Don’t Forget to Wipe Old Devices
For any of those PCs that you’re replacing, before you store or dispose of them, make sure they’re wiped of any data. Leaving company data on an old computer can lead to compromised information later and breach vulnerability should that PC ever be sold, given away, or unknowingly plugged in and connected to your network again in the future.
Take the Stress Out of Migrations & Upgrades
Doing a major operating system upgrade doesn’t have to take over your office, C Solutions can handle upgrades and data migrations for you seamlessly. No stress, no struggle, no work interruptions!
Reach out to us today to discuss your technology and upgrade needs. Our experts are here for you at 407-536-8381 or online.