Just 70 days left until Windows 7 is retired. Here’s what you need to know

After serving businesses for almost a decade, Windows 7 is finally coming to an end.

On January 14, Microsoft will finally cease supporting the aging operating system (OS) as it focuses its efforts on the continued development of Windows 10 and other products and services. After this point, there will be no more updates, including critical security patches. Patches are ordinarily released if and when new vulnerabilities are found, which can happen quite often, especially with complex software such as operating systems. That’s why it’s essential to use products that are still supported.

You’ll still be able to run Windows 7 but doing so puts your business at risk. This has happened many times, most recently when major ransomware strains like WannaCry targeted computers running the long-obsolete Windows XP in 2017.

This begs the very important question, what should existing users do next?

Upgrade to a supported OS

Though there are plenty of other OSs to choose from, switching OSs will require a lot of work. For example, if you want to run macOS, you’ll need to replace all computers with Apple’s proprietary systems. But this can be an expensive option considering that you’ll have to purchase Mac computers and licenses for employees.

Another alternative is Linux, the world’s most popular open-source freeware OS. However, while it will run on any machine capable of running Windows, you’ll need to replace all your software and retrain your employees in using the new operating environment. Keep in mind that Linux is typically designed for tech-savvy users, so the training process may take longer than expected.

For most organizations, the obvious solution is to upgrade to Windows 10. Not only is the OS current, but it has also been dubbed the “last” version of Windows, which means you’ll never need to pay for an upgrade again. Once you have a Windows 10 license, you’re entitled to free security and feature updates indefinitely, and you can also migrate the license over to a new computer.

Windows 10 is delivered as a service, which also means it’s updated and supported by native security features. Updates are automatic and mandatory, and to make things easier, Microsoft partners provide cost-effective installation services to help you make the move.

While most upgrades can be taken care of in place, without losing all your programs and documents, there are still risks. You should still always keep a backup of your data and roll out any major upgrade one group at a time to minimize disruption to your business.

What to do if you need more time

Microsoft also understands that it’s not always easy to replace an OS, especially in the case of businesses with hundreds of machines. Fortunately, there is a stopgap for Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise users who cannot manage the upgrade in time.

Microsoft recently announced the launch of its Extended Security Updates (ESU) program, which will be available for purchase from December 1, 2019. These updates will be provided for a further three years, but they won’t come cheap. Prices start at $25 per device for the first year, increasing to $100 per device for the third and final year. The prices are double for Professional edition users. It’s meant as a last resort, but your ultimate goal should be to upgrade as soon as possible.

Are you worried about Windows 7 end of support? Umbrella Managed Systems can help you make the move to Windows 10 with expert guidance that minimizes disruption. Call us now to make sure your business has fully upgraded well before the Windows 7 end-of-life date.

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