Despite being released almost a decade ago, Windows 7 remains the world’s second-most popular operating system (OS), with almost a third of the market share. Although Windows 10 finally usurped its position in January 2019, many business users have yet to upgrade. Unfortunately for them, they’re running out of time. Extended support for Windows 7 will expire on January 14, 2020, after which there’ll be no further updates for the dated software.
What are the risks of using unsupported software?
Virtually all software products have a predefined support life cycle. For complex OSs, these support life cycles are usually quite generous, but there comes a point when it’s no longer economical for developers to support outdated software at the cost of focusing on maintaining newer solutions.
The Windows 7 end of life means Microsoft will no longer develop critical security fixes for the OS. This is risky because a lot of cyberattacks depend on exploiting unsupported software. For example, the WannaCry ransomware primarily targeted computers running the long-deprecated Windows XP. These attacks cost businesses billions of dollars in ransom payments, reputational damage, and other legal repercussions. There’s also the fact that newer software often won’t run on older, unsupported OSs.
How to continue using Windows 7 safely
Windows 7 will keep working after January 14, 2019. It won’t suddenly shut down, but there won’t be any further updates released, including critical security patches. While there’s nothing stopping you from using Windows 7 for as long as you want to, doing so would be a bad idea, particularly from an information security standpoint. But if you still want to continue using Windows 7 without adding unnecessary risk to your business, there are a couple of options:
- Don’t connect them to your wider network.
- Don’t use computers running the unsupported OS to handle any sensitive data.
- Use Windows 7 computers in a virtual environment the same way that Windows XP Mode works for Windows 7. Since the operating system works in its own self-contained virtual environment, it’s logically separated from everything else.
- Avail of Microsoft’s three years of extended security updates (ESU). The ESU program will give companies more time to upgrade, but it also comes at the substantial cost of $25 per device in the first year and increasing to $100 per device in the last year. Windows 7 Enterprise customers will have to pay twice as much.
Evaluating your upgrade options
In most cases, upgrading to Windows 10 is a no-brainer. Often hailed as the last version of Windows, it’s delivered much like Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. This means it’s always up to date, with critical security updates being compulsory for any internet-connected device. Windows 10 users also enjoy two major feature updates every year, although you can defer these if you want.
For those who aren’t willing to upgrade to Windows 10, there are plenty of other solutions to choose from. Apple MacBooks, for example, are becoming increasingly popular in the office, but they don’t tend to work well with other systems. You’ll also need new computers since you generally can’t run MacOS on a PC. Another option, which doesn’t require any hardware changes, is to use an open-source Linux distribution, which is a popular choice for servers.
The choice is simple for most businesses. For maximum interoperability and scalability, you should go for Windows 10 Professional or, for larger organizations, an Enterprise edition. The other options are often prohibitively costly due either to the need for new hardware and/or additional employee training. Yet another option, and perhaps the best one of all, is to build an entirely cloud-based computing infrastructure and let employees use their own devices.
Netcom Solutions can help your business smoothly transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or another OS. We provide expertly managed and monitored technology services. Explore our offers today to find out more.
Like This Article?of our most popular posts