After almost a decade in service, Windows 7 is finally due to be retired on January 14, 2020. When that happens, Microsoft will stop releasing updates and providing customer support for the dated operating system. In addition, there won’t be any more critical security updates to be released, which means continuing to use Windows 7 could leave your business open to a data breach.
When Windows 7 reaches the end of its extended support life cycle, you’ll still be able to use it, but that doesn’t mean you should. To keep your operations running smoothly and reduce the chances of a security incident, you should start planning for an upgrade as soon as possible. For most businesses, the obvious solution is to upgrade to Windows 10, although that’s not the only option.
First, back up all your files
No matter which route you take, you’re going to need to back up your files before making any major changes to your computers. You can usually perform an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10, which means all your documents and applications should be left untouched, but it’s still a risky process.
By far the best place to keep your data is in the cloud, where it will be accessible from any location using any device with an internet connection. What’s more, Windows 10 integrates natively with the OneDrive app, Microsoft’s own cloud storage solution. And if you have an Office 365 subscription, one terabyte of free online storage per user is available to you, making it an attractive solution.
And even if you don’t upgrade to Windows 10 but decide to switch to an entirely new operating system such as Linux or MacOS, then you’ll need to back up your files anyway to reformat your system hard drives for a different OS.
What to do if you need more time?
Few businesses are likely to want to go through the hassle of migrating over to a completely new operating environment, in which case moving to Windows 10 is the only practical option. While most upgrades should be quick and hassle-free given that the system requirements are broadly similar for both operating systems, the preparational steps still require some time, and there’s always a chance of something going wrong.
While getting rid of Windows 7 should undoubtedly be a priority, you should adopt a strategic approach, rolling out the update one user group at a time, particularly if you have hundreds of computers across multiple branches to upgrade. Unfortunately, with only a couple of months left to upgrade, that might not be possible.
Realizing that Windows 7 still powers around a third of all business machines, Microsoft has decided to provide up to three years of critical security updates. Extended Security Updates (ESU) won’t come cheap, however, with prices starting at $25 per device for the first year and increasing to $100 per device for the third and final year. Prices are double that for users of Windows 7 Professional.
What about moving to another operating system?
If you’ve been thinking of making a clean break, now might be the perfect opportunity. But be warned that migrating to an entirely new operating system takes more work than an upgrade. For starters, none of your previous Windows software will work in the new OS, and you may need to provide extensive employee training to ensure they’re accustomed to the new software. If you want to switch to Mac, you’ll even need to replace all your hardware.
Are you worried about the impending end of life for Windows 7? Consult with the team at Netcom Solutions today to get the help you need to upgrade.
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