The End of Life … for Windows 7 …  is Nigh

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Microsoft’s Windows 7 Operating system, introduced in 2009 and only intended to upgrade windows in the wake of the much-disliked Windows Vista finally reaches its end of life date on 14 January 2020.  Looking back, it was an unexpected success in many ways, and looking forward, if you’re one of the 39% of Windows users still running Windows 7 (only 44% are running Windows 10), you may feel that you’ve been left with little choice but to move away from the devil you know to the not-so-big-bad Windows 10.

Big Success For Microsoft

Evolving from early codename versions such as “Blackcomb”, “Longhorn,” and then “Vienna” (in early 2006), what was finally named as Windows 7 in October 2008 proved to be an immediate success on its release in 2009.  The update-turned Operating System, which was worked upon by an estimated 1,000 developers clocked-up more than 100 million sales worldwide within the first 6 months of its release. Windows 7 was made available in 6 different editions, with the most popularly recognised being the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions.

Big Improvement

Windows 7 was considered to be a big improvement upon Windows Vista which, although achieving some impressive usage figures (still lower than XP though) came in for a lot of criticism for its high system requirements, longer boot time and compatibility problems with pre-Vista hardware and software.

Some of the key improvements that Windows 7 brought were the taskbar and a more intuitive feel, much-improved performance, and fewer annoying User Account Control popups. Some of the reasons for switching to Windows 7 back in 2009 were that it had been coded to support most pieces of software that ran on XP, it could automatically install device drivers, the Aero features provided a much better interface, it offered much better hardware support, the 64-bit version of Windows 7 could handle a bigger system memory, and the whole Operating System had a better look and feel.

End of Life = End of Support = Danger

After looking back at the successes of Windows 7 it seems a shame to have to focus on the impending ‘end of life’ on 14 January.  End of life isn’t quite as final as it sounds. Windows 7 will still run but support i.e. security patches, will no longer be available for it.

For Azure customers, the Windows Virtual Desktop does still mean that there’s the option of an extra three years of extended support as part of that package, but there may be some costs incurred in migrating to the cloud service.

Yes, ‘Extended Security Updates’ can be also purchased by customers with active Software Assurance for subscription licenses for 75% of the on-premises annual license cost, but this should only really be considered as a temporary measure to ease the transition to Windows 10, or if you’ve simply been caught out by the deadline.

Embracing the Positive

It may even be the case that in the process of worrying about the many complications and potential challenges of migrating to Windows 10 you haven’t allowed yourself to focus on the positive aspects of the OS such a faster and more dynamic environment and support for important business software like Office 365 and Windows server 2016.

Planning and Time

In order to maximise security and finally get round to taking the plunge and migrating to a new operating system, it’s worth noting that IT project deployment can be slow, some remedial work may be required in the transition, and you will need to make sure that you have identified any issues that you have in your environment.  This means that although the deadline is technically a couple of months away, there will be the interruption of the Christmas and New Year break to consider, and it may be wise to allow yourself enough time to gather all the information and to plan the project so that everything goes smoothly.  

What To Do Now

The deadline to end of support/end of life for Windows 7 is just around the corner, but the stats show that, if you’ve not yet done your homework and planned your move of Windows 7, you’re not alone.  Ideally, a slow and measured approach to an upgrade of this kind and scale would allow enough time for planning and for the smoothest of transitions. Unfortunately, we no longer have the luxury of time and although there are some possible OS alternatives to Windows 10, these could bring their own challenges and risks that you may not yet have considered.

For most businesses then, there is a realisation that the threat of no more support means that continuing to run Windows 7 presents a real risk to the business e.g. from every new hacking and malware attack that comes along after January. If you choose to upgrade to Windows 10 on your existing computers, you will need to take into account factors such as the age and specification of those computers, and there are likely to be costs involved in upgrading existing computers.  You may also be considering, depending on the size/nature of your business and your IT budget, buying new computers with Windows 10 installed, and in addition to the cost implications you may also be wondering how and whether you can use any business existing systems or migrate any important existing data and programs to this platform.

One thing is clear: if you’re still running Windows 7, the time to act is now.

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