In March 2019, Microsoft determined that it would be ending support for its incredibly popular operating system, Windows 7. Users were given just under a year to upgrade to the company’s most recent OS update, Windows 10. But while the company expressed the urgency of the upgrading, it didn’t offer it’s a lot of direction about what to do next. With 35% of Windows users still utilizing Windows 7 in March, knowing the next steps for your business will be crucial.
What if I don’t upgrade?
This is a complicated question. Support ends on January 14, 2020, but that doesn’t mean that your computer will just stop working at midnight. Instead, Microsoft will stop offering support and patches for your computer. For a few days or weeks, that’s unlikely to be a problem. But with constantly evolving security threats, your operating system will become gradually more vulnerable to cyber threats, and that can put your whole business at risk.
What are my upgrade options?
There are three basic options you can take when Windows 7 support ends in 2020.
First, you can choose to upgrade your physical devices – computers, tablets, etc – to devices running Windows 10. This may be the simplest method of moving forward since you’ll simply open your device and be ready to go. A recent development called Windows Auto Touch means that you can have a “zero-touch interaction.” IT administrators assign devices to users in advance, and they have almost no role to play after that. If you have a large number of older devices that needed upgrades anyway, this may be the best route for you.
Second, you can choose to upgrade the operating system on your current Windows machines to Windows 10. Upgrading licenses have traditionally been expensive; for some companies, that cost may have been why they stayed with Windows 7 for so long. But if you have a subscription to Office 365, that will give you a license to upgrade from Windows 7 Pro or Enterprise to Windows 10. If you have up to date machines and just need the OS upgrade, or if you already use Office 365, this is a great option.
Third, if you really need to keep Windows 7 due to legacy systems or other business needs, you can choose to purchase Extended Service Updates. But don’t expect ESU to continue to roll out new services or keep your OS functional with the newest programs; Microsoft describes ESU as a strictly last resort option. Patches to avoid the worst of the security bugs out there will be rolled out periodically, but that’s all you’ll get – and you’ll pay a hefty fee for this.
Get ready for the cloud
For some companies, this may be the push they need to start migrating programs to the cloud. If you have legacy applications that need Windows 7 to run and do not have versions available for Windows 10, then using Microsoft’s Azure Virtual Desktop may give you the best of both worlds. This cloud-based system runs Windows 7 and 10 programs in a safe, virtual environment. You also get free ESU for your Windows 7 system, giving you more time to navigate a total transition to an up to date operating system.
Another option is Microsoft’s App Assure, which helps migrate applications from Windows 7 into Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. If app compatibility has been a sticking point for your organization, this is another viable alternative.
And of course, if you’re not sure how to move forward, Michell is here to help. We’ve been helping clients navigate the Windows 7 to 10 transition all year, and we have solutions ready for any client situation.