Tech Tips from CoopSys – Episode 2: Navigating Windows 7 End Of Life
Even with Windows 7 End Of Life upon us, about 1/3 of all PCs running Windows are reported to still be running on this favorite operating system. Unfortunately for those people and businesses, even though it has been a hugely successful operating system, Microsoft has announced that effective January 14th 2020 Windows 7 will officially hit “End Of Life”.
Since it came out 10 years ago, which is an awfully long time ago in the tech world, Windows 7 has been really good to businesses. So much so that a lot of organizations just went ahead and skipped the Windows 8 upgrade. Many of these companies are still not convinced they need to make any changes even as Windows 10 takes over the scene.
Well, the time has come and if you’re currently running a legacy version of Windows you may actually already be seeing some courtesy notifications from Microsoft telling you that you should upgrade. Older PC’s might even see blocked operating system updates since Microsoft started preparing users for this as far back as June of 2018.
In episode 2 of our Tech Tips from CoopSys series, we discuss exactly what this news means, why it is happening, and what actions may be required of you as a Windows 7 user or business running Windows 7 on your machines.
What does “End Of Life” mean?
End-Of-Life is when a manufacturer stops security updates, fixes, and support for a product. With mainstream product support, users benefit from ongoing product development that brings new features, tweaks, and all the necessary security patches, bug fixes, and tech support they need.
Mainstream support for Windows 7 actually already ended back in January 2015. Right now it’s already under what’s called “extended support”. This is when the product is no longer being developed and improved by Microsoft, but all the security updates and support are still available for it.
Translation: They haven’t done any bug fixes or made any enhancements since that started, but they’re still doing security patches and offering support for users since it’s still in the “extended support” stage.
This “End-Of-Life” announcement we’re addressing today is saying that after January 14th 2020 Microsoft will cut off all those security updates and all the technical support and software updates that come with having a Windows 7 license. Once it leaves this extended support stage and enters End Of Life it really becomes “use at your own risk”.
Microsoft won’t be responsible for lost data or broken processes because of any errors or breaches or any scenario that might come up! That means that you become at the mercy of your connections and everything that being online brings – hackers and all.
New attacks are being developed constantly around these sorts of transitions. They know you’re going to be behind patches and security updates soon! As a business, you are risking losing important data and increasing your susceptibility exponentially.
Why Is This Happening?
Even before releasing any software, Microsoft has an idea of what the product lifecycle will be. In order to sell the latest operating systems with the most up to date features, security, and support, they need to eventually phase out the older ones. Makes sense, right?
They just can’t reasonably focus their investments on newer technologies and experiences while still trying to stay competitive with outdated legacy products.
What This Means For You
Think about this: Do you want your company running on computer software that Microsoft won’t take responsibility for the security or functionality of anymore?
Do you want to be running your life and your business “at your own risk” without support or important security protections?
No, your computer won’t just stop working on January 15th 2020; however, you will be extremely vulnerable from that day on to all of the emerging security concerns out there. You’ll have no patches for security issues and new threats, and no support from the Microsoft team to find your way out of trouble you run into. The longer you wait, the more dangerous your usage will become.
YES – There is an option for Windows 7 users who don’t immediately transition off of it before January 2020.
Unsurprisingly, it is quite expensive.
Microsoft is offering a pay-per-device subscription called “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates” or “ESUs” that will be available for when time’s up. It will only be for up to 3 years, though, and will come to an end in 2023. Rather than a permanent solution, this is really just to buy you some time.
The first year of ESU will cost you $50 per device, and it’s going to double every year. Year 2 per device cost will be $100, and it jumps to $200 per machine in year 3. For a small business, that’s a big number to be putting into delaying the inevitable need to make a change!
If you wait to sign up for ESU and try to sign up in year 2, you are not saving yourself or your business any money. On top of that, you’re adding risk!
You’ll end up having to pay for the previous years’ ESU coverage because Microsoft requires you to install all the security updates that come from the onset of the extended security support program.
How To Make The Change
You know you and your business need to get off of Windows 7. Now what?
Change is hard… but Windows 10 is getting all the TLC from Microsoft that an operating system needs to help you move forward with a modern, secure, functional workstation. There is help available out there, and also keep in mind that your system really needs to be configured appropriately. That means you should have firewalls and antivirus and all of your tools in place in order for this to be a seamless transition as you would want.
It isn’t just a matter of pressing a button and crossing it off your to-do list.
Get help from someone who’s comfortable executing this transition for your team!
When it comes to something as integral to your daily operations as your computer’s operating system, your business and its employees will benefit from you having the latest Microsoft products installed and not prolonging what will become the inevitable: Trouble.
This isn’t always a straightforward software swap. In some cases it may be necessary to consider simultaneously replacing the computer itself. Many times, we find that where there is outdated software there are older, slower, heavier, less powerful, less secure machines. What’s available today is likely to be quicker, higher impact, more secure, lighter weight, and it’s likely to be a considerably lower price than the average PC around the time that Windows 7 was the latest and greatest OS!
Here’s a basic checklist to start your process:
- Identify machines on Windows 7 (or prior – yikes!)
- Consider upgrade options vs. replacement by machine
- Develop your timeline with budgeting considerations for upgrades and replacements
- Put security controls together to account for Windows 7 machines if they won’t be upgraded or removed right away
- Factor in employee training to adopt their new operating system! Teach them how to be successful!
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