NOTE: The January 14th deadline for Windows 7 is exactly a week away. Do you have a plan?
Windows 7 became available to the public on October 22, 2009 and, after an impressive 10-year run, will reach its end-of-life (EOL) on January 14, 2020. This shouldn’t be breaking news to anyone as Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015 and announced its EOL more than a year ago.
However, new data from Netmarketshare shows that Windows 7 market share actually increased slightly to 37.19 percent in January 2019. Windows 10 market share also increased to 40.9 percent, but those gains mostly came from people who finally let go of Windows XP, which hasn’t been supported since 2014 but still owns 2.76 percent of the market. When Microsoft stopped supporting XP, four out of every 10 computers around the world were affected. Windows 7’s EOL will probably have a similar impact less than a year from now.
There’s a reason why you’re constantly reminded about Windows 7 end of life. It’s a big deal. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop sending to security updates, which means any new vulnerabilities won’t be patched. Hackers are salivating. Their jobs will become much easier in less than a year, and they’ve already set their sights on Windows 7 machines. EOL also means Microsoft will stop offering support and customer service for Windows 7. If you run into a problem, Microsoft won’t be there to help you.
You have three general options if you want to avoid the risk of running an unsupported product. Microsoft recently announced that it will offer Windows 7 Extended Security Updates through January 2023 – for a price. For Windows Enterprise customers, the annual cost will be $25 per device in the first year, $50 per device in the second year, and $100 per device in the third year. Windows 7 Pro customers will pay twice as much - $50 per device in the first year, $100 per device in the second year, and $200 per device in the third year.
The high price tag is another example of Microsoft’s preference that organizations migrate to Windows 10. Windows 10 is very similar to Windows 7 in terms of layout and functionality, so you don’t have to worry about another Windows 8 debacle. You might need to make some hardware upgrades to meet minimum technical requirements for Windows 10, but those upgrades will be necessary at some point whether you upgrade to Windows 10 or not.
You also have the option to move to a Linux or Mac operating system. Moving to Linux is relatively inexpensive, while a shift to Mac is the most expensive option. Both options could bring resistance from end-users who would be forced to learn a new operating system.
Migration to Windows 10 makes the most sense for Windows 7 users for a number of reasons. First, it’s still Microsoft, so it’s a seamless transition. In addition, Windows 10 offers at least seven security features that Windows 7 doesn’t have, including multilayer defenses against ransomware attacks. For example, the WannaCry attack of 2017 affected Windows 7 machines, but not Windows 10. Windows 10 is also more cloud-friendly and has far fewer compatibility issues with other applications.
While January 2020 may seem like the distant future, keep in mind that many organizations need a year or more to complete a Windows 10 migration. Let RMM help you develop a migration plan that gets end-users on board, minimizes risk, and allows you to integrate the powerful features of Windows 10 into your business processes.