It’s officially old news at this point, but thousands of businesses and organizations are still in denial or repeatedly muttering “it’ll be fine” over and over and over. One of the most popular and widely active versions of the Windows operating system—Windows 7—is approaching end of life. Mainstream support for Windows 7 actually ceased several years ago, meaning no further enhancements or updates other than critical security patching have been maintained since 2015. On January 14, 2020, even that extended support will reach its end of life (EOL) and many are still unprepared.
In addition to the widely reported EOL for Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 will also reach end of life on January 14, 2020. It’s been estimated that as much as 70% of server installations feature a version of Windows Server OS, and of those 70%, approximately 40% are running Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2. That could mean nearly 30% of Servers worldwide are running a soon-to-be-EOL Server OS within a month.
The scheduled demise of both Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 has been published for years, yet many corporate computers and home systems still chug along with the aging systems. Microsoft’s official stance on continued use of Windows 7 is quite clear:
“After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates and support for PCs with Windows 7. If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it may become more vulnerable to security risks.”
This is enough to strike fear into the hearts of IT professionals and security teams who are still dealing with Windows 7 computers—possibly hundreds or even thousands of desktops and laptop computers that are still running Windows 7.
What Does Windows 7 End of Life Mean to You?
Will Windows 7 cease to run correctly after Microsoft’s deadline? Not at all. If you can’t get migrated to the latest Windows release—Windows 10—immediately, rest assured that your computer and programs will still run and your data will still be available. Your biggest problem is security—and that’s no small problem.
After the Windows 7 and Windows 7 Enterprise end of life, there will be no future security patching. If cybercriminals find new ways to penetrate Windows 7 systems, you’re on your own. Obviously, that does not paint a pretty picture with the number of hackers and malware issues so well-publicized today.
Are you immune to this deadline if you’re using different versions of Windows 7, such as Home, Pro, or Enterprise? No, every version of Windows 7 is included at the end of life deadline.
What Does Windows Server 2008 R2 End of Life Mean to You?
Similarly to Windows 7 End of Life, Windows Server 2008 R2 machines will continue to operate just as before. The machines aren’t just going to switch off, go dark, and never come back on again. You’ll still be able to access your typical server functions, such as shared drives, networked software, RDP, and so on. However, as with Windows 7, Microsoft will cease all patching—including critical security updates—and systems will quickly grow exponentially more vulnerable as the days and weeks go by.
An unpatched server, while it shouldn’t be frequently exposed to threats anyway, is perhaps an even bigger liability than an unpatched workstation due to the nature of its responsibilities. Many companies use servers as a hub for critical and sensitive company or personal data, client information, proprietary plans, even email exchange. Keeping a device like that secure should be a top priority for any business.
What Are Your Options?
Regardless whether you’re a home office, corporate enterprise, small business, or use your Windows 7 computer for email or internet use, the most prudent move is to make the jump to Windows 10 as soon as possible—definitely before the end of life deadline.
How do you get there? You have a few options to migrate to Windows 10:
Purchase and install the software. This can be done online, downloading WIN 10 to your machine or separate media, then following Microsoft’s instructions to install the software on your existing computer. You can purchase Windows 10 from either Microsoft, or several online retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and others. Pricing will vary based on the version of Windows 10 purchased (Home, Pro, etc.). Before downloading, be sure your computer meets the minimum requirements for WIN 10, as provided by Microsoft:
- Processor:1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor
- RAM:1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space:16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card:DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display:800 x 600
- Internet connection
Note: Keep in mind these are bare minimum requirements! For a better experience, we recommend at least 4GB RAM and more than 1GHz processor (actual GHz will vary depending on processor generation and cores). If you can spring for 8GB RAM, you’ll have a much better time.
Another option—and possibly your best choice—is to purchase a new computer that comes with WIN 10 already installed. While this may be somewhat more expensive, several factors make this a preferred approach:
- No installation of the operating system is required.
- Your new computer quite likely consists of newer technology including better graphics, more memory, faster and/or larger storage capacity (solid state drives are becoming more and more common as the prices continue to drop).
- Your old computer is still available for migrating applications, data, pictures, and documents to the new system as time permits. Meanwhile, you’re using a secure Windows 10 computer for online activity, removing your WIN 7 system’s vulnerability as a problem.
- New machine = new warranty against hardware issues!
Another option for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise users is contracting with Microsoft to provide extended security updates up to January 2023. Microsoft has already indicated that they will offer this service to those versions of the OS, but there’s a catch—this support is available only on a per-user basis, is priced on an increasing scale for each year purchased, and varies by the version of Windows 7 in use.
Your other option is to switch from the Windows operating system to a different architecture, such as Mac or Linux-based computers. This is undoubtedly more extreme from the standpoint of learning a new OS and migrating your data to a new system.
Planning Your Migration to Windows 10
Migrating to a new version of Windows is no small undertaking. CDS Office Technologies can help your business plan and execute the transition successfully and with the least disruption to your operation. The time to act is NOW, though—the longer you wait, the more difficult the transition will be.
Call CDS Office Technologies today to create a comprehensive plan for coping with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 end of life.