All good things must come to an end. Even the best of products cease to be relevant once a superior successor enters the market. Microsoft has sent out the message: Windows 7 will have reached the end of its lifespan on January 14th 2020. But don’t enter a period of mourning just yet, because for those not yet transitioned to Windows 10, there is an opportunity to develop your systems through adopting Windows 10. Yes, we know you may have loved Windows 7, but put the black veil away for now.
Windows 7 of course was an easy sell for most businesses due to its easy install and setup process, and it generally being an operating system that worked how customers needed it to. The iteration was a noticeable step up from Vista, but with the best will in the world, it is still completely inadvisable to suggest continuing with a near-obsolete OS. Don’t forget, Windows 7 is now more than ten years old!
End of life
This morbid term refers to the company putting an end to support for the extremely popular operating system. Essentially, this means that you won’t be able to buy the product anymore from official points of sale, and any technical support or bug fixes will also become impossible to get your hands on. Besides this, validation of software installs and official training for the software will become things of the past. Windows 7 has reached its period of decline the product lifecycle, and Microsoft has therefore made the choice to focus its efforts on providing the best user experience possible on its other operating systems and applications.
Implications – Cyber Security
The single biggest fear for those left on an unsupported Windows 7 should be the lack of security. Plugging the holes on a slowly sinking ship works as long as there is still a vigilant crew on hand to find and fill these holes. Windows 7 is a ship without anyone to even find the holes – let alone do anything to fix them. The sinking ship metaphor works particularly well here because of the severe implications of being unprotected. If all of your most secret and sensitive trade secrets are leaking through the cracks, the future could quickly become an uphill struggle.
It’s easy to sit back and think “this won’t affect me, no one will spend the time and effort to attack me.” Hackers are a special breed. They are opportunistic and know when to strike, likely waiting for the support to end to make their move on systems that they know are vulnerable. The small effort of changing operating systems is definitely less of a pain than having to deal with damaging cyber-attacks. Remember when the NHS was hit by ransomware in 2017? Entire hospitals had to revert to using pen and paper. The threat is real.
Implications – Suffering skills
Granted it’s possible that incompatibility may be a large inconvenience, but it is something that can be overcome. Being sent a file that you can’t open due to the source using alternate (often superior) software will waste considerable time, but it will not break your business. On the other hand, the skills gained from learning and using new operating systems and associated software is something that absolutely must be maintained. New features and general integration is found with each new iteration of Windows, and brings with it new ways to improve computer literacy.
So you can’t be expected to keep your own basic IT skills sharp, but more to the point, attracting and keeping skilled workers to a business reliant on unsupported operating systems will become a task. Competent technical workers will have a need to work with equipment that supports their range of abilities. Imagine an Olympic sprinter trying to run in light-up trainers that are two sizes too small for them – a completely ridiculous situation, but also a hugely impractical one.
Implications – Cost
Both of the previous examples go some way to explaining the impact an obsolete operating system would have on any business and its operating costs. As pointed out, it can cost you potential work opportunities, waste time and even leave you open to the risk of debilitating security breaches. This literal or opportunity cost is one thing to measure, but maintenance of your computer brings a new tangibility to the idea of increase costs thanks to an end of life operating system.
The decreased reliability that comes with an unsupported system (specifically its software) means an exorbitant cost. There is an extended security update available for those who cannot move over immediately – with the cost to cover a single windows device estimated at around £20 for a year after the end of life date. Working in a building with even just twenty employees can start to cost more than you bargained for, you don’t need us to do the maths here.
Over half of all computers worldwide are running Windows 10. Just let it sink in how many computers that is. Between advanced security management, device management and compatibility improvements, it is easy to see why Windows 10 is set to become the true standard operating system businesses on a global scale. With a reduced need for a time-consuming reset when deploying the new operating system, you won’t be inhibited by any stop-start interruptions to your working processes. Using technologies such as those found in windows server 2012 can also aid in making your life easier – not to mention a hell of a lot more efficient!
It’s time to take advantage of the end of Windows 7’s lifespan. If you want to find out more about how to deploy, manage or maintain Windows 10, make sure to get in touch! We can help to make the transition to and running of Windows 10 as smooth as possible.