From 14th January 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs running the Windows 7 operating system.
Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in January 2015, with Microsoft confirming that they would continue extended support (including security patches but no software updates) until 2020.
What is Windows 7’s end of life?
“End of life” is the term that Microsoft uses to identify the period when the company will no longer support an operating system or application. The move is often used by Microsoft and other companies to dedicate people and time to the applications and services that matter the most – it is very expensive for Microsoft to maintain multiple versions of windows and it is not surprising that they would cease supporting an operating system that was first released in October 2009.
It’s also worth noting that as a component of the Windows 7 operating system, support for Internet Explorer on Windows 7 devices will be discontinued as well, though it will continue to be supported in Windows 10 for the moment.
How do I upgrade?
Whilst it is possible to upgrade PCs to Windows 10, that is not always the best approach.
If a PC was purchased within the last 4 years, it may have been supplied with rights to Windows 10, even if you asked for Windows 7 to be installed at the time. We question if a 4–year–old device is worth additional investment. You have long since written it down.
It certainly makes no sense to upgrade any PC older than 4 years. The licencing cost is prohibitive, never mind the cost of labour to do the work and hardware add–ons often required.
During 2019, the majority of Nitec’s customers have chosen to simply replace PC hardware, recognising that a modern PC brings great productivity benefits. There is no comparing a 4–year old PC to what we supply today – Windows 10 boots up in seconds on an SSD compared to minutes on an old PC with a spinning hard disk. Modern CPUs almost entirely eradicate the spinning egg timer on your applications.
Perhaps the most important reason for replacing hardware is a little more surprising. We’ve walked this path before with Windows XP, and now Windows 7 feels like salt rubbed into an open wound. But Microsoft are not planning a Windows 11. There will be other reasons to change client PCs in the future, but it’s unlikely to be a repeat of Windows XP & Windows 7. Investing properly in replacement hardware now will reap benefits for the foreseeable future. We have been encouraging clients to spend a little more this time round to make sure what they purchase is suitable for the longer term.
What happens if I don’t upgrade?
Your Windows 7 PC will not stop working after the 14th January 2020 – Microsoft have stated that they will stop releasing security patches to your PC from that day on. In our opinion, that PC at that moment should be removed from your network. You have no real choice.
Running unsupported software could also have a major impact on any compliance or insurance policies being relied upon. For example, one of the key tenants of the UK Cyber Essentials Security Standard for small business, that so many of our clients have already been certified for, is that all the software you are running is supported by the supplier. You lose the certificate if you are still running Windows 7.
Whilst it is possible to receive extended support for certain editions of Windows 7 after January 2020, those costs are prohibitive and grow exponentially each year. If you believe you have no other options available to you, then talk to your Nitec account manager as soon as possible. Simply put, it makes much more sense to replace the PC than pay to extend the support.
We would therefore strongly recommend taking the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 ahead of 14th January 2020 to give your organisation access to advanced security and productivity features.
I still have questions…
At Nitec, our priority is ensuring our customers have the best system in place to support their requirements and deliver efficiency and security, and we will be working with our customers over the coming weeks and months to encourage and support a smooth transition that won’t see your business operations disrupted.