microsoft, windows security, windows patching, windows 7, end of life, windows support

Windows 7 End of Life and the Impact on Your Business

There are many versions of Windows Operating systems you’ve seen throughout the years. Windows 7 is soon reaching the end of it’s lifecycle, and an upgrade will be necessary for the safety of your PC. For the non-tech savvy folk, this means the product is expiring on January 14, 2020. An upgrade of your operating system will be essential to protect yourself against the billions of malware instances that already exist, and the hundreds that hit the internet every day.

You’ve likely heard about data breaches, hacking attempts, and other ransomware that have been affecting businesses of all sizes. Ransomware can lock vital company resources and demand money to unlock them. We had written a story about how this affected one of our clients not too long ago.

Upgrading your operating system to the latest version and keeping them patched doesn’t solve the problem entirely (you still need to train your staff on security awareness), but it will maximize your chances of preventing or enduring an attack. Making sure your computer is running the latest version of the operating system is the easiest action to take now for IT security.  

How can you check if you are using Windows 7 for your operating system? You can check by clicking the start button, going to PC Settings and then PC info. This should tell you which operating system you are running. You can also follow the instructions listed here:

windows 7 screenshot

There are two types of support you’ll want to become familiar with – mainstream and extended. Mainstream support means that Microsoft is taking care of that version, providing security updates for bugs, and releasing design changes and warranty claims. Once an operating system is in extended support, this means bug fixes and patches are being administered, but there are no new features or complimentary support.  Once extended support ends, your PC will still operate, but will become more vulnerable to security risks because you’ll stop receiving security and feature updates.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13, 2015, and extended support will only last until January 14, 2020. Support for Internet Explorer on Windows 7 devices will also be discontinued on January 14, 2020. As a component of Windows operating system, Internet Explorer follows the same support lifecycle.

Extended support usually lasts five years past the expiration date of mainstream support. If you have Windows 8 or 10, you’re in the clear for a few more years. However, if you’re currently using Windows 7, you’ll want to move to Windows 10. Windows 10 is currently on a “Modern Lifecycle Policy”, which provides continuous service and support to the end of the products life (October 14, 2025).

So, what do you need to know about an upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 is available for purchase and is included on new computers, or as a full version of the software to be installed on your current computer. Upgrade times vary depending on the age of your computer and how it’s configured. Most devices will take an hour to upgrade as soon as the download is completed. You’ll want to make sure to free up storage space by removing files or apps if you have a full hard drive. For businesses, you will want to ask your managed service provider or IT person to complete this project for your organization to avoid any issues.

If there are several computers still running Windows 7, you’ll want to upgrade sooner than later to avoid any security concerns. Microsoft has promised it will carry on supporting Windows 7 after the expiration date, but only for businesses willing to pay a big chunk of change. The prices will be per machine, and will increase over time. If you’re a nonprofit and worried about IT security, you’ll definitely want to migrate your Windows 7 machines now to avoid the hefty costs to maintain your business security.

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