On January 14th of 2020, Microsoft will end extended support for two of their cornerstone operating systems – Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2. 12 months may seem like a long time, but it’s really not when you think about the computing life cycle and all the tasks and requirements that will go into meeting this deadline. It’s important to start thinking about it and planning now, so you’re not caught with any glaring security holes in your network.
For some background, Microsoft launched Windows 7 in July of 2009 and Server 2008R2 in October of that year. Both have seen huge adoption and market share for Microsoft, with Window 7 to this day estimated to be running on more than 40% of all PCs. Windows 7 particularly remains a huge stronghold for Microsoft since it was sandwiched in between two versions widely considered major flops – Windows Vista and Windows 8.
What exactly does end of extended support mean? First, Windows 7 and Server 2008R2 will NOT stop working on January 20, 2020. However, you will no longer be able to get support from Microsoft, nor will they be issuing any patches or security updates. Because of this, if you continue to operate a computer with Windows 7 after this date, you will be increasingly more vulnerable to exploits, bugs, viruses and ransomware. Microsoft “strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.”
So what do you need to be thinking about to make this transition? Well of course the key is to identify any systems in your environment still running these outdated operating systems. We can work hand-in-hand with you to make that information readily available. Next is to put some time into planning a migration, and there are a lot of things to think about. While an “upgrade” is technically possible, it’s not always the best path forward. Being more than 8 years old, many machines currently running Windows 7 will not meet the minimum recommended specs for Windows 10 (and same for Servers). However the specs are fairly modest considering, so some of your systems might be more than sufficient for the upgrade.
The next piece is software running on these computers. It is likely that older versions of programs will face significant challenges running on the newer updated operating systems. It is critical that you work with us to test these applications and we work with your users and specific software vendors to ensure compatibility. Applications running on servers in particular could cause widespread, business impactful issues if not properly vetted before migrating to new versions. It’s imperative to start this process as soon as possible, because the risk of any major changes or wholesale upgrades to mission critical applications could put the timeline required for migration pretty far out, and you really want to get this completed before the deadline wherever possible.
It’s interesting to note that as of now, Microsoft’s plan is to have Windows 10 be the ‘last’ Windows. You won’t ever need to upgrade to a new operating system. Incremental updates will happen behind the scenes without major upheaval. So, in a few years’ time, Windows 10 may look completely different it will have ‘morphed’ in the background with no costly, difficult upgrades.So hopefully this will be the last time you’ll have to think about wholesale changes to your computers and operating