If your company is still using the Windows 7 operating on your business computers, it’s time to look for a change. That’s because Microsoft is ending support for this popular and reliable operating system that has been popular with companies for years.
On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop offering security patches and dates for Windows 7. In the next few months, choosing a new operating system is a time-sensitive issue that should not be left until the last minute.
What Does Microsoft Mean When It Says Windows 7 Is Ending?
That’s not exactly what Microsoft is saying. After January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will continue to operate. However, doing so comes at a considerable risk to your business and employees. The “end of life” description of what’s happening to Windows 7 means that Microsoft will stop all paid and unpaid support.
Microsoft will stop creating and making available important security updates. It will also stop offering new features or design improvements of any type.
More critically is the stoppage of any kind of support for customers having problems with Windows 7. Free support that had been included in licensing agreements has already ended. As of January 2020, any “extended support,” which is Microsoft’s term for paid support and which is currently available, will stop as well.
Why Not Keep Using Windows 7 After the Support and Upgrades End?
Your Windows 7 operating system will continue to operate after support ends. However, your business will be highly susceptible to cyberattacks by those looking to exploit new vulnerabilities using viruses, phishing attempts and other attack vectors. Those vulnerabilities will multiply as your computers will not be protected by the regular patches that Microsoft offers to its customers for operating systems and software.
In addition, you may find that software applications you use on Windows 7 will also not work as well. Many software companies will stop offering upgrades or support for their programs for customers using Windows 7. While some may provide some updates and support after January 2020, those services are unlikely to last very long.
Hardware and peripheral companies are also unlikely to continue to provide updates or compatibility features with an eye on Windows 7. Newer technologies of all types will likely take advantage of newer features and capabilities that were not available in the Windows 7 operating system.
Older versions of operating systems like Windows 7 come with the browser Internet Explorer embedded. Support for these older versions of Internet Explorer will also cease in January 2020. Microsoft urges customers using Internet Explorer to upgrade to IE 11.
Hackers are well aware of the January 14, 2020, deadline and are apt to look to businesses still using Windows 7 as prime targets for their attacks.
What If We Use a Windows Embedded 7 Product?
Support for certain versions of Windows Embedded 7 end in October 2020, April 2021 and October 2021. More information about these cutoffs can be found here.
Can I Activate Windows 7 After the Cutoff Date?
If you still want to activate a purchased version of Windows 7, you may do so up to and after the January 2020 date. Just remember that a newly activated version will still be vulnerable to malware and virus and will not receive Microsoft support or upgrades.
What Are My Options for Replacing Windows 7?
Microsoft is understandably encouraging current Windows 7 customers to upgrade to Windows 10, its flagship operating system product. It is also encouraging customers to buy new computers with Windows 10 installed, as older computers may not have the minimum requirements to support Windows 10 and optimize its performance.
If you purchase Microsoft 365 Business, a cloud-based version of the popular suite of Microsoft Office Apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote. Microsoft 365 Business buyers get a free upgrade if they are currently using a Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 Pro license. Microsoft 365 Business owners can also upgrade all old Windows Pro licensed device at no additional cost.
What If I Need More Time to Upgrade from Windows 7?
If you use Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise, you can buy Extended Security Updates through January 2023. Those upgrades became available for purchase on April 1, 2019. For more information on this option, please contact Microsoft directly as there are specific technical and product guidelines regarding eligibility.
Understanding the options and risks when it comes to Microsoft’s cessation of Windows 7 support and updates helps your company make an informed decision.