The Windows 7 operating system will reach its “end of life” with Microsoft on January 14, 2020.
What does this mean?
Microsoft will no longer be pushing security updates to machines using the Windows 7 operating system. This is a pretty big deal. Security patches are critical for protecting business networks. Running a machine on your network that’s not receiving the latest Microsoft security patches is a very large risk.
How do I update my Windows 7 Machines before End of Life?
I meet with clients every day that are faced with the challenge of upgrading their Windows 7 machines. For many of them, the solution is a simple replacement of the machine to get on the latest Windows 10 operating system. For others, it’s more challenging to come up with the right approach. Perhaps they’re running older manufacturing machinery that isn’t compatible with Windows 10 yet. Maybe they weren’t aware of the impending changes, so they haven’t budgeted the capital it will take to upgrade their Windows 7 machines.
Whatever the situation is, there are ways to make it not only palatable for your organization, but to also change the way your organization manages its hardware inventory. I advise my clients to start by doing an analysis of their machines. From there we discuss the following options and decide which makes the most sense:
Upgrade and Replacement Options
Depending on the size of the organization, we could order net new machines with Windows 10 installed on them. We could also look at a leasing option which would minimize the impact to the organization from a capital perspective. The lease would simply become an operating expense. On this plan, machines would be replaced every 3 years so the organization would no longer be faced with the situation where they had aging hardware.
Maybe the machine isn’t that old but was purchased with Windows 7. In that case, assuming all business software is compatible with Windows 10, you can purchase an upgrade license for the machine. If your organization is already on the Office 365 platform, you can upgrade to the Microsoft 365 E5 platform which provides each user with the E5 license a Windows 10 license. This option is also ideal for machines that are running software that isn’t compatible with Windows 10. It will allow you the rights to continue running Windows 7 for another 3 years, and Microsoft will continue to push the security updates to those machines. When your organization is ready to upgrade to Windows 10, the license will be available to you with the subscription.
Segregation from the Network
If your organization isn’t on Office 365, or if for financial reasons you cannot afford to upgrade the machine, or the business software is not compatible with anything other than Windows 7, then I recommend you complete an analysis of the access needed for that machine. In many instances, we are able to lock the machine down so it is not talking to the outside world. This limits the exposure and risk but still allows the machine to run your critical business software.
There is a lot to think about, and not a lot of time to think about it. January 14, 2020 is right around the corner. Don’t get lost in the shuffle. Start thinking about this today! If you need help deciding on the best way to move forward with your Windows 7 machines, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.