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Windows 7’s End of Life is Here. What It Means, and Why You Need to Care

There are a lot of things I love about our industry, and about IT in general. I believe in what the right tech strategy can do for any organization and I believe that everyone should have access to this type of tangible asset, regardless of their size.

Unfortunately, there are also a lot of things that annoy me about our industry – like IT providers who try to sell their services not based on value, but on fear.

We’ll often see competitors do things like performing “dark web scans” to identify threats that aren’t there. They’ll call harmless files threats in an effort to get people to buy their diagnostics software. They’ll sell people on unnecessary tech support plans under the guise of cyber security, because “you never can be too careful.” Companies have received hefty fines for this type of activity in the past, but there’s just no stopping some people.

But interestingly, there are some cases where the exact opposite is happening, too.

Sometimes there’s a real threat out there, but it seems like everyone has blinders on the issue. Maybe they don’t understand the true implications, or they do and they just want to “kick the can down the road” for as long as they can. In my personal opinion, Windows 7 approaching “End of Life” is definitely one of them.

There’s a good chance that you still own at least one device running Windows 7 and if you do, as a fellow business owner, it’s something that I urge you to take seriously. This is one of those cases where the consequences of “getting it wrong” are more far-reaching than you might realize.

The Situation with Windows 7

As stated, Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system is quickly approaching its “End of Life” status – this despite the fact that it is still a widely used operating system around the world. As of January 2020, Microsoft will stop issuing security fixes, patches, and updates for Windows 7 entirely. This means that when new security vulnerabilities are discovered – and they will be – there will be no official way to fix them.

For this reason alone, you should update to a new operating system as soon as possible. In the short term, things will be pretty safe because your computers will still be protected by antivirus software and the network firewall. In the long run, as flaws are found, it will become more and more risky to use the operating system. The goal should be to move to Windows 10 by January 2020, but if you need to stretch it out a few months after that, we can work with that as well. Just keep in mind that hackers are always quick to exploit flaws, and after January of next year, everyone still using Windows 7 essentially has a target on their back.

But this isn’t the only reason why you need to make the shift to something new as quickly as you can. There are a number of other essential reasons, too – all of which are worth exploring.

Software Incompatibility

New applications are always optimized for the most recent operating system available. This means that moving forward, Windows 7 compatibility isn’t going to be something that developers think about. They’ll be focused on Windows 10 and later.

If you’re still using an End of Life operating system like Windows 7, you can’t upgrade to the latest and greatest versions of the apps you use on a daily basis. You’ll be stuck with legacy applications, which will quickly reach “End of Life” themselves.

Compliance Issues

Equally important is the idea of compliance – something we all have to care about, whether we like it or not. If you’re operating in a regulated industry like healthcare or e-commerce, and deal with huge volumes of sensitive consumer data, using an “End of Life” operating system is a great way to violate compliance before you even realize you have a problem.

Sky High Operating Costs

In an era where profit margins are already thin, trust me: the costs of maintaining and bug-fixing any post “End of Life” software are not something you want to deal with.

Paying Microsoft to continue to patch Windows 7 for you will quickly exceed the cost of just upgrading to Windows 10 in the first place. Likewise, when you also think about the steep downtime costs of a mission-critical app failing, it becomes clear that this is a situation you’ll definitely want to avoid.

Poor Performance and Worse Reliability

If you’re still running legacy apps and older versions of Windows, the chances are high that your servers, workstations and other hardware are just as old. All of this contributes significantly to the overall risk you’re exposed to, because these out-of-warranty devices are prone to breaking down. Again – the amount of money you’ll lose to downtime will quickly exceed the cost of just upgrading while you still have the opportunity.

In the end, the key thing to understand is that there’s no “bulletproof” way to safely and successfully run “End of Life” software – let alone an EOL operating system like Windows 7. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you something.

The potential risks will always outweigh whatever you perceive the rewards to be, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Instead of constantly worrying about the security, compatibility and compliance problems you expose yourself to needlessly, turn your attention towards upgrading and leave all these worries behind.

Upgrading to a New OS: It’s Not as Scary as You Think

A lot of business owners think that an operating system upgrade automatically means countless hours of downtime and a tornado of unplanned issues.

Thankfully, those business owners would be wrong.

With the right, well-planned upgrade approach, everything will go smoothly and you’ll be using the latest and greatest that modern IT has to offer before you know it.

It's Your Move

Are you looking for help planning your next Windows upgrade? Terrific – give us a call at 248-825-8215 or click the button below to schedule your Windows 7 Upgrade Planning Session with myself or a team member here at InsideOut Networking and we'll get you set up on the right path to upgrading your machines.

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