Unless you have been living under a rock, or you have more important things to do like run your business, you may have heard that Windows 7 comes out of support from Microsoft in January 14, 2020. Fundamentally, this means it will no longer receive updates from Microsoft, particularly security patches to any vulnerabilities discovered after that support expires next year.
Some of you will be familiar with a similar thing happening with Windows XP a few years ago, and now it is time for Windows 7 to follow suit. Windows 7 came out in 2009 and since then we’ve had 3 major Operating System releases with Windows 8, 8.1 and Windows 10, and the end-of-support deadline for Windows 7 presents a few opportunities for your business which will be detailed below.
Purchasing a new device
Probably the most expensive option to move off Windows 7 in terms of capital investment would be to replace any Windows 7 devices in your business with new devices running Windows 10. There are a couple of key benefits to doing this however;
- Improvements in hardware technologies with faster processors, memory and solid-state hard-drives making day-to-day tasks faster to complete.
- Decreases in performance from the old devices over time. Like a car, computers can use a regular service both physically and virtually either from a re-install of the Operating System, defragging the hard-drive and giving the innards a good dust out (without generating electro-static discharge!!!).
- Component life expectancy for things like hard-drives which could lead to data loss if the hard-drive fails with company data not backed up in the cloud or on a server.
Windows 10 was released in 2015 and devices from manufacturers like HP, Toshiba and Microsoft (to name a few) have had licensing for Windows 10 included for some time now (called a Downgrade license). This could be an option if you purchased a device in 2016 or later so check with your IT team or Partner on this.
Purchasing Windows 10
The next option is to purchase Windows 10 Pro for each device that has Windows 7 Pro. The upgrade offer for Windows 7 to Windows 10 expired in 2016, so you’ll need to purchase the full license in order to upgrade from Windows 7 and the RRP is around NZ$419.00 per license for Windows 10 Pro
You’ll still have old hardware which will need to be checked to see if it meets the required system specifications to install Windows 10 first, and you may not get a full return on this investment in licensing.
Moving to Microsoft 365
In my opinion, the best option is to move to Microsoft 365 especially if you are already an Office 365 subscriber. Microsoft 365 Business for example includes Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10 Business - which has more features than Windows 10 Pro - and also has a suite of security services that can protect your employees and your company data.
You’ll need to work with a Microsoft Partner for Microsoft 365 as they will be able to guide you through your requirements and help you decide on the best fit. They’ll also be able to roll out the services in Microsoft 365 with minimal disruption to your business operations during a potentially disruptive process.
Microsoft 365 is a monthly subscription which may be friendlier on your cashflow than purchasing new devices or licensing up front and the value provided by the myriad services included can help your business to be more productive, collaborative and therefore more profitable, while introducing a layer of security to protect your business from harm.
Making a choice
There are a couple of options raised here, so how best to proceed?
- You’ll need to figure out how many Windows 7 devices you have in your business that need to be replaced ideally before January 2020.
- Check your business applications to make sure that they will be compatible with Windows 10 as this may be a reason that you have stayed with Windows 7 thus far.
- Discuss with your IT partner, buy them coffee (IT guys love coffee) and talk through it. You need to understand what Windows 7 End-of-Support means with regards to their Service Agreement with your business, the risks that come with using an out-of-support Operating System if a vulnerability is discovered. If you don’t have a Partner, the Microsoft Solution Provider page can help you.
- Make a plan! This year is racing away and we’re already in April so January 14, 2020 will come sooner than you think so it is imperative that you make a plan. You might wish to spread the purchases or upgrades over time to reduce disruption or impact financially or you may have busier periods throughout the year where it wouldn’t make sense to move to Windows 10.
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