What is EOL Software, and Why Should You Care?

Posted by Jordan Weber on Tue, Apr, 16, 2019 @ 14:04 PM

What you need to know as the Windows 7 end of life and Windows Server 2008 end of life dates approach.

Are you familiar with the term End-of-Life, as it pertains to software? Hopefully so, especially if you’re in the position of managing your company’s IT network. Simply put, End-of-Life (EOL) refers to the point in time when the developer will cease to create updates and patches for that particular piece of software. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why software companies issue end-of-life dates, and why you should seriously consider upgrading your systems before an EOL date arrives.

Every software product has a lifecycle. This cycle begins the day the software is released and ends when the developer decides to stop creating software updates and security patches. You may be asking yourself, why do they stop? Why, for instance, would Microsoft want to cease support for Windows 7, one of its most popular operating systems? As time passes, consumers steadily place greater demands on software. These users want more features, better performance, improved tools, etc. Eventually, the old software becomes incapable of meeting these demands so a new program is created to replace it, much like how a new car model supplants its predecessor.

This type of transition is quite common in the tech industry, and is usually referred to as the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). These cycles may last for many years. Windows Server 2003 received updates for over a decade, until Microsoft killed support for the platform in July 2015. Two current (and widely used) examples are Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, both of which Microsoft will cease to support after January 14, 2020. Any businesses that rely on either of these two programs should already be planning an upgrade to Windows 10, and/or Windows Server 2019, respectively.

You may be be thinking, why should I plan to upgrade? After all, the software still works and I’ve spent a lot of time and effort customizing the platform to suit my business. While we can certainly appreciate that  sentiment,, here’s why you should seriously consider keeping your systems up to date.

Just because Microsoft will cease to provide security updates, doesn’t mean the bad guys aren’t still trying to find vulnerabilities in the operating system. Suppose January 21, 2020 rolls around and a malicious hacker finds an exploitable weakness in the Windows 7 operating system. Since official software support has ended, that weakness will remain unpatched. It also means that this weakness exists on every other Windows 7 machine running at the time. As of January 2019, Windows 7 comprised 34% of all currently running operating systems.

Imagine that a burglar finds a key that unlocked the backdoor to a third of American households, and worse yet, no one can fix it. That’s a great metaphor for the type of risk you run by using software past its end of-life date.

If your business is running Windows Server 2008 and/or Windows 7, we urge you to start planning a migration to a newer software platform as soon as possible. Extended support is available for these products, albeit at a substantial premium.

The upgrade process can feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Over the past two decades, our team has assisted dozens of companies with major overhauls and upgrades to their IT network. If you would like assistance, we’re here to help, and your initial consultation is completely free of charge.

To request a complimentary assessment of your company’s IT network, contact us and one of our expert representatives will reach out with one business day to arrange your consultation.

Topics: End of Life Software, How To DIY Guides