Windows 7, originally released in October 2009, has become one of the most popular operating systems used by businesses today.
Within two years of its original release, Microsoft had sold 450 million licenses, making it the fastest selling operating system in Microsoft's history.
Official sales ended in October 2016, but that doesn't necessarily mean businesses have upgraded to newer products. According to some estimates, as much as 45% of the business world is still running Windows 7 machines, a figure that roughly translates to 378 million Windows 7 PCs currently in use around the world. This is important to note, because in just one year Microsoft will cease to provide extended support for the aging operating system.
What is Software Support?
Software support is the means by which software companies create updates for their products to enhance their performance and keep them secure from digital attackers. Oftentimes, major software companies offer to support their products several years after the original release.
Upgrading From Windows 7
In 2020, when Microsoft Extended Support officially ends for Windows 7, companies will be forced to start upgrading to Windows 10. That said, upgrading all of a businesses computers to a new operating system can be a massive undertaking, requiring substantial commitment of time and resources. The challenge of doing so means many businesses will be slow to upgrade to Windows 10. In fact, studies have shown that by the end of 2020, a full third of all business PC will still run the old operating system. The fact that such a high proportion of the world's businesses may end up running an inherently vulnerable operating system represents a grave cybersecurity threat.
How Does This Affect Me?
If you work with a small or midsize business that runs primarily Windows 7-based PCs, then you should consider upgrading to a newer OS sooner rather than later. The cost and pain of switching worsens with the passage of time, especially if your company is in growth-mode. This makes logical sense, if you think about the effort required to upgrade ten PCs versus... say, a hundred.That said, if upgrading now is out of the question for one reason or another, we recommend taking advantage of Microsoft's Extended Security Update (ESU) offer. This is Microsoft's way of offering security updates to those who cannot or will not upgrade in the immediate future. Businesses can pay a fee, based the number of workstations in question, to have Microsoft support Windows 7 machines for up to 3 additional years. We should stress that while ESU plans are expensive, it is better to pay the fee and ensure your OS is still updated against the latest cyber threats.