Windows 7 Exit Strategy

Tue, Mar, 05, 2019 @ 09:03 AM

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All instances of Windows 7, both consumer and professional versions, will cease to receive support from Microsoft on January 14, 2020. 

Windows 7 has been the focus of many discussions in our office recently. Earlier this year Sagiss CTO Jim Lancaster talked about the sheer number of workstations still using Windows 7. Those amount to nearly one-third of the total workstations we manage. That number is right in line with the average of workstations still using Windows 7 nationally. According to Computerworld in January of this year Windows 7 users totaled 37.2% of users in the world.

1-windows-7-logo-webjpgIf your company is still using Windows 7 and doesn’t have a strategy to for migrating off the aging operating system, the time to start planning is now. Luckily, your choices to proceed are straightforward. Keep reading to see which option might best suit your business.  

Option 1: Pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU) 

Even though the free updates that Windows sends out every month will end for Windows 7 in 2020, Microsoft plans to extend service based on a subscription plan for users until 2023. You will continue to receive normal updates charged on a per-device basis 

 

Windows 7 Enterprise 

Windows 7 Pro 

Year 1 (Jan ’20 – Jan ’21) 

$25 per device 

$50 per device 

Year 2 (Jan ’21 – Jan ’22) 

$50 per device 

$100 per device 

Year 3 (Jan ‘2 – Jan’ 23) 

$100 per device 

$200 per device 

Although ESU is an option, it is not one that we recommend. Paying for ESU is not a long-term solution, and it’s not cheap either. The service will only run for 3 years, at which point all Windows 7 support will cease. Support is charged on a per-device basis (see rates chart above). Worse yet, even if you sign on in Year 3, you’ll still have to pay for Years 1 & 2. Unless your company is running systems that will ONLY work with Windows 7, we do not recommend purchasing ESU. Instead, we’d recommend either moving to Windows 10, or migrating to a non-Windows platform such as Linux.   

Option 2: Upgrade to Windows 10 

For the majority of small to midsize businesses, upgrading to Windows 10 will  be your best path forward. Once you’ve assessed compatibility issues, you might as well bite the bullet and upgrade. At this point contacting an MSP and deciding which version of Windows 10 works for you is your best course of action. The advantage to this is, the obvious support from Microsoft, better security and the continued benefit of being able to use your Windows programs in their native operating system. Be mindful that according to our techs, the upgrade from Windows 7 to 10 will take around 2 hours for each workstation. Of course, that is dependent on the computer and speed of internet connection. 

Option 3: Migrate to a Non-Microsoft System 

Perhaps you’d like to ditch Microsoft altogether and move your company to an entirely different platform. Linux Mint, Debian, and Ubuntu are all prime examples of open-source, reputable operating systems. These systems are free to download, in contrast to the annual licensing fees that Microsoft charges for Windows. Furthermore, systems such as Linux come in different flavors, referred to as distros (short for distributions). There are tons of different Linux distros, meaning you can probably find one pre-tailored to your business needs. 

All that said, there are a few drawbacks you ought to be aware of before making the switch. First, you’ll need to find a tech support solution to manage your shiny new Linux-based IT network. These companies aren’t always easy to find. Also, bear in mind that switching to these alternatives means you may have to deal with new third-party software. You’ll also have to find Linux-friendly replacements for essential office apps like Word and Excel.  

Option 4 (but not really): Do Nothing

It is important to note that all of the options above come with their respective growing pains. The most painful option, however, would be to do nothing and simply hope for the best. That is a prayer, not a plan.

Be mindful of what you are setting yourself up for. Without Windows updates, your operating system is stuck with whatever backdoors and bugs that are already in your system. Any vulnerabilities found and exploited by hackers will not be patched. Any third-party software that is updated for Windows 10 and stops working in Windows 7 will not be addressed by Microsoft.   

If you are stuck using the Windows 7 operating system because of a piece of legacy software, then your options are limited but we suggest that you remove those computers from your network, create an air gap (no access to the internet) and quarantine those computers away from all other systems that have access to the outside world. 

Help is Here!

We’ve helped countless organizations successfully and cost-effectively move on from Windows 7.  If you’re confused about your options or need some specific guidance on an exit strategy, contact us today.  

 

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