Windows 7 End of Life: Are You Prepared?
It feels like just yesterday we were preparing for Windows XP and Server 2003 end of life. If you haven’t already, now is the time to get a plan in place to migrate off Windows 7 as support will end on January 14, 2020. While 2020 might sound like a long way off, there is still plenty of work to do for organizations to ensure a smooth transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10. So, let’s take a look at what this means for organizations and what they can do.
What Happens at the End of Life?
Every Windows operating system (OS) has two service periods: mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support lasts for several years after an OS is released. During this time, Microsoft releases new features alongside the standard security patches. After this period has expired, the version of Windows enters extended support.
For the next several years, Microsoft continues to release updates (security patches) that keep the OS safe, but it is not actively developing that version of Windows with new features. When extended support ends, that Windows product is essentially dead. Typically, no new updates or patches will be deployed, leaving the systems vulnerable.
How Can Organizations Prepare?
The next year and a half might sound like a long time, but there is a lot to consider for organizations as they get ready to migrate from Windows 7 to a new OS.
Most importantly, it is vital that the applications that organizations utilize to function in the newer OS. There will not be any issues with basic apps like Google Chrome and Microsoft Office. However, issues should be expected with organizations that use proprietary software or legacy applications that are not supported, custom coding / applications, or have not been certified to run on the newer OS. Similarly, older devices such as printers and other peripherals might not work properly with newer OS. This might require organizations to purchase new equipment that is compatible with newer Windows versions.
Also, it is important for users and administrators to become familiar with the new OS. As with every new release system, settings and polices need to be evaluated, changed, and/or implemented. The look and feel of Windows 10 is slightly different from Windows 7. While it is not a drastic change like with Windows 8, some features will take some additional training.
Windows 7 Won’t Be Around Forever
Unfortunately, every version of Windows will have an end of life. While Windows 7 is a stable and familiar OS, eventually Microsoft will stop supporting it in order to focus work on modern products. Organizations and administrators need to take some time now (if they haven’t already) to understand and plan for the transition considering all of the potential impacts of the newer OS in order to avoid major headaches in 2020.
In looking to develop a project plan for the transition to Windows 10, organizations need to properly consider all factors in the replacement.
- Cost (hardware, software, training, support, etc.)
- License requirements
- Administration factors
- Policy (Microsoft store, etc.)
- Deployment – Initial and semi-annual feature releases
- Enhanced security (Encryption, access rights, etc.)
Organizations who have not started the upgrade process or are in the initial phases should setup a pilot group of users in different areas to identify potential issues, prior to deployment to the masses. As with any major change, issues are inevitable and having a plan in place will only assist in overcoming the hurdles.
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