Preparing for Windows End of Life
As the end of life for Windows 7 draws near, it is essential to take proactive steps to ensure a smooth transition. Although regular support for Windows 7 ceased in 2015, the extended support period will also conclude in January 2020, leading to the discontinuation of updates and security patches. Being well-informed about the end-of-life (EOL) process is crucial, as there may be work ahead to safeguard your systems and data.
Contrary to the misconception that PCs will stop functioning after Windows 7’s end of life, the software will continue to work. However, the lack of security updates may rapidly compromise the system’s safety, leaving it vulnerable to cyber-attacks and viruses. Reflecting on the case of Windows XP, where Microsoft ended support in 2014, approximately 7% of computers worldwide still use this outdated operating system. Due to security flaws brought about by infrequent patching, these PCs are frequently the target of hackers.
With approximately 70% of businesses globally relying on Windows 7, it is highly likely that action is required before its retirement. To effectively prepare for this transition, consider the following action plan:
- Evaluate the number of systems needing an upgrade:
Take an inventory of all systems running on Windows 7, and if applicable, Windows XP. Systems on Windows 7 with compatible hardware can likely undergo a simple license upgrade.
- Assess your hardware compatibility:
Verify if your hardware supports Windows 10. Collaborate with your IT provider to determine if your hardware meets the required specifications. Typically, hardware released within the last three years should be compatible. Regular hardware upgrades every three to four years can help avoid potential compatibility issues.
- Create a timeline and budget:
Plan the necessary changes over a reasonable timeframe, including up to January 2020. Starting early is recommended to ensure a smooth transition. Consult your IT provider to devise the most suitable path forward.
- Develop contingency plans:
Some line-of-business applications may not immediately function on Windows 10, especially if you use older software or if the provider has reached its own end-of-life cycle. Prepare contingency plans to isolate vulnerable systems or plan the upgrades in advance. A reliable IT company can assist in making informed decisions and setting up test environments to ensure effective contingency plans.
- Provide staff training:
While the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is not as drastic as previous updates, some adjustments are necessary. Allocate time for one-on-one or group training sessions to familiarize your staff with the new system. Your IT provider should be equipped to offer user-based training for Windows 10 and other daily-use software.
Furthermore, keep in mind that Windows 10’s end of life is scheduled for January 2025. During your planning phase, ensure that your devices can accommodate another upgrade in the future or budget accordingly. Documenting the processes during the shift will prove beneficial for future reference.
Above all, taking proactive measures is essential to prevent security vulnerabilities and maintain an up-to-date operating system. Delaying preparations may expose your business to potential security risks. Protect your business by initiating the planning process promptly.