Windows 7 Support Is Ending and Why You Need to Plan Now

Good ole trusty Windows 7, for most of us was a welcome improvement for Microsoft and the unstable and problematic operating systems prior to it’s release.  Sure it took a little adjustment to get used to the changes, but once we all knew where to find things, Windows 7 was a great improvement for Microsoft.  But with all good things, they must inevitably come to an end to make room for bigger and better things.  So in January of 2020, Microsoft will officially stop supporting Windows 7 after almost a decade.  The End of Support also includes Windows Server 2008 but for most  business users, it takes a seat waaay in the back compared to Windows 7.

So what does this mean for you?

First and foremost, Microsoft has given enough advance notice so that we can all prepare for this change.  However, that does not mean that you should wait until January to start upgrading or replacing… plan now to take care of this before the end of the year and preferably before the end of Q3.

Why do we need to worry about it?

Thats probably one of the most asked questions we get concerning this end of support notice.  Basically what it boils down to is that Microsoft has announced the end of support and that means that after January of 2020, they will no longer be developing and making available any updates to the operating system including any patches that might address security concerns.  So the reason this is critical for anyone still utilizing Windows 7 is that if there are future vulnerabilities in the operating system – which there will be – it will leave your systems unprotected and potentially create a huge liability for you and your organization.  But wait…. my Windows 7 has been fully patched and I run anti-virus so shouldn’t I be OK??  As it stands today yes…. but the real issue comes after January of 2020 when all of the bad guys know that Windows 7 is no longer being updated or patched.  Thats when there is the real likelihood there will be potential vulnerabilities that you will not be able to correct or address.

The next issue is that because the operating system will no longer be updated or patched, many of your credit card and banking institutions will no longer allow you to have those computers with Windows 7 on the network for PCI compliance.  So it could potentially affect your ability to handle banking and credit card transactions until you upgrade..

So what do we need to do?

Can we just upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 to fix this?  The short answer is – possibly.  It really all depends on what hardware your computer has as to whether or not is will be a good candidate for upgrading versus just outright replacing it.  The Official Windows 10 Upgrade Requirements Are Here.  Now… we caution you to take the requirements listed with a grain of salt.  These basically just mean these are the BARE minimums to get Windows 10 to run on the computer.  In reality these are pretty low and if you choose to upgrade a system with these specifications, you will most likely be frustrated with the overall performance.  As a general rule of thumb, we recommend that you double those requirements to get acceptable performance.  Another general rule of thumb is that if it has been 5 years or more since you replaced the hardware you would be better off replacing the computer instead of upgrading it.  We generally like to see business computers replaced every 3-5 years to avoid losing productivity due to poor performance.

Ok…my computer doesn’t meet the specs recommended so do I just order a new one?  Well that is definitely the recommended route to go if your system doesn’t meet the advised requirements.  However there are some additional items you will want to take into account if you need to replace your computer to upgrade to Windows 10.  First of all, if you are going to be using this computer in a business environment, make sure you order or purchase a computer with Windows 10 Professional.  This is crucial if your organization utilizes a domain or Active Directory (basically if you log in to your computer and use the following type of username syntax you are using a domain – “companydomainusername”).  Even if your organization doesn’t utilize a domain, we still recommend purchasing the version with Windows 10 Professional in case you move to a domain, and for the additional security features.  If you would like to see a full comparison of all the features and differences between the Home version and the Professional version – Check this out.  If you end up purchasing the Home version (because it is cheaper or the big box store you are purchasing from doesn’t help identify this) you will have to upgrade the operating system after you get it to the office if you have a domain environment.

The last thing to keep in mind if you are replacing your computer to move to Windows 10 is that you want to do your research.  Don’t just purchase the cheapest machine you can find.  While we certainly respect adherence to a budget, there are some considerations that you will want to factor in to get the total cost of ownership.  One of the biggest items is the support available in the event there is a hardware issue or failure.  Make sure you choose a system that comes with excellent support and hardware warranty.  Trust us on this one… we have dealt with way too many instances of a budget computer that has faulty hardware and support is horrible after you are already frustrated that it failed.

How About Some More Resources

Microsoft Lifecycle and End of Sale/Support

If you are not budgeting for computer replacements every year – check this out!

Microsoft Resources for Windows 7 Users