Tick tock, tick tock. The clock is ticking. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 are reaching their end of life (EOL) in less than five months. What does this mean for you as an individual or as a business?
It means that there will be no free security patches and updates released by Microsoft. It means that if you keep using Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008/R2, you will be completely exposed to serious hacker attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your system and inflicting a host of other business-crippling problems you do NOT want to have to deal with. It means your company needs to put in the effort, starting now, for a smooth transition to a supported version of the OS- Windows 10 for desktops and laptops.
This is such a serious threat that all companies housing financial and medical information are being required by law to upgrade any and all computer systems running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 because firewalls and anti-virus software will NOT be sufficient to completely protect them (or you).
What About Extended Security Updates?
After a lot of customer insistence, Microsoft is offering Windows Extended Security Updates (ESU) starting in January, 2020, but at a cost. Customers can purchase Windows ESUs on a per-device basis until January 2023. In the first year, January 2020 to January 2021, Windows 7 Enterprise updates will cost $25 per device, in the second year, $50 per device, and in the third year $100 per device. The cost is twice as high for the Windows 7 Professional edition. With the price per device doubling every year, this can quickly get expensive for companies.
Another option is Windows Virtual Desktop on Azure. Customers who use Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 products and services can migrate to Microsoft Azure to take advantage of 3 additional years of Critical and Important security updates at no additional charge and modernize when ready. For environments other than Azure, Microsoft recommends customers upgrade to the latest version before the deadline. For customers who cannot meet the end-of-support deadline may purchase Extended Security Updates to keep server workloads protected until they upgrade. The ESU program is also available for Windows Server 2008/R2. The price is about 75% of the on-premises license cost annually and some restrictions apply.
The Microsoft ESU program provides “important” and “critical” security updates, but not technical support after the EOL date.
What if You Continue to Use Windows 7?
Everyday, new software vulnerabilities are uncovered and new malware is created by cybercriminals. Once Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 support ends, you can be sure that hackers will be ready to pounce on any new vulnerabilities that are discovered. Without regular OS updates and patches, you will be at the mercy of the cybercriminals.
You can continue using Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 after January 2020, but at your own risk (unless you pay for extended security updates). The main reason you might do this is because you have a legacy application that won’t run on the new operating system. In this case, you’ll want to minimize the number of devices that you keep on the EOL Windows platform and discuss cybersecurity options with an expert (us).
Prepare Now for the Inevitable Migration
Considering the security risks and potentially high costs involved with staying on an unsupported OS, migrating to the latest version of Windows is the recommended path for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 users.
- Replace outdated hardware
Moving to a new device ensures that you have the latest features with enhanced security and performance. Also, computers that are running Windows 7 are probably several years old and are due for replacement anyways. With the new hardware you will also get the new version of the Windows operating system- Windows 10.
- Migrate existing devices to Windows 10
Migrating Windows 7 computers to Windows 10 is a cost-effective option. Companies can do an “in-place upgrade” for their desktops and laptops in many cases. However, Microsoft warns that there is no direct path to upgrade from Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2016 and beyond. First, you will need to upgrade to Windows Server 2012 and then to Windows Server 2016 and so on. Also, some older hardware might not be compatible with the new operating system. So, you (or a qualified professional, i.e. us) will need to assess which systems to be replaced and which to be migrated.
Overwhelmed with the task of migrating hundreds of devices to Windows 10? Let us help! Stay ahead of the threats and begin your Windows 10 migration journey today. Unless you don’t care about cyber criminals running rampant in your company’s server. And while January 14, 2020 may seem like a ways off today, updating an IT infrastructure is a large task that takes considerable time. It’s important you take action NOW, before it’s too late.
P.S. — If you are uncertain as to whether or not you have computers and servers with the Windows 7 operating system or Windows Server 2008 R2 installed, give us a call.