The deadline has come and gone—on Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft officially ended support for the Windows 7 operating system. The company will no longer provide bug fixes, critical security patches, updates, or other support.1
Considering the number of PCs worldwide still running Windows 7 or older versions—about 200 million or 1 in 5 PCs, according to estimates from ZDNet’s Ed Bott2—the conclusion of Windows 7 mainstream support should be cause for concern. Here’s why:
- Security: Now that the support deadline has
passed, if a new software bug or security vulnerability is discovered in Windows
7, Microsoft is no longer required to release a patch to fix the issue on the unsupported
operating system. The result: Companies still using Windows 7 are at greater risk
of cyberattacks, hacking and malware.
- Functionality: Companies using Office 365
ProPlus on Windows 7 will continue to receive security updates, but will not receive
Office feature updates as long as their devices remain on Windows 7. Think about
the number of improvements
and new feature announcements that were made at Microsoft’s Ignite 2019 conference—companies
still running Windows 7 will not be able to take advantage of many of them.
- Keeping up with the competition: Sticking
with Windows 7 and sacrificing security and functionality creates a ripple effect.
An organization’s ability to compete can be diminished—most notably in terms of
attracting and retaining both employees and customers.
Considering the number of PCs worldwide still running Windows 7 or older versions—about 200 million, according to some estimates—the conclusion of Windows 7 mainstream support should be cause for concern.
OS migrations are always complicated efforts, but moving to Windows 10 is different. Windows 10 marks the beginning of a new servicing model, “Windows as a service,” which provides security and reliability fixes at least once a month, plus smaller feature updates two times per year. Here are some of the considerations:
- Choosing releases and managing update cycles. Among the key first steps in a Windows 10 migration is gaining a solid understanding of “Windows as a service,” which requires organizations to change the way they approach deploying updates. It will take time and help from experts for business leaders to determine what works best for their organization—and to learn how servicing branches, deployment rings, feature updates, quality updates, out-of-band updates, Patch Tuesdays, and B, C, and D releases all work together. In response to public requests, Microsoft published a primer on its monthly Windows 10 quality update servicing cadence and terminology.
- Testing, running pilots, and gathering feedback. Ensuring the applications people rely on are compatible with the new version is critical. In previous Windows versions, this kind of testing was one-and-done. With continuous servicing of Windows 10, it will be an ongoing process.
- Staying user-focused throughout the process. Communication, training and support are critical to ensuring Windows 10 migration success—before, during and after the migration and updates. Business leaders must let employees know what changes are planned and when they will roll out, how Windows 10 could change their work processes, and where they can get training and support. Notable differences between Windows 7 and Windows 10 include the return of the Start menu, the new Microsoft Edge browser, and numerous changes to settings.
Migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is a major undertaking—planning
rollouts, running pilots and testing, deploying the new OS, and training users can
take six months to a year to complete. Proper planning, including finding a migration
partner to accelerate the process, is critical to project success. Organizations
must take action now.
companies that have not yet migrated, Microsoft offers a “last-resort” option, which
will provide paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January
2023 on a per-device basis, with the price increasing each year. Windows 7
ESUs will be available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise users
with volume-licensing agreements, and will be discounted for users with Windows
Software Assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education
subscriptions. ESU are also available for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server
2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008 R2. ESU are not available for
Office 2010. See: “Frequently
asked questions about the end of support for Windows 7.”
a Jan. 7, 2020, article, ZDNet’s Ed Bott examines Windows usage stats from the
US government’s Digital Analytics Program,
Microsoft, Gartner, and others. Bott estimates that roughly 200 million PCs
worldwide are still running older Windows versions, mostly Windows 7—which
lines up with the government’s website traffic estimate that nearly 1 in 5 visitors
who use PCs are running Windows 7. See: “It's
2020: How many PCs are still running Windows 7?” by Ed Bott, Jan. 7, 2020,