In less than 3 months Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 / R2 are reaching their end of life. From January 14th 2020 there will be no more free security patches and updates released by Microsoft. As a result, if you keep using Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008/R2 you can be at risk of being exploited by cybercriminals which can be incredibly dangerous for your business or organisation.
This does not mean that Windows 7 suddenly stops working on January 14th, you’ll still be able to use it but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that you are extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats due to the fact it will no longer be patched for new viruses or security problems. If a lot of people continue to use Windows 7 after its end of life date, this is a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses at Windows 7 and its users. Hackers will be ready to pounce on any new vulnerabilities that are discovered, and without the regular updates and patches, you will be at the mercy of them.
The Carnegie Mellon University CERT Division issued a warning to organisations about the deadline stating that: “Mission and business functions supported by systems running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 could experience negative consequences resulting from unpatched vulnerabilities and software bugs. These negative consequences could include the loss of confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, system resources, and business assets.”
Despite being launched over ten years ago, Windows 7 is still incredibly popular with recent reports stating that Windows 7 is still being used on 39% of all PCs. Companies need to start planning to update to Windows 10, or an alternative operating system as soon as possible if they do not want to be put at risk or have to pay out large sums of money on extended security updates.
Microsoft are offering Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) for those who want to continue using Windows 7 after the End of Life date. However, these updates will cost money and are charged on a per device basis, which can get very pricey for a business with numerous PCs. For the first year it will cost around £20 per device. This rises to £40 for year two and £80 for year three. If you are using Windows 7 pro these prices rise even higher with £40 for year one, £80 for year two and £150 for year three. The Extended Security Updates for Windows Server 2008/R2 is about 75% of the on-premises licence cost annually. Although the ESU updates provide ‘important’ and ‘critical’ security updates, they will not provide technical support after the end of life date.
Another issue that can arise with continuing to use Windows 7 is that Independent software vendors and hardware vendors are likely to cease support for it. This means that new hardware/software might not be compatible and manufacturers probably won’t create hardware/software for your out-of-date operating system.
What steps can you take to prepare?
Due to the security risks and the potential high costs involved with staying on the unsupported Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008/R2, the recommended path is to update to the latest version of Windows. To do this you can either:
Replace outdated hardware
Updating all your old hardware to new devices will ensure you have all the latest features with enhanced security. Also, the chances are that computers that are still running Windows 7 are several years old and running slow, so are due for a replacement. When you buy new hardware, you will also get the newest version of the Windows operating system.
Update existing devices to newer software
Migrating your existing computers to a newer operating system can be a cost-effective option if you don’t have the money to buy new hardware. Companies can do an ‘in place’ upgrade for the computers, however some older hardware might not be compatible with the new operating system.
If your business is running on Windows 7, or you need any help updating your software or replacing hardware, contact Halcyon today. Our team of friendly experts will be happy to help find and implement the best solution for your company to ensure your systems stay up and running effectively and securely.
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