Support for Windows 7 ends at the start of next year, but what do you need to do to prepare?

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced that their support for the Windows 7 operating system would end as of January 14th 2020, after their 10 year commitment to supporting it comes to an end. This doesn’t mean that suddenly your PC will stop booting up, but it does mean that there will be no further fixes for bugs or security patches released, posing a significant risk to anyone using the OS after this date. 

Who Will Be Affected?

Windows 7 is still a very popular operating system, with 36% of PCs (mainly in corporate environments) still running it, equating to hundreds of millions of people being affected. No matter how much Microsoft try to migrate users to a new operating system, it’s inevitable that a high number of users will stay put on Windows 7. It’s important to note that the cut-off date applies to all Windows 7 versions like Home and Pro.

There is an issue, as it is not uncommon for hackers to wait until a piece of software reaches its end of life before exploiting vulnerabilities. Something with as many users as Windows 7 is highly likely to be a target, no matter how many last minute patches and preparations Microsoft release. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Migrating to Windows 10

First of all, you should consider upgrading your operating system to one that is currently being supported. We recommend Windows 10. Due to the fact Windows 10 is also a Microsoft product, the upgrade process is relatively straight forward and you should be able to keep most, if not all, of your settings and files. The user interface is also very similar to Windows 7, meaning you should be able to adapt to the new look and layout with ease. Moving to Windows 10 provides the least amount of disruption when going through the upgrade.

While the process is simple, you should also take precautions by backing up your important files and documents in the unlikely event that something does go wrong. This may involve copying files to an external hard drive, or if you have multiple PCs, backing up to a cloud storage service or remote server.

How To Upgrade to Windows 10

You will need to buy a Windows 10 licence in order to upgrade, which could become quite costly, and if you have an older machine, there may be certain limitations when running the new OS. It could be tempting to go for Windows 8 as a cheaper solution, but this could also become unsupported in 2023, meaning that you will need to upgrade then. Some businesses were in the habit of deploying downgraded hardware, which may have actually been licensed for Windows 10, even though they are currently running Windows 7. This means you may be eligible to upgrade to Windows 10 at no extra cost. A good way to check if you have a digital licence (which is tied to the motherboard and licences Windows 8 and Windows 10) is to check the OEM sticker on the device…

Windows 10 upgrade.JPG

If you have a sticker that looks like those in example A, then you will need to pay to upgrade to Windows 10. IF you have a sticker that matches those in example B, then you should be able to upgrade at no extra cost.

If you would like help in upgrading your company’s PC operating systems, or assessing the suitability of your IT, please get in touch. We have helped countless organisations get the right IT support they need and would love to help you reach the best solution.