Microsoft has changed its business model and has discontinued Windows builds in favor of becoming a Software as a Service (SaaS) business. Now, customers buy a license for the singular Windows 10 build, instead of Windows 7. Then, that build is updated without further charge.
Discontinuing Windows 7 Support
On January 14, users of Windows 7 (currently on “extended support”) received the same treatment as users of Windows XP and other earlier versions of Windows, the end of Microsoft update support. That means users will no longer receive security updates for the Windows security applications. Among other things, this means that the anti-virus protection in Windows 7 will no longer be upgraded. Windows Server 2008 got the boot on the same day.
Gradually, the software manufacturers who update and support download applications will stop their support as well. Usually, when Microsoft drops support, the operating system is regarded as out-dated and third-party support should be ended. Usually, all third-party software will drop support within two years. For example, Windows XP last Microsoft support on April 8, 2014. By 2016, the Chrome browser dropped its support, The Mozilla browser stopped its support in June 2018.
The hardware and peripherals built into the computer require regularly updated drivers to function in the regularly changing internet. This includes the central processor (the CPU) itself. Hardware manufacturers will very quickly start discontinuing updates for their driver software. Once the support for the operating system and the hardware drivers are discontinued the computer will be useful only for running software that came with the computer and runs without hardware or on-line inputs.
Although the end of life for Windows 7 has been a well-known fact, according to web analytics the actual usage of Windows 7 has not rapidly decreased. The market share for Windows 7 increased over January 2019 from 36.9 percent to 37.19 percent. As of December 2019, Windows:
- 10 has a 40.9% market share.
- 7 has a 37.2% market share.
- XP has a market share of 2.76%.
Clearly, Windows users have not abandoned Windows 7 like lemmings. The danger is that if an unsupported operating system maintains a large base of users and these users begin to be victims of large scale malware. In the weeks after Windows XP was left unsecured, thousands of PCs were invaded with WannaCry malware in 2017. At that time Microsoft had to issue a special patch to Windows XP users to protect them from WannCry to prevent the problem from becoming very costly. Further, according to TechRadar.com, as of the Summer of 2019, 75 percent of hospitals in the British National Healthcare System (NHS) continued to use Windows 7. The British Government was one of the most prominent victims of the WannaCry outbreak which cost them an estimated 92 million British pounds. Thus, the NHS is making a rapid transition to Windows 10.
If You Are Using Windows 7 Now What Can you Do?
Upgrade to Windows 10. Many experts point to ways of upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1. Most of the ways involve cost (but some supposedly do not). The upgrade requires the latest version of the current operating system. For Windows 7 you will need “Windows 7 service package 1.” You can upgrade to this version at this link. You will also need a valid Windows product key. For individual upgrades, the cost of an upgrade will range between $139 or $150 per license and up. Volume license product keys can be obtained through the Microsoft “Key Management Service”.
Extending Your Use of Windows 7 by Purchasing Extended Security Updates.
Many businesses have come to rely on Windows 7 for critical processing. Making the switch to the supported Windows 10 system could mean business chaos, albeit temporary chaos. Microsoft offers extended security update (ESU) support for Windows 7 (Professional or Enterprise versions only). This extended support will last through 2023, giving users three years to carry out the upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has relaxed its previous requirement that limited the extended support program to purchasers who originally acquired Windows 7 with volume licensing. Now any user can get extended support by partnering with a Cloud Service Provider (CSP). IMPORTANT: Agile IT ONLY offers ESUs when bundled with a Windows 10 upgrade project for CSP licensing clients. If you are looking for ESU’s please contact your licensing provider.
Running Windows 10 in the Cloud
Rather than purchasing licenses for Windows 10 and replacing Windows 7 immediately, some users can benefit from using virtual computers set up on cloud server systems to run Windows 10 as well as Windows 7.
Using unsupported software may become a compliance issue because of the risk of major malware outbreaks on the internet. Cybersecurity is of deep concern because instances of malware disruption have been shown to present risks to healthcare, financial transactions, and vital civil functions. Businesses who are unable to manage their own software upgrades need to remain compliant can benefit from moving to cloud-based software to prevent being vulnerable to uncompliant use of outdated software.
Going to Alternatives to Windows Software
You might invest in machines using a different operating system. Some companies have migrated to the Apple system. Apple (IOS) upgrades are free but they require that users take action to install them. Under certain business circumstances the Chromebook, running on the Chrome operating system (an Android system) rather than Windows can be a satisfactory replacement. The Android operating system is the most widely used operating system in the world, the system used by the majority of smartphones and tablets. Further, the operating system depends on the internet, using storage and software from the web.
Linux is a less popular option, but you can install Linux on your present computer with minimal cost. This is an open architecture system, not owned by any particular company and community updatable and improved. Technically minded people have been opting for the open-source Linux operating system. For older machines that need a fully-featured operating system, Linux Mint is a common choice. It is important to note that the desktop versions of Microsoft Office are not available on Linux.
The end of the short-lived Windows build marketing system ends a long train of security support discontinuations. Each time security upgrade support for an old Windows build was discontinued, new malware outbreaks occurred and legal compliance became an issue. Upgrading to the final and permanent version of Windows will ultimately reduce the risk of malware and provide stability and uniformity to business computing. Further, there are several options for migration to Windows 10. Teaming with a cloud service provider can make the navigation of the compliance and upgrade maze easier. Agile IT can help, leveraging Microsoft Endpoint Manager to make Windows 10 deployments and management much easier.
Agile IT is a cloud-first managed services company rated one of the top 100 Cloud Computing Solutions Providers. A four-time Microsoft Cloud Partner of the Year, we offer flexible, best-in-class cloud managed services that go beyond the IT department. Please contact us to learn more.