Windows 7 and Server 2008: The Retirement Party is Planned

After a decade as the world’s most popular operating system, Windows 7 is headed into retirement. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will end support for the operating platform that dominated the industry for the last ten years. For those still relying on Windows 7, it has been a good run, but it is time to embrace the future.

This likely isn’t the first notification you’ve received on the Windows 7 end-of-life (EOL) date. For the last several years, Microsoft has worked to encourage users to upgrade with free offers and ominous warnings about catastrophe for those that waited. With less than a year left, Microsoft announced in a blog earlier this spring that it would begin reminding Windows 7 users through pop-ups that in less than a year, the operating system would no longer be receiving updates. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, nearly 26% of North American Windows users are still on Windows 7 according to Statcounter.

Windows 7 isn’t the only beloved Microsoft product headed into the sunset next January. Extended support for Windows Server 2008 and R2 also ends January 14, 2020. If you are on the 2008 version of SQL server, you have even less time with July 19, 2019, as the cutoff date. After these milestone dates, you'll no longer receive bug fixes, security updates, or critical patches.

Wondering if you can live without those updates? The short answer is no. There is never an end to the discovery of vulnerabilities or issues caused by new elements being added to the network environment. You need these issues fixed and fast. Ignoring a known issue is an invitation for cybercrime and business disruption. Security isn’t the only reason to avoid running EOL software. Here are five other reasons to upgrade now.

  1. Software incompatibility: New applications are developed for the most recent operating systems. Feature updates and service packages for Windows 7 ended in January 2015. At some point, you won’t be able to use modern applications with Windows 7.
  2. Compliance issues: If your business handles sensitive customer data, you understand the importance of mandatory compliance reporting. Relying on an operating system that is no longer receiving security update could expose your company to cybercrime and significant compliance violations.
  3. Operating costs: Delaying a software upgrade doesn’t necessarily pause spend. Windows 7 is nearly ten years old, and many computers that are running this system are limping along. In the four years since Microsoft stopped providing feature updates, technology has progressed dramatically. Maintaining older computer hardware can require a meaningful time investment that racks up significant costs.
  4. Poor performance and reliability: With the end of the Microsoft extended support period, typical problems that manifest will no longer be addressed in scale. If your business encounters a problem – you are on your own. Additionally, the hardware your Windows 7 system is running on is probably a bit dated by internet years. The combination of an EOL operating system and older hardware can result in frustrating performance.
  5. Decreased productivity: Your team has enough to do without chasing down obscure errors on older machines. You also don’t want everything else pushed to the back burner while the entire company freezes due to a security breach targeted a new known Windows 7 vulnerability. Avoidable headache hurt the most.

While these are all compelling reasons to take the leap onto Windows 10, security remains the biggest driver. Windows 10 includes malware and ransomware protection that wasn't previously available in Windows 7. Windows Defender Exploit Guard and Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection add critical new security functionality to thwart cyber criminals. New cybersecurity tools and the end of Windows 7 security updates gives Windows 10 a clear and vital security advantage. You can take that protect to the next level by adding BlackPoint’s Advanced Security Services for a truly protected environment. 

The same security concerns also apply to the upgrade for Windows Server 2008 and R2. Leaving your server unprotected can easily result in disaster. Don’t risk it!

The first step in any IT journey starts with an assessment. It is essential to understand not only the viability of the hardware in your network but also options for the future. The path forward likely has several different routes. When you need a trusted, vendor agnostic partner to help you find the right answer for your business, Blackpoint IT is here. Learn more about our assessment services.

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