There’s an important date coming up in January that could mean serious data security risks for businesses that haven’t upgraded their Windows 7 computers.
At some point in time, every operating system stops being supported by the manufacturer, and for Windows 7 that date is January 14, 2020. It’s technically called the end of extended support, and generally referred to as end of life (EOL).
Offices that still have desktops or laptops running Windows 7 after the EOL date are basically operating on vulnerable systems that can easily be hacked because there are no security patches being issued any longer.
As a top managed IT provider in San Diego, Excedeo technicians are always looking ahead for any significant events that impact our clients, and the end of life for Windows 7 (and Server 2008) is a big one.
What Happens When an Operating System Reaches EOL?
The Microsoft Lifecycle has three significant dates. The day a product is launched, the day it loses mainstream support, and the day it loses extended support.
Here’s how that lifecycle looks for Windows 7:
- Launch: October 22, 2009
- End of Mainstream Support: January 13, 2015
- End of Extended Support: January 13, 2020
What’s the difference between mainstream and extended support?
Mainstream support includes:
- The ability to request features
- Feature updates
- Security updates
- Free and Paid technical support
Extended support includes:
- Feature updates
- Security updates
- Paid technical support
So, once extended support ends, you lose not only those vital security updates, but also technical support, except for “self-help” (which means anything you can find yourself online).
As of September 2019, there are about 30% of users still using the Windows 7 operating system, less than 4 months before the EOL date. That’s most likely why Microsoft recently added a paid extension for security updates for a limited time, only for Enterprise and Pro versions. But upgrading to Windows 10 is a better option for most businesses.
Important Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10 by January
There are a number of reasons that operating your business on an outdated operating system is a bad idea, the key reason, of course, being the security of your network and data.
Companies running out-of-date operating systems are 3x more likely to suffer a data breach.
While you “technically” could keep using Windows 7 after the EOL date, here are some important reasons you shouldn’t.
Keep Your Data Secure
The biggest issue with using an OS past it’s EOL date is that you’ll no longer be receiving security updates and patches for vulnerabilities. These are vital because they’re written to seal up an entry point that a hacker has found within the code of an operating system.
Without those regular security updates, your business is much more likely to suffer a data breach because hackers will continue to find vulnerabilities. But now those vulnerabilities will no longer be patched, so you’ll have no defense against ransomware, viruses, and data breaches.
One of the largest ransomware attacks recorded is WannaCry, and 98% of the computers infected by the attack were running Windows 7.
Stay Compatible with New Software Updates
As the software you use, like Office 365 or QuickBooks, continue to evolve and go through software updates, you’ll find that your computer will be less able to take advantage of the new features.
Software developers are looking ahead, so they’ll make their software compatible with current and upcoming operating systems, but there’s no reason to keep accommodating an outdated OS.
So, there will come a time when you start noticing you can’t update to the latest version of a software because you’re living in the past as far as your operating system is concerned.
Use the Hardware You Want
Another incompatibility you’ll run into if you keep running Windows 7 is with hardware, like printers, cameras, external hard drives, and even mobile devices that are designed to connect to desktops.
Just like software, hardware will eventually leave an outdated operating system behind, so you’ll have less options when you choose the hardware for your technology infrastructure.
Windows 10 Offers Great Efficiency Upgrades
By sticking with a comfortable, but outdated Windows 7, you and your team end up missing out on the efficiency and security upgrades available in Windows 10. A few of the features that are a big upgrade from the older OS are:
- Cortana for voice commands
- Ability to connect your Android device and text from your computer
- Pro includes a sandbox feature to run unknown programs safely before installing
- Customizable Start menu
- Faster operating speed
- More security features
Book a Free Risk Assessment
Do you have devices running Windows 7 that you need to upgrade? Are you replacing older systems and need help with “loss-free” data migration?
Exedeo has expert IT techs standing by to help you with all your technology needs and to ensure your office is as “tech efficient” as possible.