If your business is still running Windows 7, now is the time to consider your next steps.

Since its launch in July 2009, Windows 7 has been one of Microsoft’s most popular operating systems. With an announced date for the end of support set as the 14th of January 2020, what does the future hold for businesses using Windows 7? We take a closer look…

What does ‘end of support’ mean?

The end of standard support and security updates does not necessarily mean the end of Windows 7. Once January arrives, your Windows 7 system will still be operational. However, unsupported versions will no longer receive software updates and perhaps most significantly, security updates. Without support, vulnerabilities remain unpatched meaning your organisation’s PCs will be a target for spyware, harmful viruses and malicious software. With cybercrime an ever present and growing threat to digital technology, being security savvy will help you safeguard and remain in control of your business.

History repeated?

In 2014, we saw Microsoft announce the end of support for Windows XP and, despite the warnings, millions of people continued to use the system. Exploits and vulnerabilities were identified by hackers prior to the end date and only released once this date had passed. As a result, many businesses experienced security breaches causing disruption across the globe.

With vulnerabilities remaining unfixed, malware, such as ransomware, is able to spread more easily. Ransomware locks users out of their PCs and even denies businesses access to data via their company’s network. Access can only be regained once a “fee” has been paid – and the consequences can be commercially devastating.

To avoid this happening again, lessons must be learnt. So, what are the next steps for businesses using Windows 7?

Upgrading to Windows 10

After Windows 8 failed to impress, Microsoft took on board previous criticism to create a more user-friendly platform, offering universal apps and cross-device familiarity. With businesses increasingly promoting mobility in the workforce, the ability to use multiple devices on the same platform enables productivity and a more seamless working experience.

And with cybersecurity high on the agenda for most businesses, Windows 10 is the most secure version to date. With the ability to draw security intelligence from over 1 billion Windows devices and billions of public cloud authentications, Microsoft is becoming an increasingly significant player in enterprise security.

Key security features of Windows 10 include:

  • BitLocker – built-in hard drive encryption
  • Windows Hello – enterprise grade security without having to type a password
  • Device guard – the ability to create a custom list of trusted apps for your business
  • Credential guard – additional security to isolate secrets and passwords
  • Defender smart screen – a reputation check of apps downloaded from the internet
  • S-mode – a version of Windows 10 streamlined further for security, speed and stability

Referred to as ‘Windows-as-a-service’, Windows 10 is being billed as the last intended full operating system, meaning you may never have to buy another version again!

Can’t upgrade yet?

With the deadline looming, if you are unable to upgrade over the next few months, you may want to consider purchasing Extended Security Updates. However, risk managing obsolete platforms such as Windows 7 comes at a cost. As well as security risks, access and functionality will eventually become hindered which may cause a decrease in your business’s productivity. This should only be considered as a last resort.

Looking to the future

It is clear there are costs involved in keeping your systems up to date. With cybercrime on the rise and inevitable to continue, it is better to invest now to avoid paying the price later.

Upgrading to the safest operating system is one of the most effective ways of keeping your network, devices and business secure.

For expert advice on migration to Windows 10 and your wider security strategy, speak to our team on 03330 11 22 55.