Director of Business Tech Optimization, SSD Technology Patners
James has worked in IT for over 25 years. He is focused on Cyber Security and Business Technology Optimization (BTO) for SSD Technology Partners headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. James’ goal is to ensure SSD’s clients secure their environments using practical application of current technologies and raising overall awareness of existing security risks. He also helps organizations identify the most effective technology strategies they should pursue to meet their overall business objectives utilizing existing IT resources. Leading the Custom Development team at SSD allows him the opportunity to ensure business applications are focused on user experiences while maintaining a level of security commonly overlooked when custom software is created.
With the clock ticking towards Windows 7 end-of-life (EOL) on Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft recently announced that it will offer paid Extended Security Updates on a per-device basis through January 2023. The key word here is "paid."
Windows Enterprise and Microsoft 365 customers will have to cough up $25 per device for the first year, $50 per device for the second year, and $100 per device for the third year. Windows 7 Pro customers will pay a whopping $50 per device in the first year, $100 per device in the second year, and $200 per device in the third year. The longer you wait to move on from Windows 7, the more it will cost you for security updates that would be included in a supported operating system.
Without these security patches, organizations that continue to use Windows 7 after EOL would be far more vulnerable to cyberattack. And if they run into any problems, customer support won't be there to bail them out.
Essentially, Microsoft is throwing a lifeline to organizations that haven't started the process of migrating away from Windows 7. And there are plenty of companies that fall into that category. In fact, Windows 7 market share slightly increased to 37.19 percent from December 2018 to January 2019. On the other hand, these fees are expensive for a reason. An offer of extended, high-cost support could be seen as a not-so-subtle push to get organizations to upgrade to Windows 10.
You also have the option to migrate to Linux, Mac or some other operating system. Linux is a free, open-source operating system with a number of distributions to choose from. Mac is known for its high-end design and robust features, which is why you would pay a premium price for switching to Mac. Of course, switching to a new operating system also means learning a new operating system, which could slow down the migration, frustrate end-users and affect productivity.
Your best bet is to upgrade to Windows 10. It's the least-disruptive option because you're still dealing with a Microsoft system, and the most popular business applications will work on Windows 10. If you're afraid of another Windows 8 nightmare, don't be. The layout and functionality of Windows 10 are more similar to Windows 7, so there won't be as much of a learning curve. Windows 10 also offers a number of security features that Windows 7 doesn't have, which will reduce the risk of ransomware attacks and other modern threats.
If you're using older computers, they might not meet the minimum technical specifications for Windows 10 with regards to processor speed, RAM, hard disk space and graphics. However, this would be the ideal time to upgrade to computers that offer better performance and more storage and come with Windows 10 pre-installed.
Keep in mind that it takes many organizations a year to migrate to a new operating system. This isn't a project that you can put off until December. Work with your IT staff or let SSD help you put together a game plan that allows you to seamlessly migrate to Windows 10 and avoid the risk of running an unsupported operating system.