It’s been all over the news this week that Windows 7 officially reached “end-of-life” on Tuesday. Of course, that doesn’t mean your computer isn’t going to turn on today if you’re running Windows 7. It also doesn’t mean that Microsoft stopped selling Windows 7 this week. They stopped selling retail copies of Windows 7 way back in 2014. Although there are some ways to get it if you really want it. So, what does it mean?
The main impact is that Windows will stop providing security patches to the vast majority of people. While they may make an exception for a security issue so significant that it threatens global networking stability, security holes in end-of-life software mostly remain unpatched. And in a software as prevalent as Windows 7, new security holes will be discovered eventually.
This is a problem because hackers will know that any computers they find running Windows 7 are likely vulnerable to exploits targeting those security holes. While there may be other ways of securing against those vulnerabilities (a well-configured firewall, for instance), it’s generally not a good idea to leave security holes unpatched on a computer. It’s especially bad when they start piling up, which they eventually will.
Technical support is also unavailable from Microsoft after a product reaches end-of-life. This is less of an issue for business users – most users receive their technical assistance from internal IT teams or managed IT service providers. But in cases where those experts need to escalate an issue to the software vendor (Microsoft, in this case), they aren’t going to be ready with an answer.
The only way to get security patches for Windows 7 at this point is through an Extended Security Update license. These can be purchased through 2022, although the annual price increases each year. Really, what Microsoft wants is for you to migrate to Windows 10 – so they can get to a point where they only have to support a single operating system.
If your business still has workstations running Windows 7, it’s not the end of the world. But your network will get less and less secure over time – and if you go long enough without upgrading, there’s a good chance that it will eventually cause major problems for you in one way or another. And if you have a PC running Windows 7, there’s a good chance that it’s old enough to benefit from a replacement anyway. It’s probably time to start planning on how you’re going to replace it!
To learn how WingSwept’s managed IT service offering can help keep your business productive and secure, call us at 919-460-7011 or email us at Team_WingSwept@WingSwept.com.