Microsoft ended mainstream support for Windows 7 in January 2015, with extended support running till 14 January 2020. As of January 2019, 37 percent of computers continue to use Windows 7 while 41 percent have moved on to Windows 10. In a 2018 survey, 43 percent of IT professionals said that their company is still running Windows 7 to some extent. That same survey found that 17 percent of businesses were not even aware that support was ending. Above all, there is a significant presence of Windows 7 out there in the world, and that poses a security threat for many organizations
What happens when windows 7 support ends?
This End of Life means no more bug-fixes, security patches or new functionality, making any user-personal or enterprise – significantly more susceptible to malware attacks. Using an unsupported operating system poses serious security risks. Hackers and other criminals in the cyber community will target Windows 7 machines as new vulnerabilities are discovered.
Applying Patches is vital and essentially a risk management practice.
The global malware outbreaks of WannaCry and NotPetya wreaked havoc on companies and organizations all over the world throughout the middle of 2017 by taking advantage of the well-known exploit called EternalBlue. This vulnerability was so severe that Microsoft released a patch even though extended support had reached its end of life years beforehand. Unfortunately, the patch required a manual update, and to this day, many unpatched XP machines run in a highly vulnerable state. In summary, non-supported operating systems like Windows XP or Windows 7 are vulnerable to exploits by dangerous cyber criminals.
Did You Know?
Report says 85% of exploits have had a patch available for more than one year and 74% of organizations take 3 months to apply a patch.
Can you still use Windows 7 After End Of Support?
Yes, you can continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer received software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.
How to Prepare for Windows 7 End Of Life.
1. Buy new hardware.
This is the simplest option, though not the cheapest. New computers automatically will come with Windows 10, which solves the problem altogether.
As a bonus you’ll have faster, more efficient, and more secure hardware in addition to ongoing Windows 10 support. With Black Friday coming up, it may be the perfect time to go shopping.
2. Upgrade your OS to Windows 10.
If you can’t afford all new computers across your business, you can purchase a Windows 10 software license and upgrade your existing computers’ operating systems.
If you are a larger company purchasing Windows 10 licenses in bulk, Microsoft will help you upgrade your equipment with its FastTrack program.
If you’re looking to upgrade just a couple of computers, Microsoft offers a guide to help users through the upgrade process.Businesses using Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 Pro can get a free Windows 10 upgrade for all their machines if they move to Microsoft 365 Business subscription.
Minimum Requirements for Windows 10 PC.
|Processor:||1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or System on a Chip (SoC)|
|RAM:||1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit|
|Hard drive space:||16 GB for 32-bit OS 32 GB for 64-bit OS|
|Graphics card:||DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver|
3. Purchase Microsoft’s Extended Support.
This option is available only to users running Windows 7 Professional or Enterprise through volume licensing. A single-person e-business won’t be able to take advantage of this offer.
If you fall into this category, though, you can contact Microsoft to purchase up to three years of extended support for $50 to $100 per device the first year, with the price doubling each subsequent year.
4. Move to Windows Virtual Desktop.
Microsoft offers free Windows 7 support for Windows Virtual Desktop, which runs through Azure cloud. This option reduces hardware costs and gives you more time to switch to Windows 10.
5. Mitigate the Risk.
The fact is some people may not have the means to do any of the above options. If that’s the case for you, do everything you can to mitigate the risks. Isolate the outdated computers in question from the rest of your systems and keep them offline if possible.
Create reliable backups daily and isolate them from the rest of your IT systems. Practice good cybersecurity behaviors and upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible.
Ultimately, only upgrading to Windows 10 and installing security patches immediately will give you the most reliable protection against cyberthreats. Don’t become a victim. Close the door on cybercriminals and keep your business safe.