Windows 7 is still being used by many companies, despite 2020 being its final year of life. If your business is running this software, here is what you need to consider.
Many companies have not upgraded their computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The reasons why vary. For example, some businesses have not moved to Windows 10 because it is incompatible with their existing business apps or processes. Others have not switched because their existing hardware will not support Windows 10. While these are legitimate reasons for not upgrading, there is a new factor that needs to be considered: the end of Windows 7.
On January 14, 2020, all support for Windows 7 ended. Using Windows 7 after this date can be risky because Microsoft will no longer provide free security updates or product support. If the computers in your company are still running this operating system software, here is what you need to consider.
NO FREE SECURITY UPDATES
After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide free updates to fix newly discovered security vulnerabilities in Windows 7. Similarly, it will no longer provide free security updates to Internet Explorer web browsers running on Windows 7 machines. According to Microsoft, Internet Explorer is a component of the Windows operating system, so it follows Windows 7’s lifecycle policy.
This means that any Windows 7 computers and the Internet Explorer browsers installed on them will not be protected against cyberattacks exploiting newly discovered security vulnerabilities. As a result, your business will be at greater risk of data breaches, ransomware, and other types of cybercrime. To make matters worse, hackers often keep track of when vendors stop supporting popular apps. They wait to launch new cyberattacks that target those apps once the support has ended.
There is another less obvious risk associated with using unpatched software. Since you cannot protect your Windows 7 computers from new cyberattacks, your company might not be compliant with regulations that govern the protection of sensitive data. Noncompliance can result in penalties, higher costs, and even lost business.
NO PRODUCT SUPPORT
As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft no longer supports computers running Windows 7. Nor does it support Internet Explorer browsers running on Windows 7 machines. This means that Microsoft will no longer answer any technical questions or help troubleshoot any problems you may be experiencing. The only Microsoft resources that will be available are articles, webcasts, and other free online content that the company has posted about the software in the past.
Here are your main options if your business is still running Windows 7:
- Continue to use Windows 7 without any security updates or support. Windows 7 and Internet Explorer have obviously not stopped working since January 14th, 2020. The apps still work, so you can keep using them. However, doing so leaves your business at greater risk of cyberattacks.
- Purchase Extended Security Updates. In September 2018, Microsoft announced that it will offer Extended Security Updates for Windows 7 (which will include updates for Internet Explorer) through January 2023. The Extended Security Updates are sold on a per-device basis, with the price increasing exponentially each year. These updates will be available for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers that have volume licensing agreements.
- Upgrade to Windows 10. By moving to Windows 10, you will have free security updates, feature updates, and product support. If you subscribe to Microsoft 365 Business and your computers are running Windows 7 Professional, you can upgrade at no additional cost if your hardware will support it.
- Switch to a different operating system. If you do not want to use Windows 10, you can switch to a different operating system, such as Apple macOS.
Cardinal Technology Solutions can help you make the best choice for your business based on its unique needs. Our techs are certified in Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems as well as Windows Server and macOS systems. If you are ready to upgrade your company’s software, contact us today for comprehensive IT support that will make your life a little easier and your data a lot safer.