Last Tuesday (14th January) was a momentous day in the computing world when support for Windows 7 ended. For most organisations this was old news, they had already enrolled in Microsoft 365 or upgraded to Windows 10.
However, a few organisations currently using Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise somehow missed (ignored) the notifications and are now scratching their heads wondering how this news affects them. Here we provide a quick overview of what end of support means, and explore what to do next.
End of Support for Windows 7 – what to do if you missed the memo
Don’t panic! Support has ended but that doesn’t mean all your Windows 7 PCs have stopped working, have they? If you’re reading this blog post on a Windows 7 enabled desktop you properly haven’t noticed any difference to performance or functionality from this time last month.
However, what it does mean is if you do have a problem no technical support is available from Microsoft; and no patches or fixes will be issued for any problems with the tech.
Security risks have increased. As well as technical support ending, security updates and bug fixes have also stopped and that now means your organisation’s devices and IT systems have a higher risk level. Currently it might not be any higher than last month, especially if you have deployed the most recent critical security patch issues on the final Patch Tuesday last week.
But from now on, should someone find a new vulnerability, you’re on your own (almost.) Without scaremongering, it follows that some people might deliberately target organisations still using Windows 7 with viruses and malware as they’re more vulnerable to new threats.
For this reason we would recommend that you move fast to secure your IT systems by enrolling in Microsoft 365 or directly upgrading to Windows 10.
Stay safe even if you can’t transition from Windows 7
However, if you can’t move that fast and aren’t in a position to transition from Windows 7 fully, there are other options:
Windows Virtual Desktop in Azure: this is a cloud based service that provides a multi-user Windows 10 experience and is optimised for Office 365 ProPlus. It also includes Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) for on-premise servers and desktops until 2023 – buying you a little more time to transition fully from Windows 7.
Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU): Microsoft is clear that this is a last resort option for organisations that need more time and can’t use a virtualisation solution (Windows Virtual Desktop). This is a standalone extended security licence for 3 years and is available for Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008 R2. ESU are not available for Office 2010. ESU are only available through volume licensing programmes, via a Cloud Solution Partner. More details about how to do this can be found here.
Ultimately, if your organisation is still using Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Enterprise you need to transition to another solution. But you can buy yourself a little more time and migrate to Microsoft 365 or upgrade to Windows 10 without unnecessary panic.
If your organisation is in this position it’s the perfect opportunity to explore digital transformation and put a robust strategy in place. First make sure you’ve protected your Windows 7 devices and servers using one of the options above, then book a cloud consultation call with a trusted CSP to discuss next steps.