Still Using Windows 7? Here Is What You Need to Keep in Mind

Windows 7 is still being used by many companies, despite it being in 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: Windows 7’s end is near.

On January 14, 2020, all support for Windows 7 ends. 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 your 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 then 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

After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer support computers running Windows 7. Nor will 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. 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.

Your Options

January 14, 2020, is approaching fast. It is a good idea to start planning now instead of waiting to the last minute. 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 will not suddenly stop working after January 14, 2020. The apps will 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 will be sold on a per-device basis, with the price increasing 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.
  • 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.

We can help you make the best choice for your business based on its needs and help you carry out that decision.

Windows 10 Feature Update Is Finally Being Rolled Out to the Masses

Windows 10 photo

Learn how to prepare for this update and how you can control when it reaches your company’s computers.

On January 16, 2019, Microsoft finally started the automatic rollout of the latest feature update for Windows 10. It’s not called the January 2019 Update but rather the October 2018 Update. That’s because this update was initially released back on October 2, 2018. However, less than a week later, Microsoft pulled the plug due to reports of people missing files after it was installed. The software giant fixed the problems and re-released the update on November 13, 2018, but Windows 10 users had to manually initiate the update process.

Now that the October 2018 Update is ready for the masses, it is being dispersed through a phased rollout via Windows Update. It took about 10 weeks for the last feature update to be fully distributed using this method, so it might be awhile before the October 2018 Update reaches your business’s computers.

Things to Do While You Are Waiting

While you are waiting for the update to arrive, it is a good idea to:

  • Make sure that your business’s data is backed up and the backup files can be successfully restored. As the initial launch of the October 2018 Update shows, problems sometimes occur. Having restorable backup files can save the day — not only if an update goes awry but also if ransomware or a natural disaster strikes.
  • Document your computers’ software licenses somewhere other than on the devices being upgraded. That way, you will have the information you need (e.g., product IDs. product keys) if you have to restore any software.
  • Make sure there is enough free space on your company’s computers to accommodate the update. If there is not enough space when the update process starts, you will receive a message from Windows Update. Although the message will guide you through the process of clearing up space, having to stop what you are doing to do so can be a hassle.

What to Do If You Don’t Want to Follow Microsoft’s Schedule

If you do not want to wait for the update to reach your company’s computers, you can manually initiate the update process. One way to do this is to:

  1. Click the Start menu on a Windows 10 computer.
  2. Select the gear icon to open the Settings app.
  3. Choose “Update & Security”.
  4. Select “Check for updates”.

Assuming that the update can be applied, Windows Update will automatically download and install it. You will need to restart the computer several times.

Conversely, you can postpone the October 2018 Update if you do not want it installed during the rollout period. There are several ways to do this, depending on which version of Windows 10 your machines are running. For example, the Windows 10 Professional and Enterprise editions come with several options that let you delay the installation of feature updates up to a year. We can go over your options if you decide to delay the installation of the October 2018 Update.