With any luck, hearing that Microsoft is calling it quits on two of its most popular operating systems is old news. After all, Microsoft has been reminding Windows 7 users that January 14 is their end of support date, and that they really need to upgrade… but about 25 percent of Windows 7 users haven’t.
With the deadline to update looming, we wanted to provide a brief refresher on what end of support actually is, what effects it can have, and what you can do about it.
First, let’s review what the term “end of support” signifies. Out-of-support software (in our case, Windows 7) is usually completely usable - it just isn’t maintained, at all, by the developer. This includes security measures and patches. It is due to this that the out-of-support software becomes too risky to use, as any threats developed after the end-of-support date will effectively have no resistance from the software. Resultantly, the software degrades in functionality, and any computer running it can be vulnerable, and in turn, any network that the computer is a part of is also made vulnerable.
Now, there are ways to help protect your network without upgrading, but these really only apply to specific use cases. For example, you may still use a line-of-business application that only runs on Windows 7, as long as you have isolated a Windows 7 device to do so. Even then, you aren’t completely resolving your vulnerabilities, unless the device operates completely offline.
There are other, better options for you to consider.
Personal preference aside, Windows 10 is a superior option to Windows 7, solely on the basis of its improved security. It also doesn’t require much more of your computer to run, as its minimum specifications are as such:
Of course, since these are the minimum specifications, this doesn’t mean you’ll have an ideal Windows 10 experience. We suggest utilizing a 2 Ghz dual-core processor, between 4 and 8 GB of RAM, and having at least 160 GB of hard drive space.
Is this option cheap? It is not - but it is an inarguably effective way to make sure you are using Windows 10. You will also find that regular updates are included, but you will have to invest some time to configure everything properly.
Instead of investing in Windows-powered devices when an employee simply doesn’t need that much capability to do their job, many businesses have outfitted their staff members with Chromebooks. Besides the initial investment to purchase these devices, it is an undeniably smaller investment than some of your other options… although you will need to factor in the cost of virtualizing your line-of-business applications, and account for the risk of Internet loss rendering your Chromebooks ineffective.
Rather than purchasing new hardware and switching operating systems, you could always repurpose your old hardware to serve as thin clients, virtualizing your solutions. Be warned - with the deadline being so close, this may no longer be a viable option without taking significant risks.
There is also the option to use Microsoft 365. Offering Windows 10, Office 365, OneDrive with a terabyte of storage, and full security for a predictable monthly flat rate per user, Microsoft 365 serves as a solid option for your employees who primarily use productivity software.
Let the experts at Citara Systems help you make your decision. We can come up with a strategy to help you upgrade and assist you in enacting it. To learn more, reach out to us at (508) 532-0837.