Windows 7 is only days away from being officially retired by Microsoft. The software company has done all it can to try to educate users about the end of the OS, which has its last support update on January 14, 2020, but won’t be getting any more. As of this writing there are still nearly 25 percent of computers running Windows 7. Let’s take a look at why it is imperative that you upgrade or find a solution to get out from under the Windows 7 OS.
The first thing you should know is that when the end of life date passes, the software will still be completely functional. It’s not as if it will fail to load on your computer, but what will happen, however, is that it will not get another software patch or update. Over time, this could cause a whole slew of negative situations. Among them, networks that the Windows 7 computer is connected to will not be secure. That could cause some very real problems.
Of course, you could take your Windows 7 systems offline, or quarantine them behind another firewall, but there is nothing you can do that will be safe over a prolonged amount of time. You will be breached and any new vulnerabilities will become large holes in your computing infrastructure. You may not think you can afford to upgrade away from Windows 7, but you sure cannot afford to be left without support from Microsoft.
So What Are the Options?
Currently, you have several options, even now, that can keep your business out of the line of fire, so to speak. These include:
Upgrade systems to Windows 10
This is the obvious one. By upgrading to Windows 10, you are sure to get the security patches and other updates needed to keep your business out of harm’s way. Since the minimum specifications that it takes to run Windows 10 aren’t much more than it takes to run Windows 7, it seems like a solid plan to upgrade if you can. Here are the specs your computer will need:
- Processor – 1 GHZ or faster
- RAM – 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space – 16 GB for 32-bit or 20 GB for 64-bit
- Graphics card – DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display – 800 x 600 resolution
All told, most computers that were running Windows 7 can run Windows 10. Above are the minimum specifications, so if you have a computer with this hardware profile, you shouldn’t expect the Windows 10 OS to run fast. If you are going to go this route, we recommend that every Windows 10 workstation have some type of 2 GHz dual-core processor, 4-to-8 GB of RAM, and at least a 160 GB hard drive.
Replace Hardware Systems
If you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, or if you can get some good terms on a lease, this may be the easiest way to move past Windows 7. You would have all new hardware which would come with Windows 10 installed. It may take some time to configure your new hardware with your line-of-business software, but at least you would get regular Windows 10 updates.
Virtualize and Use a Thin Client
You can repurpose your old hardware to act as thin clients. This may take some capital to do since you would have to virtualize your data and applications, but it might just be an option for your organization. Since you have a severely limited timeline, it may be impossible to ensure that your data is protected before the deadline.
Microsoft is offering a service called Microsoft 365 that could make this transition a little easier. For a flat rate billed per user, you can get Windows 10, Office 365 with a terabyte of OneDrive cloud storage, and dynamic security software that can be accessed through any Internet browser. If you have teams of workers that only need access to productivity software, you could do much worse than this cloud-based option.