Microsoft has announced that, effective 14th January 2020, extended support for the Windows 7 operating system will cease.

 

Windows 7 still maintains a significant market share, with a reported 36.9% of users still running the operating system as of December 2018. As of next year, however, the ever-reliable operating system will be retired.

On its support page, Microsoft has produced a consolidated list of products reaching their end-of-life across 2019 and 2020. Aside from Windows 7, Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 are notable inclusions.

What does this mean for you?

Fortunately, you will still be able to use Windows 7, but an unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from the Windows Update tool.

The software patches, which maintain the stability of the Windows platform, also protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can harvest your business’ credentials.

The 2017 WannaCry ransomware outbreak caused major disruption to organisations worldwide, including the NHS, which were still using Windows operating systems that had since passed their end-of-life. It is therefore well-worth planning for the 2020 end date.

Microsoft has announced a paid subscription option for business’ to receive Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through to January 2023, but this is likely to prove an expensive option.

Recommended next steps

Microsoft has committed to supporting Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019 until January 9, 2029, so upgrading your operating systems to the latest version of Windows 10 is the optimum cost versus risk solution. A dedicated Managed Service Provider can help you achieve this with minimal disruption.

The UK Government’s National Cyber Security Centre has compiled an excellent guidance to obsolete platforms security document to provide organisations with five short-term steps to manage risk:

  1. Migrate away from obsolete software.
  2. Apply a short-term mitigation plan.
  3. Apply mitigations to reduce likelihood of compromise.
  4. Deploy effective business continuity and disaster recovery solution.
  5. Review third party access to your business environment.

It is highly recommended to stay up-to-date with the latest Windows software however, as the risks associated with obsolete platforms at an enterprise level often outweigh the upgrade costs.

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