In just over a week, Microsoft is retiring two of its most popular operating systems - although this shouldn’t be news at this point. Microsoft has consistently been reminding Windows 7 users that they need to upgrade before January 14, running a major campaign to do so, but there are still a quarter of all desktop users that haven’t done so.
As the deadline (almost literally) knocks on the door, we thought we’d review, once more, what this means to users and what their options are.
It is important to understand that it isn’t as though you won’t be able to use the software once the support date passes - it’s that you won’t be able to use it securely. Since your software will no longer receive the updates and patches that it depends on, its functionality will decrease over time. Worse, its lack of security means that the computer running it will have a security vulnerability, which in turn means that any network that the computer is connected to will also be insecure.
While there are some means of protecting your network - like isolating your Windows 7 machines so you can still use a certain line-of-business application - you will not be able to completely protect yourself from vulnerabilities without taking these systems entirely offline. With these risks in mind, retiring these systems to protect your business becomes a no-brainer.
You Have a Few Options
Even with the deadline so close, you still have a few options to avoid serious issues. These options include:
Upgrading to Windows 10
While many may be loyal to Windows 7, there is no denying that Windows 10 is the better solution - even if you only consider the security benefits to the switch. Fortunately, Windows 10 doesn’t really need much more to run than Windows 7 does. Here are the minimum specifications your computer should have to properly run Windows 10:
- 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
Now, as these are the minimum specifications, this configuration wouldn’t give you the best performance. We recommend that, instead of following this list precisely, you upgrade to a 2 GHz dual-core processor, between 4-and-8 GB of RAM, and at least a 160 GB hard drive.
Replace Your Hardware Systems
While this is far and away the most expensive option, it is possibly the simplest to exercise considering how little time is left. New hardware comes with Windows 10 installed and includes regular updates to Windows 10, but there is the fact that configuring this new hardware to play nicely with your line-of-business applications could take some time.
Many businesses are electing to use Chromebooks rather than the more traditional Windows workstations. While this may be a more cost-effective option, it can be a hassle in other ways. All of your line-of-business applications would need to be virtualized, and the need for Internet access could create productivity hang-ups. While this approach might ultimately work got your business and IT alike, it isn’t a cheap approach to implement.
Speaking of Virtualization, Use a Thin Client
This is very similar to the Chromebook option. However, instead of purchasing new hardware, you are repurposing your old hardware to operate as a thin client. While virtualization has proven itself to be a solid option for businesses, it may not be practicable with so little time left to put it in action.
However, there is a service that could make this transition simpler. Microsoft has a service called Microsoft 365 that provides Windows 10, Office 365, a terabyte of OneDrive storage, and security software, on a flat-rate, per-user basis. If many of your employees only require productivity software, this may be a good option for you.
No matter what you choose, you need to act fast to avoid issues after Windows 7 is retired. Heart of Texas Network Consultants and our IT professionals are here to help. We can assess your situation, come up with a plan, and upgrade you away from Windows 7. Call (254) 848-7100 to learn more.