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Out with the Old: What to do with windows 7

By Doug MacKay - May 08, 2019

The time has come. If you've been dragging your feet on Windows 10 migration, you may want to pick up the pace. Even though many home users made the switch to Windows 10 years ago, a recent report from Gartner predicts that only 75 percent of professional PCs will be running Windows 10 by 2021 – despite Microsoft ending support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Gartner’s Ranjit Atwal claims, "By moving the Windows 10 migration to 2020, organizations increase the risk of remaining on an unsupported operating system.”

What Happens if You Stay on Windows 7

Despite the potential risks, many businesses are choosing to procrastinate on upgrades. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts a “sizable” number of Windows 10 migration projects are set to take place this year before the early 2020 deadline – especially among smaller companies still hanging on to aging PCs. Many of these organizations have taken their time due to Windows 7 being a mostly stable and reliable platform, as well as many IT managers having the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality due to already stretched-out budgets. Configuring, deploying, and managing the rollout of a new operating system across huge numbers of endpoints is a massive undertaking for businesses of all sizes, and takes IT staff away from their normal job functions.

Still, Microsoft is staying firm on its January 2020 deadline and reminding users still running Windows 7 with popup alerts warning them support is about to end. You do have the choice of ignoring them, but that could prove costly. Microsoft is constantly releasing updates for their operating systems to address security and performance issues, as well as bugs and minor glitches. By staying with an out-of-date Windows 7, you won’t get any of these updates and your systems become vulnerable to hackers and cyberattacks, compromising your networks and critical data. Continuing with unsupported operating systems also puts you at risk of being out of compliance, meaning fines and potentially lost business if it becomes public knowledge. Microsoft does offer Windows 7 end-of-life extended support, but the monthly cost is out of range for all but those businesses with very deep pockets.

Evaluate Your Options

Assuming you’re not going to make the mistake of ignoring the deadline, your options are to switch to Mac or Linux, update your existing devices, or replace them. Somewhat surprisingly, there is a compelling argument for this last alternative. Besides being potentially more cost-effective, new machines running Windows 10 perform 80 percent better than a 4-year-old device running the same operating system, according to Intel. New devices also achieve 40 percent faster data analysis and are two times better at multitasking. So, upgrading your operating system and your devices could also present an opportunity for a healthy productivity bump.

Creating a Solid Windows 10 Migration Strategy

Deciding if you’re going to update current devices or replace them is part one of your Windows 10 migration strategy. The next step is to plan carefully and answer these questions:

  • What version of Windows 10?
  • Are my current applications compatible with Windows 10?
  • What user training is required?

Since Windows 10 has been out for years, Microsoft has already put out multiple updates to the system. Version 1809 began going out to regular users in October 2018, and a new one is expected in May. There are business-ready pro versions as well, and given the frequency of bugs with brand new updates, it may make sense to pick an older one for your migration project. Proactive IT managers will want to keep abreast of the news around each update before deciding which Windows 10 version to choose.

Next, you need to see if your existing software applications are compatible with Windows 10. Microsoft has a handy website where you can check, but if you have proprietary software, you’ll want to conduct your own testing before rolling out the upgrade across your business.

Lastly, while Windows 7 and 10 are very similar, there are plenty of differences to be aware of and prepare for. You need to carefully evaluate what changes may require user training – especially for end users who are less tech savvy. You don’t want critical business operations compromised because of your migration.

Windows 10 Migration Presents an Opportunity to Evaluate Your Overall Device Approach

With digital transformation being a priority for just about every organization, Windows 10 migration may be a place to reevaluate your entire IT strategy and decide whether you want your in-house team to continue with device management or instead prioritize their focus on more strategic needs.

A managed services provider (MSP) like CompuCom can help you assess where your current technology infrastructure is now, and what you need to best reach your IT goals now, and keep your business running beyond all the changes and upgrades to come.

The clock is ticking on Windows 7 – don't get left behind.

 

 
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