In the tech field, End of Life is a term describing the end of support for a hardware or software product including security updates and customer service. This means that the developer will no longer fix flaws and bugs. You can still use the product – but at your own risk.
Business Systems and End of Life
The end of life for a software product can be a significant challenge for businesses. Don’t believe me? Consider this: when Microsoft ended support for its popular Windows XP product in 2014, it affected 40% of the world’s computers. That’s 40% of one billion computers worldwide. Change comes slowly. Here we are four years later and it’s estimated that up to 7% of the world’s computers are still using this outdated operating system.
Why are businesses slow to adapt and upgrade? This can be due to the expense and the time-consuming work to update and upgrade computers, particularly for small and midsize businesses. Many times, they are running legacy systems or software that relies on an older operating system. Older hardware and equipment may be in use that simply cannot handle the system requirements needed for an upgrade. Training employees to use the new system takes time and expense, as well. All of these factors can place a significant burden on the resources of a small or midsize business.
Still, most software manufacturers warn users in advance so that businesses can make plans to upgrade.
Now It’s Window 7’s Turn
Recently, Microsoft announced the end of life for its popular Windows 7 product. That end of life date is January 14, 2020.
Currently, Windows 7 is in use by nearly 70% of businesses worldwide. How these businesses navigate the impending end of life deadline will rely largely on careful planning. Examining your company’s current infrastructure and identifying what you will need to update will help you to create a plan for a smooth transition. The sooner you begin this process the more strategic you can be in terms of budgeting.
Will I Still Be Able to Use Windows 7?
When Microsoft announced the end of life for its Windows XP product, the primary concern for most users was, “will my computer still work?” Then answer then was “yes, but…” It’s the same with Windows 7’s end of life deadline. Your computer will still work, but you will be vulnerable to exploits and bugs after January 14, 2020.
I would advise you to begin planning your company’s transition to Windows 10 now, well in advance of the 2020 deadline. The sooner you begin these plans the more time you will have to address issues while Windows 7 is still supported.
What Do I Need To Do To Prepare?
Upgrading to a new operating system takes time and careful planning, particularly if you have numerous machines and systems to assess. A smooth and successful transition to a new operating system requires you to:
- Identify machines that need to be upgraded or replaced
- Identify and consider replacing legacy systems using older operating systems and/or software with updated technology
- Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
- Implement security controls to separate critical systems from Windows 7 machines that cannot be upgraded or removed
- Plan for employee training to learn the new system
The Windows Product Life Cycle
All Windows products have a lifecycle, beginning with their release and ending with the end of support. In the past, these lifecycles lasted anywhere from five to ten years, depending on the product. Typically, this includes two service periods: mainstream support and extended support. Mainstream support includes security patches as well as new features and often covers several years. Extended support begins once Microsoft is no longer actively developing the product, shifting instead to the release of updates to keep the product safe. End of life is the point at which no further support will be extended.
With the introduction of Windows 10, however, Microsoft adopted a new policy for the sustainability of their products. This model is known as Windows as a Service (WaaS) and incorporates continuous updates and support for current product offerings, like Windows 10.
This is good news for business. From this point forward, businesses using Windows 10 will remain up-to-date with the latest fixes and updates. They won’t need to upgrade to a new operating system, and they won’t need to agonize over which one will be the least troublesome to implement. Windows as a Service (WaaS) assures a smooth transition between iterations of a single operating system. Windows 10 may look completely different ten years from now, but incremental updates will happen behind the scenes without a major upheaval to business systems.
If your business is still using Windows 7, you would be wise to begin planning for its end of life date. Lieberman Technologies can assist you in that planning and help you create a schedule for the transition. We can help you implement a number of solutions that will enable a smooth transition to a more modern operating system. Contact us to get started!