Windows 7 End of Life: What to Do If You Missed the Deadline
Eleven years ago in 2009, Microsoft released the operating system Windows 7. It was stable, functional, and compatible with software. In other words, everything a business computer system needs. Naturally, businesses build their software and internal tech stacks on computers that ran Windows 7. And not just when it was new.
As newer versions of Windows were tried and cycled through, Windows 7 remained a reliable fallback. Many people built installations on Windows 7 when there were newer alternatives because of the stability. However, part of that stability was the fact that Microsoft has been supporting Windows 7 installations for the last decade. They have been providing performance and security patches to keep Windows 7 systems functional.
But all that has changed.
Ten Years of Windows 7 Support
Back in 2009, Microsoft promised to provide 10 years of support for the operating system. As of January 2020, that support ended. Windows 7 is officially abandonware. Microsoft has been keeping Windows 7 and compatible Microsoft software updated in some key ways. These most notably include defenses against the latest hacker and malware threats and optimizations to fix known or identified bugs.
Ongoing support is important for any software, especially an operating system. However, Microsoft is firmly putting all of that to an end. Microsoft is no longer be providing any support for the PC version of Windows 7 or any Windows-7 compatibility for Microsoft software.
What End of Life Means to You
Windows 7 End of Life is important to businesses who have Windows 7 systems currently running. Especially now that we’re passed the support deadline. If you have Windows 7 backups and no updated version backups, you may also have reason for concern. The good news is that End of Life isn’t a brick wall, it’s a risk rating. Microsoft isn’t going to nuke your Windows 7 install or tech stack, but they have stopped helping to optimize and protect it. In entirety, the End of Life is a stop to updates. Windows has stopped sending updates.
Your Windows 7 systems have officially become more vulnerable because they have become stationary. Hackers will become able to take apart all of its defenses with no new defenses to take their place. Bugs and errors that appear in software will no longer be examined and patched. Complaints and requests related to Windows 7 are no longer be addressed or prioritized by Microsoft employees.
What really changes? The full responsibility of updating, defending, and integrating your Windows 7 tech stack has fallen on your internal IT team’s shoulders. Or you can update your systems to Windows 10 and get Microsoft support back in full.
Support for Windows 7 Related Software
Among the most frequently asked questions about Windows 7 End of Life is how this will impact other Windows software. Microsoft has not released much specific information about support and compatibility, but they will not be removing compatibility. The software and operating systems you have will generally continue to work together.
About Microsoft Office Windows 7 Support
One of the biggest questions is support for the Windows 7 Microsoft Office suite. Office programs change from Windows version to version, including a document file type along the road. If your business has a document infrastructure built in Windows 7 Microsoft Office, it’s normal to be concerned. Microsoft says that Office will continue to work, but no further support will be supplied and it recommends upgrading to Windows 10 if you’re concerned.
About Windows 7 Embedded
If you have some specific devices, you may be concerned about continued support for Windows 7 Embedded. This is a unique operating system made specifically for ATMs and gas pumps. It is separate from the PC operating system and is not included in this End of Life cycle. Do not worry, Windows 7 Embedded will continue to be supported until stated otherwise.
Security Risk of Unsupported Software
There are two very important points to take away from the End of Life date coming to pass. The first is that your company has most likely not hit a sudden brick wall. Software continues to function as it always has, but new fixes are not coming from Microsoft. You have time and some latitude for upgrading your systems or fully customizing and hardening.
The second point to take away is that an unsupported operating system is a risk. For the same reason a WordPress website is a target for hackers, and unsupported popular OS is a target for hackers. Hackers will explore, discover, share, and mass-exploit Windows 7 business users… eventually. The unsupported time has only just begun, so it’s only the beginning.
Over time, your unsupported Windows 7 installs will become more and more legacy and a greater attraction for hackers and malware.
Upgrading Your Business to Windows 10
The most practical approach is to upgrade your entire business stack to Windows 10 and re-stabilize with newly updated and upgraded software. Microsoft does not recommend a legacy installation. Instead, they suggest that you start with a fresh install of each piece of software onto the Windows 10 system. Anything you cannot find in the app store should be replaced or legacy installed.
The upgrade process does not have to be difficult. Start by backing up your business data. Then build a new tech stack based on Windows 10 and the upgraded versions of your favorite business software. Then load in or import your old business data into the new system. Of course, for the complicated real-world experience of this process, it helps to work with data migration specialists.
Make the Leap to Windows 10 with BWS Technologies
If your business has Windows 7 systems that are finally, officially, out of date then it’s now well passed time to start thinking about Windows 10. Windows 10 is a stable and reliable OS with steady support from the Microsoft team. All you need is a serious game plan to transition your data and operations onto a compatible new Windows 10 operation with the latest versions of all your favorite tech-stack software.
The BWS Technologies team is dedicated to customer satisfaction and technological excellence. Contact us today to learn more about our Windows 7 End of Life solutions and to plan your digital migration to Windows 10.