Windows 7 users have been getting reminders all year from Microsoft. Why? Windows 7 product support is ending on January 14, 2020, leaving users scrambling to figure out what to do next. Thankfully, this isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s not unusual for an operating system (OS) to become obsolete.
In fact, Microsoft told the world upon the October 2009 release of Windows 7 that they were committed to 10 years of Windows 7 support. The 2014 Windows XP end-of-life provides insight into what to do next. Here’s everything you need to know about what to do when Windows 7 is no longer supported, along with the Windows 7 extended support cost.
When Is Windows 7 No Longer Supported?
Mainstream support (adding new features) for Windows 7 already ended back on January 13, 2015, in preparation for the July 29, 2015 release of Windows 10. From 2015 on, Microsoft only continued patching fixes for bugs and security vulnerabilities, while new features were focused on newer versions. It calls this period “extended support,” and it’s currently free.
The last day for free Windows 7 extended support is January 14, 2020. This doesn’t mean that computers running Windows 7 will suddenly shut down on that day. Instead, Microsoft will release its last Windows 7 security update before that day and both further development and manned technical support will cease. This doesn’t include Windows Embedded POSReady 7, which has free extended support until October 12, 2021.
Organizations (governments, businesses, and schools) can choose to extend Windows 7 support by paying an annual subscription fee that fits in with Microsoft’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.
Microsoft’s Windows 7 Extended Support Cost
To continue receiving cumulative security updates and vulnerability patches, Microsoft is charging Windows Enterprise and Windows 7 Pro users $25/$50 per device for 2020, $50/100 in 2021, and $100/200 in 2022. That lower price for Windows Enterprise is an add-on for enterprise Microsoft partners purchasing volume Windows and Microsoft 365 licenses.
Paying this annual licensing fee guarantees cumulative security patches through January of the next year, and year one must be purchased to purchase years two and three. This leaves organizations wondering whether it’s cheaper to pay for what looks like limited support or upgrade/migrate systems to a new OS, which is a lengthy and expensive project that will likely take the entire three years.
Three years is an arbitrary number – Microsoft is merely using the time frame to forecast headcounts and other resources necessary for its Windows 7 team.
Considerations of Windows 7 End of Life
Three years isn’t a long time, and many leaders wonder what will happen in the future. While predicting the future is impossible, there are several important considerations when deciding whether to upgrade, migrate, or pay for extended support when Windows 7 reaches its end of life.
1. Windows XP Is Still Alive and Well
Although Windows XP seems like an ancient OS to be discussing, it’s relevant to the conversation for several reasons. The Windows XP end of life is long past, yet ATMs, medical devices, and other computer devices around the world still use both desktop and embedded versions of the OS. SpiceWorks’ 2019 Future of Network and Endpoint Security report found 32% of organizations still have at least one network-connected device running Windows XP.
Bugs for Windows XP aren’t just affecting the XP ecosystem either. An obscure functionality called CTF in Windows Text Services Framework was implemented in Windows XP and still existed in modern versions through Windows 10. A bug in this protocol affected every Windows machine until it was finally patched in August 2019, 90 days after a security researcher reported it to Microsoft.
2. Windows 10 Has an End of Life Too
Microsoft created Windows 10 as a more flexible alternative, with an initial lifespan similar to previous OS updates, meaning it will stop receiving mainstream support October 13, 2020, and extended support October 14, 2025. This indicates expectations are high for a new Microsoft Windows OS in early 2021, which will coincide with the release of its Project Scarlett console.
Microsoft’s website has a timeline of end-of-life support for each Windows 10 edition and version. This is essential information for anyone using one of these operating systems.
Properly Migrate Proprietary Business Systems with ImageNet
Businesses can decide to stay with Windows 7. However, migrating business systems to the latest OS can be more beneficial considering Windows 10 has advanced security features like Windows Hello (which allows biometric authentication), Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph, and Windows Defender Application Guard.
The decision to migrate or utilize the extended support involves profoundly technical information to navigate, and each organization has different needs based on existing equipment and software needs. Migrating proprietary enterprise platforms can cost tens of millions of dollars and crash existing operations if not properly executed. However, ImageNet’s Managed IT services offers a much simpler approach to this decision and the process afterward.
Contact ImageNet today to speak with one of our IT consultants about whether to migrate your business operations when Windows 7 is no longer supported.