The end of 2 beloved and notorious operating systems Microsoft Windows 7 & Server 2008 R2 is upon us. As of January 2020, Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 will no longer be supported. Much like you may remember the end of life for Windows XP or Server 2003, so goes Windows 7. Effectively after this date you’ll no longer receive software patches, bug fixes, or anything else. If you work in a regulated industry such as healthcare, you will not be compliant with HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, MA Privacy Directive, CA Privacy Law, and many others. Additionally, it is most likely that new versions of Windows will not work on old hardware due to hardware and application incompatibilities, a lack of supported drivers and the fact that the hardware is uncertified for the new operating system(s).
EOL/EOS Means Upgrade
As we have detailed many times, EOL/EOS(End of Life/End of Service) operating systems and hardware must be retired and replaced. With systems that you can no longer patch, your organization risks a perpetual 0-day that cybercriminals and malicious actors can easily exploit. This effectively means you’ll have no way to defend yourself from the very real risks and costs of running these painfully insecure, non-compliant systems. When new vulnerabilities are found they will not be patched and those will pile up over time, leaving you increasingly vulnerable. Software patches address these issues but only with operating systems that are currently supported.
Can We Upgrade to Windows 10
Upgrading for many can be a difficult and complex process. Upgrading to Windows 10 isn’t a point and click proposition for businesses. From the small business to the large enterprise, desktop upgrade deployments require careful planning and testing. Most organizations have critical applications, devices and technologies they will need to validate will properly work on Windows 10. Also, they’ll need to assure that the hardware they currently own will work with Windows 10. Much existing hardware may be too old, incompatible or out of date to be used with this new operating system. This means organizations should start planning today to address a path toward Windows 10 or risk losing compliance, security, uptime and then-some. Thankfully you have a few options to remain secure and compliant in the midst of this known deadline.
Purchase ESU Support for Windows 7
Organizations with Windows 7 Pro and Windows 7 Enterprise will be able to purchase extended support for Windows 7 that will extend support until January 2023. This service, called Windows 7 Extended Security Update will be available to customers under volume licensing and sold on a per-device basis. The catch is Microsoft will increase the price each year for this service in a (not so subtle) nudge to move organizations toward upgrading to Windows 10. Also note: users of any other version of Windows 7 Home will not be eligible for this option.
Upgrade to Windows 10
The optimal path forward is upgrading your organization to Windows 10 Enterprise. Unfortunately, the old model of buying PC’s with Windows 7 Pro and holding them until the operating system reaches its end of service will not work with its new Windows as a Service model. The WaaS (Windows as a Service) is Microsoft new service model, much like all of its other cloud products. This means you will have to purchase software assurance that you’ll have to pay for on an annual basis much like a cloud service.
Upgrade to Server 2016
Servers currently running Windows 2008 R2 will also need to upgraded to a newer version of the server operating system. Servers require orders of magnitude of careful planning when upgrading than desktops. Assessing the applications and hardware are critical to a successful move to a new, supported version of Windows Server, be it Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, or Windows Server 2019. Additionally we have the option of on-premise or cloud deployments giving us ultimate flexibility in planning your infrastructure. Running and EOL/EOS server operating system leaves you with the same perpetual 0-day conundrum that has only one solution – upgrade.
Slowing moving toward the goal of moving toward a supported version of the operating system is an imperative that cannot be ignored without massive risks to security, compliance and up-time. Running out of date software can be an existential threat to your business. If you need help with a Windows 10 or Windows Server upgrade plan, we are here to help. Whether on premise, cloud or virtualization, we can get you there. Reach out to us and we’d be happy to help.