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Windows 7 has reached its End of Life. For many users, this will be a sad day when the operating system is “put out to pasture.” But Microsoft has clearly outlined the product’s lifecycle and on January 14, 2020, extended support for Windows 7 will end.

Many Windows 7 users are not aware of exactly what this means and how it will affect their day-to-day business. The product’s features will degrade as support is no longer available and it will be susceptible to viruses and ransomware.

Background On Windows 7

This popular operating system was released in October of 2009. It replaced the Windows Vista operating system, which was not very well received. Windows 7 was an instant hit. It was so intuitive. Everything worked well. Users quickly adopted the program and many would not stop using it even when Microsoft released Windows 8. Unfortunately, Windows 8 fell into disrepute as users began having the same old problems they’d had with the Vista operating system.

By 2014, Microsoft was making preparations to retire Windows 7. In the first phase, they stopped all retail sales. Next, mainstream support came to a standstill. In 2016, PCs were no longer shipped with Windows 7 pre-installed.

What Sunset Means

Sunset begins with Microsoft no longer offering extended support for Windows 7. It also means no more security updates, bug fixes, or service packs. The usability, security, and performance of this operating system will begin to degrade. As time goes by, there will be a definite tendency toward inferior performance, serious security issues, and the like.

When Should Windows 7 Users Switch?

Once sunset begins, users will not be able to enjoy all the features and security that the product was so famous for. The product will begin to have issues that can’t be resolved:

  • Applications no longer receive updates
  • Software, utilities, and features may become incompatible
  • New devices (e.g., printers or webcams) will have trouble connecting with Windows 7
  • Antivirus will not be updated, and third-party virus protection software will eventually stop supporting Windows 7
  • Online banking transaction systems may expire if their authentication and encryption methods cannot be supported by Windows 7
  • Software bug fixes are no longer patched, leaving the system open to exploitation

For companies that depend on their software programs to run correctly, these incompatibility problems can quickly become troublesome. Even customers or third-party vendors will not be able to interface with Windows 7. If you try to install new software, it will not be compatible.

The most serious issues with sunsetting are those involving security. Hackers know that Windows 7 has become vulnerable and they will seek out ways to exploit those weaknesses. This will leave your system susceptible to ransomware, malware, and viruses. The probability of suffering from a cyber-attack that renders your computers unusable will continue to increase with time.

What Are Your Options?

Microsoft has worked hard to perfect Windows 10. It has built-in security features that are much more effective than anything they’ve done in the past. But it’s important to start migrating to the new operating system now. As time approaches for Windows 7 end of life, many who have waited till the last minute will be looking for help to migrate all their files and documents over to a new system. There will be a rush period where companies may have to wait to get the help they need with installation and migration.

The other option would be switching to Mac OS. Mac OS is very reliable and users love it. But it does mean introducing an entirely new work environment to your team. There will be a steep learning curve. While some Microsoft programs, such as Office, are available for Mac OS, they work differently so it will take a period of time before new users become proficient. Mac computers are very reliable, but often more expensive than Windows-based computers.

The Migration Process

Before migrating, perform an inventory of software and group each application into one of three groups: unwanted, optional, or required. Some software may require an upgrade to run on a newer operating system. Next, prepare a similar inventory of hardware. As with the software, some hardware may need to be updated or replaced to remain compatible with the new operating system. Also, check the requirements of the replacement operating system, paying special attention to available hard drive space, physical memory, and processor needs.

If you’re using older computers, many experts recommend purchasing new computers that come preinstalled with Windows 10. Of course, you’ll still have to move all your files and apps over, but newer computers with Windows 10 will perform much better.

Wrap Up

With the sunset of Windows 7 now on the horizon, it’s important to begin migrating over to the Windows 10 or Mac operating system. Failure to upgrade will lead to serious issues with performance, compatibility and performance. The security risks alone could put all your data in danger from hackers.

NTConnections can complete your upgrade and migrate all your docs and files over to a new operating system. Contact us, and we’ll set up a time for your upgrade to take place. We can do this after-hours so that your staff and workflow is not impacted.

NTConnections serves the DC Metro area with years of skill and expertise to solve any IT problem. We can save you time, money and stress.

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