Simon Ramm of IT company Premier Links discusses changes to the support of the Microsoft operating system early next year that organisations need to be aware of.

The popular Microsoft operating system, Windows 7, will stop being supported by Microsoft in January 2020.

The message from Microsoft is “After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for PCs with Windows 7. Upgrade to Windows 10 now to keep your employees productive and secure”.

In practical terms this means that any machines running Windows 7 will still work; however they are more vulnerable to attacks because elements of the system that talk to the outside world will not be sent up-to-date security patches or “updates”.

With that in mind, at Premier Links we have spent much of 2019 advising our customers, based on the specification of hardware they have, whether to keep the existing hardware and upgrade the operating system to Windows 10, or decommission the PC and replace with a modern day equivalent.

For many devices running Windows 7 they are of an age where upgrading the operating system alone isn’t viable. Even if your machine will support Windows 10, Microsoft officially stopped allowing “free” upgrade licences in 2018 and the money you would now need to spend on purchasing a Windows 10 licence is better put towards a replacement PC where the cost of the operating system is subsidised and you get the benefit of a modern day specification and the performance that goes with it.

Unfortunately that is not where the considerations end. Many machines running Windows 7 have legacy pieces of software installed and peripherals attached to them that may not be compatible with Windows 10, so the cost and practicalities of replacing these elements need to be factored in too.

Ultimately it is heavily recommended that all machines running Windows 7 will need to have some action taken before the middle of January 2020. Those machines will fire up on January 15th, but you are best to get some specialist advice from a recommended professional before deciding how best to move forward.