Maintaining Windows 7 through 2020-2022

Widows 7 logo with a semi-transparent red circle and line over itAlthough most firms will find migration to Windows 10 more cost-efficient, maintaining Windows 7 remains an option through as late as 2022.

For most firms that still utilize Windows 7 devices, timely migration to Windows 10 is the safest and most cost-efficient option. Although Windows 7 support has been phased out for most devices, though, it remains a widely popular platform with broad application support. Some firms — especially those relying on custom software or software designed in-house — may not be able to seamlessly migrate their devices from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

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If your firm relies on legacy software or hardware that is not supported by Windows 10 and replacing that software or hardware isn’t a viable option, it may be necessary to delay migration on some or all devices.

Reasons why maintaining Windows 7 instead of migrating might be a good idea

This choice shouldn’t be made lightly since Windows 7 is past the end of its product life cycle, but if mission-critical hardware or software depends on Windows 7 your firm may not have another option. Firms that need to maintain Windows 7 will need to take extra precautions since they are using an older operating system:

  • Enroll all Windows 7 devices in the Microsoft Extended Security Updates (ESU) program
    • This is a critical baseline protective measure. Without enrolling in this program, devices will not receive future security updates from Microsoft.
  • Implement appropriate risk management strategies
    • Devices running Windows 7 are more vulnerable to cyber security threats. At minimum, firms without in-house IT and cybersecurity should conduct a third-party security audit of their devices and implement a firm-specific cybersecurity plan for legacy devices.
  • Determine a path forward past 2022.
    • Maintaining Windows 7 is a short-term solution, since all Microsoft support for Windows 7 security will end in 2022. Firms that rely on legacy software or hardware should develop a migration plan to implement before the final phase-out of extended support.

While some firms may need to maintain Windows 7, most will benefit from migrating as quickly as possible, and all will need to implement a migration plan by 2022. In the next article, we’ll outline some of the most important considerations for making migration as safe and cost-efficient as possible.

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