The Clock Is Ticking on Windows 7. Time to Upgrade or Deal with the Risks.

Microsoft ended mainstream support for the Windows 7 operating system in January of 2015. That means security patches are still be distributed, but no new features have been added in nearly four years. However, Windows 7 is still the most widely used operating system with 40.88 percent of the market, according to September 2018 data from NetMarketShare.

Windows 10, which is only three years old and still fully supported and heavily promoted by Microsoft, is being used by 37.44 percent of users. Despite the fact that Windows 7 turned 9 years old in October of 2018, it actually gained market share earlier this year!

Here’s the problem. Microsoft will end extended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. That might seem far off into the future, but it’s only a little more than a year away. At that point, Windows 7 computers won’t receive security updates and newly discovered vulnerabilities won’t be addressed. Running any unsupported software puts your data and organization at risk.

Here are a few more reasons why businesses should consider starting the upgrade process as soon as possible.

Windows 10 Is More Secure

Research from Webroot found that 63 percent of known malware in 2017 were found on Windows 7 systems, compared to just 15 percent on Windows 10 systems. Remember the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected 230,000 computers around the world? The vast majority were Windows 7 computers. No incidents were reported on Windows 10 computers.

Windows 7 is more susceptible to attack because of its age. Hackers have had more time to identify vulnerabilities. When extended support runs out in January of 2020 and Microsoft stops sending security updates to Windows 7 computers, hackers are expected to heavily target these computers to gain access to sensitive corporate data.

Microsoft Is Not-So-Gently Pushing Users to Windows 10

Since 2016, Windows 7 security updates have become large, complex and bandwidth-intensive, which can drag down performance speeds in other areas of the network. Microsoft support teams have stopped answering support questions about Windows 7 in Microsoft Community forums. Microsoft has also stopped supporting old computers with old Intel processors that don’t support SSE2 technology, which is used to increase performance.

Clearly, Microsoft is urging businesses and individuals to upgrade to Windows 10. The company has also distributed reminders about the end of extended support and the security risks created by using unsupported software. While it’s natural for a company to want people to use the latest product, upgrading to Windows 10 is very much in the best interests of Microsoft customers.

Upgrades Don’t Happen Overnight

Upgrading to a new operating system is a bit more complicated than updating most software. Businesses will need to review licensing agreements and train employees, who tend to be resistant to change. You’ll need to test legacy business applications for compatibility. You may need to invest in new computers with Windows 10 pre-installed, and it’s a good idea to customize settings to align with business goals and processes.

Needless to say, shifting from Windows 7 to Windows 10 can’t be accomplished with a flip of a switch or a tap of a button. Careful planning is required, and that takes time. Without a strategic plan, you risk frustrating your team and sapping productivity.

Windows 10 Is Nothing Like Windows 8

It’s no secret that Windows 8, to put it kindly, was not well-received by industry experts, businesses and the average user. One could reasonably hypothesize that many people have clung to Windows 7 because they continue to be haunted by the Windows 8 nightmare.

But Microsoft learned its lesson. Windows 10 much more closely resembles Windows 7 than Windows 8 in terms of the user experience. In fact, some critics have suggested that Microsoft skipped a version 9 to put as much distance as possible between Windows 8 and 10. Windows 10 is not only more secure, but it also boots faster and delivers faster performance.

Think of Windows 10 as a better version of 7, which is exactly what upgrades are supposed to be.

Because many business processes are so dependent on technology, keeping software up to date is critical to protecting corporate data assets, maintaining a high level of productivity, and delivering a best possible experience. If you company is still using Windows 7, consider developing a plan to upgrade to Windows 10 as soon as possible.

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