Communications from Microsoft to All Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 customers had been going out for some time indicating their End of Support (EoS). January 14, 2020 has passed, Microsoft pushed its final update to these operating systems, officially putting Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 at End of Support (EoS) but what does this mean to you?

Once a Microsoft operating system (OS) reaches the End of Support (EoS), customers will no longer receive feature and security updates, leaving unsupported systems at risk. The OS may still work with programs and hardware but support of the operating system has been discontinued.

  • No Security Updates: No hotfixes means the longer the OS remains in use the more it’ll become vulnerable and expose your system to future threats.
  • Unsupported Platform: Microsoft no longer provides technical support and troubleshooting if an issue arises with the (EoS) operating system.
  • Compliance Risks: Many certifications – such as HIPAA and PCI – require support for the OS in use; (EoS) can affect your ability to remain compliant.
  • No New Features: Incompatibility issues with new software and legacy hardware causing a decline in performance and reliability

Not all is lost

You may love your OS, you have been together for several or more years and find you are still in need of it’. Microsoft offers a program for those that still require the use of these EoS platforms. Microsoft’s “Extended Security Update” (ESU) program can provide up to three years of additional support for these Windows platforms providing continued updates for “important” and “critical” security issues.

Pros of the ESU Program

  • Continued Updates: You can continue to receive updates “important” and “critical” security issues.
  • Migration Buffer: Allows you additional time to research and plan a migration to an updated and supported platform.
  • Relieve Compliance Risk: enrolling in a plan will Maintain regulatory and industry compliance
Should I purchase the “Extended Security Update” (ESU) program? Ultimately the answer to that question is situational and determined on individual circumstances. Microsoft states; “The Extended Security Update (ESU) program is a last resort option for customers who need to run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support.”

Cons of the ESU Program

  • Cost: To gain the benefits of (ESU) you must sign up and purchase support from Microsoft in 12 month intervals for each individual W7 system that needs support. Additionally if you buy Windows 7 ESUs at a later date, you will have to pay for all the preceding years. Additional costs for enterprise “Add-on”. Upwards of $300 per system for updates
  • Legacy software: Windows 7 was released in 2009, Server 2008 was released in 2008 (over 11 years ago). They are out of date software platforms which is why Microsoft has retired them.
  • Complex solution: Signing up for the (ESU) is not the easiest solution to perform and will require professional IT personnel to implement. Time spent in researching the plan that you need and implementing this “temporary solution” could be better spent in just upgrading to a supported platform.

The ESU consists of several components:

o   Volume Licensing Programs: Contact your Microsoft partner or account team to purchase (ESU).

o   Extended Security Updates (ESU) Licensing Preparation Package: set of licensing changes to enable installation of the ESU add-on key. Plus additional update prerequisites.

o   ESU Licensing Update: Updates the original product key so that the ESU Key can be installed.

o   ESU Key: A pre-activated key that allows a device to receive ESU Security Updates.

o   ESU Servicing Stack Update (SSU): A special update that enables a device to receive ESU Security Updates.

o   Firewall Exceptions: Rules applied to a firewall that enables a device to receive ESU Security Updates.

o   Only after these components are successfully installed will monthly ESU Security Updates be applied to a device.

Procedure to continue receiving security updates after extended support ends on January 14, 2020

Should I upgrade my operating system?   The latest versions of Windows are designed to run on modernized hardware and small businesses often want to get as much life out of their systems as possible. However, not upgrading can mean losing more money in the long run. Here's why making upgrades for Windows is the better choice:

  • Improvement over its predecessors: Regarding the things that really matter—speed, security, interface ease, compatibility, and software tools—Windows 10 is a vast improvement.
  • Upgrades are free: The upgrade from windows 7 to Windows 10 is free. You heard correctly, if you have an existing Windows 7 with an activated license key, you can upgrade it to Windows 10 without having to buy the new OS. Microsoft is really pushing to get everyone to use Windows 10, so much so that in most cases if you can install Windows 10 and activate it using your old Windows 7 license key.
  • The last OS: Windows 10 offers free build/version updates. Once you get Windows 10, you'll never need to buy newer versions of windows again as it is the last version Microsoft plans to release. All future versions will just be new build/versions in the form of updates and improve upon the existing Window 10 operating system.
  • Geared for the future: Windows 10 geared towards the latest modernized technology, it supports both Desktop as well as tablets and other touchscreens.
  • Ease of recovery: Windows 10 has improved on its system recovery features making it easier for experts to help you recover your files.

Upgrade or refresh?

Your current hardware may be able to support the minimum requirements to run the newer versions of the operating systems but as previously mentioned, it is designed to run on modernized hardware and you most likely will see a significant performance dip on your older hardware. System hardware has made impressive performance improvements, today we have faster CPUs, faster hard drives and more processors, all at affordable prices.

So when we consider upgrading your operating system we have to ask:

  1. Is it a “hardware update” what you really need?
  2. Is your computer capable of “efficiently” running a newer version of your operating system?
  3. Do I have any software currently not compatible with the newest operating system?
  4. Will updating the operating system require other software upgrades?
Needless to say, to take full advantage of the OS improvements, refreshing your hardware is almost a necessity.

Ultimately, your operating system needs to be able to keep up with ongoing security updates, be compatible with current software and remain efficient enough to be productive. In most cases moving up to the latest OS version will be your best bet. The only reason you should not consider upgrading your OS (and hardware) is you have a program that will only run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support.
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