Windows 7 OS Enters Final Year of Free Support
Windows 7’s five years of extended support will expire on January 14, 2020. After this date, security fixes will no longer be freely available for the operating system that’s still widely used. If you still use Windows 7, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
“Changes and upgrades in technology are inevitable,” said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a blog. “And there’s never been a better time to start putting in motion the things you need to do to shift your organization to a modern desktop with Microsoft 365.” Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for Windows 7 to business customers that pay for support, according to ZDNet, but not individual users.
Windows 7 was released in 2009 and is still one of the most widely used desktop operating systems. Windows 10 finally overtook Windows 7 in the desktop market at the end of last year, according to ZDNet. Data analysis reports for December 2018 showed that 39.2 percent of the machines they collect data from used Windows 10, while 36.9 percent used Windows 7, according to ZDNet.
What Does End of Support Mean?
The end of free support does not mean the end of support entirely. Microsoft has long offered paid support options for its operating systems beyond their normal lifetime, and Windows 7 is no different. What is different is the way that paid support will be offered. For previous versions of Windows, companies had to enter into a support contract of some kind to continue to receive patches. For Windows 7, however, the extra patches will simply be an optional extra that can be added to an existing volume license subscription. No separate support contract will be needed on a per-device basis. These Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be available for three years after the 2020 cut-off, with prices escalating each year.
According to Microsoft Technologist Peter Bright, as an alternative, Microsoft is offering all three years of ESUs to customers of the new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service at no extra cost. This service offers cloud-hosted virtual machines running Windows 7 plus whatever applications are needed, and those virtual machines will continue to be patched into 2023. WVD uses existing Windows Enterprise E3 licenses, and it runs on the full range of Azure virtual machines, with no additional costs incurred. This includes, for example, GPU-equipped VMs, meaning that WVD should be usable for a wide range of workloads.
Office 365 will continue to be supported on Windows 7, but only with the ESUs applied. Similar policies exist for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. These also drop out of free support in one year. For on-premises deployments, customers will be able to buy the Extended Security Updates, but workloads in Azure will receive all three years of fixes for free.
Here are a few reasons why Windows 10 is superior to Windows 7:
- Multitasking – It is much easier to juggle multiple open windows when you’re working. Features include offering both half-monitor and quarter-monitor sizes when you drag a window to one part of the Desktop. Other open windows are able to fill any open space automatically. One can view a much clearer thumbnail overview of your open windows and supports multiple Desktops. This makes working with full-screen windows much easier when you don’t have multiple monitors
- Always up to date – It’s no longer possible to forget to run Windows Update. You will be less likely to miss a critical operating system patch that fixes a serious security problem. By forcing all users to stay up to date, everyone’s online safety is improved. It reduces the risk of a PC being compromised by a hacker and becoming part of a botnet that could be used to attack your PC.
- Security – The safety of your PC is improved. With alternatives to a simple password, such as using a familiar picture, it makes it much harder for anyone to sign into your PC without your permission.The new PIN system also means you can protect your Microsoft account with a long, strong and very secure password, but still use a simple PIN code to sign into your PC — and it only works on your PC.
- New Windows Features – Digital assistant Cortana is gradually improving with every update, while the Action Centre is a neat and tidy place to keep all your notifications.
- Faster – Performance tests have shown that this version is faster across the board than earlier versions of Windows. It boots, goes to sleep and wakes from sleep marginally faster than it would on a PC of the same specification. This means less waiting around when you want to do something. Application performance is more of a mixed bag. Tests show it to be faster than Windows 7 with some apps and slower with others. Bear in mind that Microsoft will update Windows 10 regularly. Windows 7 is now essentially frozen in its current state after ‘mainstream’ support ended in January 2015.
Contact Zunesis if your organization is interested in moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10. We can provide support and expertise during the transition.