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Bye-bye Windows 7 and Server 2008, they served us well

Bye-bye Windows 7 and Server 2008, they served us well

The end is nigh for Windows 7 and Server 2008. As of 14th January 2020, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2.

Whilst this hardly means that your PC immediately stopped working on the 14th, it does mean that Microsoft will no longer be providing updates or security fixes for the old operating system. Unfortunately, this means that if anything breaks whilst you’re using Windows 7, there’s no longer any way to fix it.

 

Why did Microsoft end support for Windows 7?

For each version of Microsoft’s OS, it offers a minimum of 10 years of support – and as Windows 7 was released in 2009, the 10 years of Microsoft support have come to an end. Microsoft is now encouraging its Windows users to migrate to Windows 10, which will be supported until 2025.

This is because, after a certain point, it becomes financially and practically untenable to keep patching and updating old software, especially when there’s already newer versions of the software available.

 

Why should we pay attention?

The reality is that many of us have been buying – and using – Windows 7 PCs for much longer than usual. From Windows 8 onwards, software updates left many Windows users reticent to switch to the new OS.

For example, Windows 8 included a lot of innovations which were designed to convert an old desktop OS into a mobile OS that could support touch-screen apps on smartphones and tablets. This Live Tiles interface wasn’t welcomed by users who didn’t have touch screens – i.e. most of us - so we’ve been buying and using Windows 7 for far longer than usual.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of risks involved in continuing to run old OS, let alone an OS that has now reached end of life status. The biggest risk is that these OS will no longer receive any patches or security updates. This leaves your PC – and any connected network - vulnerable to cyber-attacks and potential data loss. Ultimately, if a product contains unfixable security vulnerabilities, it’s almost impossible to protect it from hacker attacks, raising serious concerns about data security and GDPR compliance for businesses.

The WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 highlighted the serious implications of a cyber-attack on businesses and personal PCs. The worldwide cyberattack, which targeted devices which were running out of support Microsoft Windows operating systems, is reported to have exceeded £3billion in damages.

 

What happens next?

Considering the huge security risks and potentially high costs involved with keeping an unsupported OS, migrating to the latest version of Windows is the best possible idea for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/R2 users. 

As Microsoft says, “while you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware. Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10.”

Those customers still on Server 2008/R2 should swiftly migrate Server 2016, 2019 or to Microsoft Azure, which has many years critical and important security updates available.

Lastly, you should consider replacing outdated hardware or move to a hosted server platform. Computers that are running Windows 7 or Server 2008 are probably quite a few years old and are likely due for replacement but upgrading your PC, moving to a cloud-based platform, or migrating to a hosted service ensures that you have the latest features, robust security, and better performance.

With businesses spending more and more time and money addressing security risks, neglecting to do something as simple as upgrading your OS is a potentially huge oversight.

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