Preparing for Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 End of Life 

On January 14 2020, Microsoft Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 officially reached End of Life. This is the first of seven known Microsoft End of Life dates coming in 2020. As patching expires for these operating systems, it is more important than ever to make sure that you and your business are up-to-date. Continuing to utilize these outdated systems could put your business seriously at risk. We at Preemo have a number of ways to secure your network and information in the wake of the End Of Life announcement. 

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What is End of Life? 

In the broadest sense, End of Life (EOL) is a term used to describe a product sold to consumers that has been phased out by its vendor. The vendor has deemed the product to be at the end of its “useful life” and has decided to discontinue marketing, support, and/or updates for that product. Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 reaching End of Life means that Microsoft will no longer be releasing any patches for that particular software. 

Typically, Microsoft releases software patches for its software products on the second (and sometimes fourth) Tuesday of each month. This is informally known in the IT industry as “patch tuesday.” A Software Patch is a set of changes made to a software in order to update, fix, or improve the software. Patching can serve many different purposes, including fixing bugs (flaws) and improving functionality and user experience. Crucially, patches can also fix any security vulnerabilities that the software might have. Windows 7 and multiple versions of Windows Server (especially Windows Server 2008) reaching End of Life means that Microsoft has decided to no longer release patches for either operating system (aka patching has expired), as of January 14th, 2020. Other programs reaching End of Life status later this year include Microsoft Office 2010, Project Server 2010 (on October 13, 2020), and Windows 10 1809 Home/Professional (on May 12th, 2020). 

Why is this a concern? 

We at Preemo are concerned about this End of Life announcement for several reasons. According to Kaspersky research, “40% of very small businesses (VSBs) and 48% of small, medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises still rely on unsupported or approaching EOS operating systems for their security needs.” This means that these businesses are relying on operating systems that may have serious issues going completely unfixed. If these issues become apparent, businesses will be completely unable to rectify them.

Of most concern, perhaps, is the new absence of security patches. If the software has a security weakness, it cannot be patched/fixed. The business that uses the software is now far more vulnerable to a cybersecurity incident, such as a malware or ransomware attack. Studies show that 71% of small/medium-sized businesses report experiencing a cybersecurity breach/attack in the last two years and that these are likely to continue in 2020. Making sure your business’ software is up-to-date can help reduce this risk. 

 

Next Steps 

 At Preemo, we provide remediation services to new and existing clients who may be relying on Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. We are working consistently to secure and update our clients’ IT infrastructures in the wake of the End Of Life announcement.  

We begin our services with an audit of our clients’ desktop workstations to find out which are still running on the outdated system. From there, we have two options: to either upgrade the operating system or to replace the workstation entirely. Let’s look at the two options in greater detail:

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Upgrading the existing workstation 

The first option is to upgrade the operating system on the existing workstation. We are able to easily update the operating system on newer computers that were originally purchased with windows 7. In some cases, there is an option to upgrade the workstation with a license that is preconfigured into the operating system. This is known as an in-place upgrade and will upgrade the operating system from Windows 7 to Windows 10, the “most secure Windows ever built.”

An in-place upgrade involves installing new software on a computer without having to remove the older version first. In cases where the computer is newer but is not running windows 7, we can still get around having to replace the workstation entirely. In this scenario, we would purchase a Windows 7 license and use that do do an in-place upgrade on the workstation. Either of these strategies will solve the problem effectively.

Desktop replacement

Generally, if a workstation is over three years old, we strongly advise replacing it with a new one. A business-grade workstation, like Dell Optiplex, has only a three year manufacturer warranty, which we use a threshold for replacement time. If your business is running an even older operating system, such as Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, we recommend that you replace your computers as soon as possible. The older the operating system, the greater the risk of a cybersecurity incident. And, if a cybersecurity incident does occur, an outdated operating system makes it more difficult for your business to recover. We highly recommend a Dell Optiplex workstation for our clients needing to replace their older workstations. 

With the End of Life announcement, we can expect a large number of businesses to be replacing their workstations. This large demand for new computers presents challenges- if many businesses are replacing their workstations at the same time, the vendors may not be able to produce enough to meet the demand. However, a great IT service provider can make the process of replacing your computers quick and effective. As part of our services to clients dealing with the End of Life announcement, Preemo helps with procurement of workstations. We help with every other aspect of the transition to the updated system, including deploying the workstation and migrating our clients’ data from one workstation or server to another. We also recreate user profiles as needed and install any additional software that needs to be installed on the computer. 

Looking Forward 

At Preemo, we know how daunting Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 reaching End of Life can seem for our clients. From upgrading software to migrating data, there is a lot to do to keep your business running safely in the new year. We work hard to ensure that our clients’ IT infrastructures are current and secure. Our team also helps make the transition to an up-to-date operating system seamless for you and your business. Bring your business confidently into the future with Preemo- click here to get a free quote: (preemo.com/schedule).