Cybersecurity

Still Using Windows 7? Security Updates End in 6 Months

Update: This Saturday (July 20) marks the 6-month countdown until Microsoft kills security updates for its beloved Windows 7 operating system (OS) on January 20, 2020. While many larger enterprises have either completed their migration to Windows 10, or will have finished their migration by that deadline, there are still a large number of organizations who are resting on their laurels.

New research conducted by Censuswide for the tech company Kollective shows that close to 20% of large organizations have still not made the move to migrate their end points to the new OS. The percentage of holdout organizations is likely larger among small to medium businesses.

OS migration is not an easy task in any circumstance, but there are two big reasons to upgrade your organization’s end points. First and foremost is the Microsoft “tax” for continuing security updates, a cost that will disproportionately impact smaller companies. Second, Windows 10 operates on an “as a Service” model. This is great news for those who loathe migrating their organization every time a new OS is released, as updates will be regular and ongoing. However, it means that organizations will have to retool their operations to handle cloud-based “as a Service” software, but also the limited time allowed for testing before rolling out more frequent updates to end points.

Software Patch

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It’s been almost a decade since Windows 7 debuted (July 2009), when it replaced its much-maligned predecessor, Windows Vista. Following its release, Windows 7 quickly became (and remained) incredibly popular for end users at home and across enterprises. In fact, it was so popular that there was a backlash against its successor (Windows 8, October 2012) it took three-and-a-half years for Windows 10 (July 2015) to surpass it in total installs. Despite its continuing popularity, however, Microsoft is reminding everyone still using the OS that it’s time to move on.

Redmond released a patch earlier this week that features a pop-up window reminding end users that there will be no more security updates for the OS after January 14, 2020. These warnings will start appearing on screens after April 18, 2019.

In anticipation of some general foot-dragging, Microsoft has created a program for Enterprise customers allowing them to purchase extended security updates. The program would allow organizations the ability to pay for continued security updates through January 2023. The cost is likely to cause serious sticker shock, though. For organizations with Enterprise license subscriptions the program will cost an additional $25 per device for the first year, which increases to $50 for year two, and $100 for year three. Double the price per device for Windows Pro licenses.

Microsoft did try to get end users to switch for years, offering free upgrades to Windows 10, though, those incentives ended in January 2018. This time it’s serious, as running an unsupported operating system will only invite risk and leave your systems open to cyberattack.