Small Business Owners There Is No Upside to Windows 7

After 10 years of support, Microsoft will officially discontinue Windows 7 support on Jan. 14, 2020.

 

Microsoft has notified its users that support for Windows 7 is ending, yet it is likely that many small businesses will not want to migrate off the software. RFG has performed a cost/benefits analysis and found that it is more economical to migrate or replace older hardware (and software) than to hold pat.

Staying on Windows 7 and paying for extended operating system support on outdated hardware can be more than twice as expensive than the upgrade options. is the most expensive option. IT executives need to understand the options and their costs and act accordingly before the support window ends.

After 10 years of support, Microsoft will officially discontinue Windows 7 support on Jan. 14, 2020.

Unfortunately, as of February 2019 the operating system remains extremely popular – 38 percent of all PCs and 44 percent of all Windows PCs run on Windows 7, according to NetApplications. For small businesses with large Windows 7 footprints, it may be impossible to migrate off all of them by the date of support discontinuance.

The somewhat good news is that Windows 7 users will have the option to pay Microsoft for software patches for another three years with what Microsoft calls “Windows 7 Extended Security Updates.”

But the support cost won’t be cheap, and the price will increase each year. The availability of paid patches will finally terminate after three years in Jan. 2023. But the cost of extended support is the least of the extension worries for continued Windows 7 users.

Windows 7 Exposures

Microsoft states on its support page “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.”

Once flaws on Windows 7 are publicly known, there is a high probability that those exposures will be exploited for malicious purposes. After 2020, those small businesses that use Windows 7 that do not buy the extended support are at significant risk of attack even with firewall, antivirus, and anti-phishing protections in place.

Risks and costs related to these known and unfettered attack vectors outweigh the costs of extended support and hardware/software upgrades. Executives that chose to pursue this path could be charged with malfeasance if the small business is hit with an attack that proves to be materially significant.

While security vulnerabilities are a major concern, there are three other exposures small businesses need to be address.

1. The first is that many of the new application updates that an organization uses may no longer run properly on Windows 7.

This occurs because vendors follow Microsoft’s lead (or their own philosophy of only supporting a limited number of operating system versions) and therefore no longer test their updates for patched or unpatched Windows 7 compatibility.

2. Second Microsoft is not committing to keep up with updating other functionality that may serve as necessary components of other Microsoft and third-party applications – updates apply to security patching only.

The burden to address these shortcomings then becomes that of small business, and in some cases, no acceptable or known solutions may exist outside of upgrading to Windows 10. It also means that going forward, there are multiple versions of these applications that must be catalogued, tracked, and supported if workarounds are required to maintain the base platform.

3. The third problem is that new applications will require additional hardware and/or software features or capabilities over time.

For example, newer applications may expect to have more memory available than is available or free on older PCs or require codecs or DLLs not released to Windows 7. Where a hardware solution is possible, IT will have to purchase add-on hardware to the old devices.

Unsupported software may or may not work on Windows 7 and will require internal testing and patching processes that will prove increasingly challenging and, given exponentially expanding challenges, quickly outpace foregone upgrade costs.

Next: The Cost/Benefit