Small Businesses basically have three choices: stay with the old PCs and Windows 7; stay with the old PCs and upgrade to a Windows 10; or acquire new devices that will Windows 10.
If a company chooses to stand pat, then it will have to pay for the Extended Security Updates, the added cost of incident problems, additional on-site support, and additional hardware expenses. The least expensive of these items is the cost for the Microsoft Extended Security Updates while potentially the biggest cost could be the loss of productivity by the users (normally not included in most analyses).
Upgrading is not a viable option
Upgrading old PCs to newer operating systems is not typically an advisable option.
Most small businesses will wish to perform complete system wipes and software reinstalls from one or more golden images as the challenges of in-place upgrades make such an option ill-advised. Plus, as with the first option, the now-ancient PCs are past their normal useful life and the numbers that will statistically suffer from increased breakages requiring telephone, remote desktop, and deskside support.
The likely breakage increases will have a noticeable impact on support costs in the fourth year of PC service and a massive leap in the fifth year given mean-time-between-failures averages.
These added incident problems, increased on-site support costs and additional hardware expenses, will quickly eclipse PC replacement costs – particularly when lost productivity is considered.
The least cost option
The replacement of old PCs running Windows 7 with new PCs and with a current operating system is the least cost option – whether purchased or leased.
A recent RFG TCO analysis demonstrates that the least cost options for small business PC life cycles are repeating three-year or four-year leases over a five-year period. The most expensive option examined maintained old systems and handled break/fix issues as they arose irrespective on Windows 7 maintenance.
Maintaining Windows 7 via extended support options added 60 percent or more costs to a current operating system base, further supporting three-year and four-year refresh strategies.
RFG estimates that the minimum savings will be at least 12 percent for a lease over the purchase of new equipment. The savings between a new lease versus maintaining outmoded hardware could exceed 50 percent.
The half-life of IT equipment these days is less than three years.
Firms that prefer to keep legacy hardware in production for five years or longer – beliefs frequently based in accounting principles – will find that amortization-based approaches to IT refreshes fail to account for rates of change, productivity improvements, and performance gains.
The best option today is to not own PC hardware but employ a three-year or four-year refresh policy to effectively minimize small business life cycle costs.
While Microsoft has provided users with an extended security support option for the next three years, small businesses should not see this as a justification to delay migrating off of Windows 7.
While it may seem a preferable stop-gap to stave off PC and operating system upgrades, the financial and practical reality is that there is no upside to remaining on Windows 7 PCs any longer than necessary. IT executives should do their own benefits/cost analysis to determine their best course of action and then move forward as quickly as possible.