What happens if you keep using Windows 7 after its end-of-life support?

What happens if you keep using Windows 7 after its end-of-life support?

As advanced as modern tech is, some just aren’t meant to last forever.

Like other software products, your operating system isn’t void of mandatory upgrades. Come 2020 (just a stone’s throw away), both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will reach the end of their life cycle, also known as a software’s “end of life” (EOL).

So, what does this mean for your business, and what can you do to prepare for it?

Firstly, what is “end of life”?

A software product’s EOL refers to the date on which its providers stops offering users corresponding support or security updates. A product typically heads towards its EOL once newer, more advanced versions of itself are released onto the market. At this stage, users of the older product can typically gain access to “extended support,” allowing them to upgrade at a later date.

With Microsoft’s operating systems (OS), users are offered extended support for 10 years until their EOL date. In the case of Windows 7, customer support and software security will cease on January 14, 2020. The OS won’t suddenly stop working on the date, though users who continue unsupported use leave themselves and their business vulnerable to plenty of digital risks.

The greatest risk of continued use
With cybercrime rampant across New York (ranking it among the top five states at risk for cyberattacks), you’d want your business to stay as vigilant as ever. The region suffers a loss of over $200 million annually from data breaches, from both internal and external causes.

Continued use of an “expired” OS can further put you at increased risk since the lack of security updates leaves your data vulnerable to hackers and malware. Without the latest fixes, patches, or countermeasures to secure your information, it becomes an easy target for criminals (especially those with new, sophisticated malware tactics), even with firewalls and antivirus software in place.

During Window 7’s extended support, Microsoft had already patched 29 security vulnerabilities in April 2019 alone. One can only imagine the numbers post-EOL — this time, without Microsoft’s help to mitigate them. Such statistics only go to show the fervent, ongoing issue of cybercrime exploits and the importance of keeping your data protected with the latest security patches.

Other risks of using Windows 7 after end of life
In addition to cybersecurity concerns, using Windows 7 after its EOL will also leave you with the following issues:

  • Software incompatibility: You’ll no longer gain access to new and improved software products, as developers will likely be designing them for new, upgraded OS systems. This leaves you stuck with legacy applications, which would likely reach their EOL soon, too.
  • Noncompliance: Heavily regulated industries, such as those in healthcare and finance, have strict policies in place for protecting customer data. By storing sensitive information in an unsecured, unsupported OS, you risk noncompliance. This will not only damage your business reputation, but can result in hefty fines and even heftier lawsuits.
  • High support costs: Continuing with Windows 7 after its EOL date will draw in steep costs of maintaining and bug-fixing its software. Yes, these updates will exist post-EOL — but only for a temporary period as businesses prepare for an upgrade. Such costs will likely exceed the price of simply upgrading your OS, and can get more expensive over the years.
  • Poor reliability: Using old software implies that you aren’t performing at your optimal digital capacity. An outdated OS may additionally be prone to breaking down or experiencing technical hiccups without the necessary updates to patch things up. You’re sacrificing business productivity and increasing downtime as a result.

What should you do next?

The benefits of upgrading your OS far outweigh the time, effort, and finances saved from continued use of outdated software.

With poor security as your greatest risk, it’s fair to assume that hackers are preparing themselves for Windows 7’s EOL, ready to prey on users and businesses who fail to make a timely upgrade.
As such, your best course of action is to upgrade right away. This can be done in one of two ways: upgrading to Windows 10 (featuring the convenience of automatic security updates), or upgrading to other modern OS systems such as Mac and Linux.

Systems that still run on Windows 7 may likely need a hardware upgrade themselves, and luckily, plenty of new desktops and laptops come with a default installation of Windows 10. Through both an OS and hardware upgrade, you’ll improve productivity, performance, and security across your business for 2020.

Don’t wait till the EOL date — upgrade from Windows 7 today

With then new year underway, you’d want your company on top of its game. Capstone IT’s managed IT services offer New York-based businesses with solutions in cybersecurity, network management, and hardware and security upgrades. To plan for the technological updates you need in 2020, get in touch with our experts today.

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