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Refreshing Insights

You have likely heard that Microsoft Windows 7 will soon be replaced by Windows 10, but unless you are an IT professional or a computer hobbyist, you might not know the effect this change has on computer use or how it might impact your business.

An operating system, like Windows 7, is the most important software on a computer. It manages the computer's hardware, memory, processes and programs. An update to the operating system (OS) isn’t always big news - in fact, you are probably accustomed to messages about updates regularly. What makes this change different is that Windows 7 will reach its End of Life January 14, 2020.

End of Life for a Microsoft product means two simple things.

  1. Microsoft will no longer provide support to the previous OS. You’ll be out of luck if you need to call support for help with Windows 7 issues.
  2. Microsoft will no longer supply patches for Windows 7 security issues that may arise after End of Life (January 14, 2020).

What is the security risk?

There’s a reason the second Tuesday of each month is called Patch Tuesday in the IT world. Microsoft and other computer companies continually identify issues with their current operating systems and send the newest security fixes which include updates, patches and bug fixes for the OS. These updates are sent on the second Tuesday of each month in order to protect the operating system from hackers and ensure operational reliability.

A huge amount of money can be made in the hacking business, and come January 14, hackers will have very little keeping them from attacking systems running Windows 7. Without regular security patches, the surge in hacker activity towards this OS will be extensive and costly to those who haven’t upgraded.

What do I need to consider when upgrading devices?

If you haven’t yet upgraded your systems, you are not alone. More than 30 percent of devices are still running Windows 7 as of late 2018, according to netmarketshare.com. The best plan of action for upgrading your systems will depend on a number of factors, including the age of your current devices and how many devices you need to update.

Age of Devices

If your computers are older, your best fix might be to purchase new computers with Windows 10 bundled. Not only will you get a new, more secure operating system you will find the added benefits of a longer battery life and better performance. Also, unless you purchased an extended support package, your system is likely out of warranty, and the maker may not be willing to help you out if something goes wrong when installing the upgrade.

If you’ve purchased devices within the last three years, there is a chance that you have the option of a free upgrade to Windows 10. After Windows 10 was released in 2015, vendors such as Dell and HP had the option to ship computers with Windows 7 installed and include a license to upgrade to Windows 10. If you are not sure if your device included a license to upgrade to Windows 10, you will want to contact the computer vendor to find out if it was included with your purchase.

If you do not have a free upgrade available, Microsoft offers a Windows 10 license separate from a new computer purchase for approximately $200 per computer. If you decide to go this route, make sure to purchase the license from a reliable re-seller such as Best Buy.

Whether you have a free upgrade available or you purchase a license, keep in mind installation can be complex and time consuming. You may want to consult an IT professional to complete the install to ensure a successful upgrade and avoid a system failure.

Quantity of Devices

Business owners with hundreds or thousands of devices will need to take a different approach in coordination with IT professionals. If you have a large number of devices to update, but you don’t currently staff an IT department, you will want to reach out to an IT consultant sooner rather than later as the deadline to upgrade is fast approaching.

As you decide the route in which you will upgrade your device’s operating system, it is also a good time to assess the cyber risk strategy you have in place to protect your business. If you are looking for more information or have questions regarding data protection, cyber security or cyber insurance, reach out to our team today to discuss your concerns. We are happy to help you talk through and form a strategy for securing your business' data.

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A collection of articles from the McClone team with the helpful knowledge and insights to ensure your organization is well protected.