By Ryan Squires Posted November 26, 2019
The venerable Windows® 7 faces the End of Life (EOL) distinction on Jan. 14, 2020. Released on Nov. 30, 2007 for business use, Windows 7 is still used by 48% of SMBs as reported by Spiceworks. With so many organizations still leveraging Windows 7, what does its EOL mean for you and your organization?
Windows 7 Popularity
There is a reason that Windows 7 held on for this long. For starters, when Microsoft® released Windows 7, it replaced one of the most despised OSs that Microsoft ever released — Windows Vista.
Windows Vista came out of the gate with a handful of issues. It had major compatibility problems that prevented people from using their computers in the ways that they had grown accustomed to with Windows XP. A lot of software and hardware that people had already purchased did not work with Vista, which caused users to complain so much that Dell rescinded its commitment to Windows Vista and began selling Windows XP licenses again.
As a result, many people held on to their XP machines, happy to continue using them until Windows 7 shipped. It then fell on Microsoft to ensure that Windows 7 worked well and did not face the same backlash that Windows Vista endured.
Windows 7 Early Days
People loved Windows 7 when Microsoft released it. Lifewire notes that one of the biggest reasons for its appeal was that it worked out of the box, with support for a wide range of components due to the fact that a significant number of device drivers came preinstalled. Users loved Windows 7 because it delivered increased speed and stability improvements over Windows Vista.
Aside from under the hood tuning, Windows 7 also included usability enhancements that boosted user productivity. For example, it was the first time that users could pin applications to the taskbar for easy access. In use, app pinning functions a bit like Microsoft’s version of the macOS® dock.
Perhaps the most useful feature that Microsoft introduced to Windows 7 was Aero Snap. Aero Snap enabled users to “snap” windows to different portions of their screen. If a user needed to reference data from one document and draft it into another, all they had to do was snap one window to the left side of the screen, and it would take up exactly half of the screen so you could snap another right next to it. Users still utilize this feature on Windows 10 machines and it is extremely helpful.
But, even the most-loved Windows OSs face EOL — Windows 7 included.
Windows 7 End of Life (EOL)
Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended back in 2015, so EOL for Windows 7 should not surprise anybody. For those that continued to hold on Windows 7, it has received regular security updates and patches to ensure that the OS was safe from bad actors. Now, that free support from Microsoft will end.
In order to continue using a safe, patched version of Windows 7, Microsoft will continue to offer support in the form of per-device fees for software patches. This solution can equate to a significant amount of money depending on how many Windows 7 computers you have in your environment. For some organizations, that number could represent a major money sink with reports stating that 39% of computers still run Windows 7.
Options to Replace Windows 7
There are many options that organizations can look into to continue utilizing supported software. Of course, some represent free transitions, and others do not.
- Update to Windows 10 – Depending on your environment, this option can make a lot of sense. The key here is to make sure that your older system(s) can handle the demands of a new operating system.
- Install a Linux Distro on Former Windows 7 Device – There are plenty of Linux options out there for older systems. One of the most popular is Ubuntu, but depending on how old the system is you may want to leverage Lubuntu, which is a lightweight Ubuntu distro.
- Upgrade to a new Windows / Mac / Linux Device – Of course, there is always the option to replace existing equipment with newer, faster systems. Many users are switching to macOS® as the result of using the OS at home, and DevOps personnel might want to use Linux. Of course, many new Windows 10 laptops are feature-rich and powerful.
Support All Major OSs
No matter what you and your users decide to do, this time of change brings opportunity for you to reevaluate other aspects of your environment. For instance, is your Windows Server instance facing EOL too? Windows Server 2008 is undergoing EOL on the same day as Windows 7. With these two cornerstones still representing a significant number of IT components no longer supported by Microsoft, it is no surprise that TechRepublic reports that 50% of people said their office was moderately or completely outdated.
For many, the time to update is now. But IT admins need to ensure that whatever OSs their users select, following Windows 7 EOL, are capable of support via the identity provider (IdP). An innovative cloud solution, Directory-as-a-Service®, enables this capability and supports a wide range of operating systems including macOS and Linux. And if your Windows Server instance doesn’t need replacing in the near term, you can still leverage Directory-as-a-Service to extend your AD credentials to just about any of the IT resources you utilize, all from a single solution.
Learn More About Directory-as-a-Service
Ready to modernize your IT environment to keep up with Windows 7 End of Life? Contact us today to learn more, or sign up for a free account and see how Directory-as-a-Service is reimagining Active Directory.