Opinion, Technical 14th February 2019

Prepare for Windows 7 End of Life

Rebecca Shaw

Last year, Microsoft announced that its popular Windows 7 product will soon be facing end of life. This means that come 14 January 2020, Microsoft will no longer fix presented flaws and bugs. You will still be able to use the product – but at your own risk to infections, denial of service attacks and data theft.

End of life software can be a massive challenge for businesses. Take the already discontinued Windows XP for example – it’s estimated that up to 7% of the world’s computers are still using the outdated system – that’s 7% of a billion computers! And according to Spiceworks, Windows 7 is currently in use by nearly 70% of businesses worldwide.

Change comes slowly and navigating the impending end of life deadline will rely largely on careful planning. Examining your company’s current infrastructure and identifying what you will need to update will help you to create a plan for a smooth transition. The sooner you begin this process the more strategic you can be in terms of budgeting.

Sometimes the most difficult part is just knowing where to begin. So, we’ve compiled a list of things to consider when updating a legacy system (and not just for Windows 7).

1. Planning

Upgrading to a new operating system takes time and careful planning, particularly if you have numerous machines and systems to assess. For a smooth and successful transition to a new operating system, you need to:

  • Identify machines that need to be upgraded or replaced
  • Develop a timeline and budget for upgrades and replacements
  • Implement security controls to separate critical systems that cannot be upgraded or removed
  • Plan for employee training to learn the new system

2. Perform cost-benefit analysis

Thinking of the investment required for an update is enough to drive many people away. But the true cost of slow systems can be surprisingly high for any business. Slow workstations are estimated to drop productivity by 2.75% (13 minutes per day, or 5.5 days per year). The problem is exacerbated with slow server equipment. As a result, the one-year ROI for replacing old systems is often 5X to 10X. The optimised workflow of an updated system could lead to huge savings for your company in the long run.

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3. Look at your rental/lease options

Buy what appreciates, rent what depreciates. A great option for businesses who need their IT software and hardware straight away but don’t have the cash to outlay, is to go with a rental agreement. This option is often chosen due to:

  • The flexibility to add extra equipment or extend the lease term
  • The ability to make partial or full upgrades during the rental term
  • The ability to make structured and tax-deductible payments
  • Eliminating the risk of your investment eventually becoming obsolete.

4. Avoid Data Loss

When you decide to get rid of your old computer in favour of a new model, you need to decide how you will move files from the old to the new. You might use a flash drive as a way of backing up critical files. Updating a company-wide system is no different: how are you protecting vital information during the transition? 

5. Communication and Change Management

It’s important to update your system in bite-sized pieces to help employees adjust to a large change and reduce the possibility of workflow halting bugs. It’s better to guide people through change in a way that sustains and embeds the new operating system and new way of working.

Waiting until an employee says, “with the old system I did it like this, what do I do now?” is a symptom of a reactive approach you should avoid. Having a workshop where everyone is free to ask questions can expedite the learning process.

6. Beta Testing

Have you ever spent five hours on a project that was supposed to take four? It’s rare to complete a project without any hiccups along the way, and upgrading a legacy system is no different. Instead of going live to your whole company with the updated version, consider only having a small group try it out. This way all the speed bumps are taken care of before the system update “grand-opening.”

7. Enlist professional support

Updating a legacy system is cumbersome. It involves deciding who should do what, creating a timeline, calculating your potential ROI – and the list goes on. If your business is still using Windows 7, you would be wise to begin planning for its end of life date. The sooner you begin planning your business’s transition to Windows 10 the more time you’ll have to address issues whilst Windows 7 is still being supported.

AfterDark Technology have local professionals who can assist you in that planning and help you create a schedule for the transition. We can help you implement solutions that will enable a smooth transition to a more modern operating system. Contact us to get started!

About Rebecca Shaw

Rebecca is a passionate marketing and change management professional with roots firmly in the ICT sector. She is a true believer in the power of communications to deliver transformation and connection.