End is nigh for Windows 7

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Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in 2015. This means the operating system (OS) still receives Microsoft’s full technical and security services.

However, 14 January 2020 marks the end of these support services. Still, it’s estimated that Windows 7 is running on hundreds of millions of computers across the globe.

While the OS will remain functional for the foreseeable future, Microsoft South Africa said in a statement that after 14 January, machines still running the old OS would no longer receive “non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates”.

Microsoft also said continuing to use Windows 7 after the 14th may expose a business to risks such as non-compliance with data protection regulations and higher costs when purchasing custom support solutions for unsupported software. There’s also the risk of being left vulnerable to malware.

Research by Kaspersky Lab found 98% of the computers hit by the WannaCry virus since 2017 were running some version of Windows 7. The virus’s creators took advantage of patch vulnerabilities within the OS.

Weighing the costs

Andrew Varcoe, senior help-desk engineer at Dial-A-Nerd, told ITWeb: “Windows 10 is said to be the last Windows you’ll receive.

“Its plan is to send users build updates instead of rebuilding an entire OS. They’ll be releasing an updated build annually for enterprises. This means getting support solutions and better security.

“This ensures compatibility with newer software and hardware and at the end of the day, if your data's important to you, the upfront costs are more affordable than trying to recover lost/stolen data.”

Windows 10 Pro costs from R3 999 per licence, while 365 ProPlus costs R182 per month and covers five PC installations. Enterprise customers can find information on recommended steps for upgrading by visiting the Modern Desktop Deployment Center.

If upgrading is not a viable option, a path of last resort for enterprises is to buy the Extended Security Update licence, which will provide technical and security updates for up to three years.

At the time of writing, it still appears that one can upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge, if you have a licensed copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. The download page is here.

  • Additional reporting by Matthew Burbidge.
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