165 Days Left, So Don't Wait

The following was originally published in the August 4, 2019 editions of Foster's and Seacoast Sunday.

There are only 165 days left until both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 are officially “End of Life” according to Microsoft. I have written before about this and want to be sure this is top of mind for anyone who may not have taken action yet.

What is the significance of this? On Jan. 14, 2020, Microsoft will stop issuing updates and officially supporting the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems.

From Microsoft’s own web site, the end of support for Windows 7 means the following:

“If you continue to use Windows 7 after support has ended, your PC will still work, but it may become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but Microsoft will no longer provide the following support for your business: No technical support, no software updates, no security updates. To avoid security risks and viruses, Microsoft recommends you upgrade to Windows 10.”

For Windows Server 2008, Microsoft states the following:

“Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are approaching the end of their support lifecycle. This means that as of the dates in the table below (the date being Jan. 14, 2020) there will be no additional free security updates on-premises, non-security updates, free support options, online technical content updates. Customers who use Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 products and services should migrate to Microsoft Azure to take advantage of three additional years of critical and important security updates at no additional charge and modernize when ready. For environments other than Azure, we recommend customers upgrade to the latest version before the deadline. For customers who cannot meet the end-of-support deadline, they may purchase Extended Security Updates to keep server workloads protected until they upgrade (some restrictions apply).

To simplify these messages, here is what this means. If you are running Windows 7 PCs at home or in your business, you should upgrade them to Windows 10 before the end of the year. Don’t wait! If you have waited, it may already be too late as your IT team, whether internal or outsourced, may have too many projects scheduled to get the work done. If you have not had the discussion about making this upgrade, do it now. If you don’t get Windows 7 out of your environment in time, you’ll be more at risk to get hacked. You can be sure that hackers are already gearing up to scan the world for vulnerable Windows 7 computers in early 2020 that they can leverage to do their dirty work.

For any businesses still running servers on Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2, Microsoft has provided a similar path for you. You have two options to consider. Option 1 is to upgrade these servers to the latest version of Windows Server. Option 2 is Microsoft will allow you to migrate these servers from your office into the Microsoft Azure Cloud. If you move these servers to Azure, Microsoft will provide an additional three years of support, buying you time to plan your eventual upgrade.

While the migration to the Azure Cloud is being offered at no charge, keep in mind that running these servers in the Microsoft Cloud will incur monthly charges. You should do an analysis to be sure you understand the costs of each option and make an informed decision.

There is a third option for servers and that is paying Microsoft to continue to provide critical security updates for them, until you can get them upgraded. If the past is any indication, the cost for this will be fairly expensive and may not be an option for small and mid-size organizations.

Therefore, like with Windows 7, the best option is to upgrade or move to the Azure Cloud.

Whichever route you pursue, don’t delay another day. IT departments and outsourced IT partners are already busy and will only be busier between now and the end of the year. If you aren’t yet scheduled, you may miss the deadline. I can’t say it any more simply. Don’t wait! Be safe.