Windows 7 users running out of time

The trusty old Windows 7 operating system is still hugely popular worldwide, even though it was first released 10 years ago.

Unfortunately however Microsoft has announced it will be discontinuing support for Windows 7 with effect from January 2020, at which point all software updates, security updates and technical support will cease.

If your small business is still running Windows 7, now is the time to start planning for a change to your OS, and the most logical solution is an upgrade to Windows 10.

World’s most popular

Windows 8 has received such mixed reviews since it first hit the market in 2012 that it’s not surprising many contented Windows 7 users have chosen to stick with what they know best, but the latest version of Microsoft’s desktop OS is the fastest, most secure and most functional and user-friendly yet, and Windows 10 is now the most popular OS in the world.

If you’re still not sold then you theoretically could opt to remain on Windows 7, but without software and security updates your business will be at considerably greater risk of attack by viruses and other malware. In fact the end of official support may prove to be a big incentive for malicious users to target users of Windows 7 more than ever before.

(NB: Some organisations with Microsoft Volume Licensing deals will still be able to obtain security updates until 2023, but Microsoft will charge for these will on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year.)

Latest and best

You may also be tempted to choose Windows 8 instead of 10 as a cost-saving measure. However it won’t be too long before that version too reaches the end of its life, so if you’re going to the trouble of upgrading your OS then you’re better off migrating directly to the latest and best version available.

Windows 10 offers lots of improvements over its predecessors, including shorter boot and wake-from-sleep times, the Cortana voice assistant, and the ability to run Universal apps (which can run across multiple Microsoft products including PCs, tablets, smartphones and Xbox). It is also much more secure: for example, it has a special new feature to thwart attacks from ransomware (malicious software that threatens to withhold or destroy the victim’s data unless a ransom is paid).

For those who like the improved performance and features of Windows 10 but still prefer the look and feel of Windows 7, there are a number of things you can do using third-party software and built-in settings to recreate the familiar interface, including the Start Menu, wallpaper and taskbar.

Time for new workstations?

While it may be possible to install Windows 10 on older workstations, it is not recommended. Not only are the latest PCs much faster and more powerful, the average price for a great PC is considerably lower than it was just a few years ago.

Microsoft says the minimum specification for Windows 10 is:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800 x 600 resolution

If your PCs don’t meet these specifications then they won’t be able to run Windows 10 – and if they only just meets the requirements, Windows 10 won’t run very well, so consider budgeting for new hardware when upgrading.

A big step

No matter how many what type of network and how many workstations and other devices you may have, changing your business’s OS is a major step that will take planning, time and effort, and is not without risk.

A good place to start is with a comprehensive migration plan based on an inventory of all your hardware and software assets.

Hopefully you already have a 3-2-1 backup strategy in place for your valuable business data. While the upgrade to Windows 10 is non-destructive (you shouldn’t lose data or installed programs), you should ensure you have full up-to-date backups before beginning.

Whether information technology is your speciality or not, consider seeking professional help to see your business through this transition as smoothly as possible.

For advice from experts on all the latest and best hardware and software solutions for your small or medium-sized business contact EMPR Solutions, who have a 20-year track record in serving the Australian IT industry.

Windows 10 may be Microsoft’s most powerful operating system, but it’s also their most complex yet. EMPR Solutions can help you customise your experience, ensuring that you get maximum performance and make the most of new features such as Cortana, the Edge web browser and multiple desktops.

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