Windows 7. Today is the end of support

Image: Windows 7 EOL
By Tom Bestow on

Windows 7 support ends today

January 14th 2020 is an otherwise unremarkable day to most people. In the IT world however, it marks the long-foretold end of an era; The era of Windows 7.

Today Microsoft have officially ended mainstream support for Windows 7 after the operating systems impressive lifespan of 10 years, 6 months and 5 days. In contrast, Windows XP (released 25th October 2001) lasted 12 years, 5 months and 14 days. So, Windows 7 didn’t quite manage to take Windows XPs crown of longest serving Windows OS. Amazingly, Windows 7 still has a desktop OS market share of 26-33%, with Windows 10 at 47-65% depending on which site you get your statistics from. Leading to the question, what happens now?

What does this mean looking ahead?

In the consumer market Windows 7 will be unsupported and no more patches will be released, opening the door for more security risks and vulnerabilities with the door opening more each passing day.

What can businesses do?

In the corporate area though, companies have a few choices to get themselves off Windows 7 or at least protect themselves better.

Option 1: Pay Microsoft

You can of course, pay Microsoft (per device) for Extended Support Updates (ESU) to keep Windows 7 patched with security fixes. ESU updates are delivered to Windows clients through the same methods as before (Windows Update, WSUS, WUfB, etc…). Clients will become eligible for ESU patches through the installation of a new MAK of VL license key. This will be provided upon purchase and is installed alongside the existing OS license.

Microsoft have provided a very useful FAQ you can read here about Windows 7 ESU. An important note is that Windows E5 and Microsoft 365 E5 subscriptions receive 1 Year of Windows 7 Security updates for free. You can read more about this here.

It must be highlighted that while ESU provide OS security patches, any software or hardware issues will not be covered by the support agreement.

Option 2: Upgrade to Windows 10

Have you started testing Windows 10 yet? Have you begun your Windows 10 rollout? Have you hit issues that are preventing you from getting it out there? If you are at any of these stages, don’t worry. You are not alone.

There are multiple options and tools to help you on the upgrade path to Windows 10, enough to suit any companies need and budget (within reason). Detailing them all would make this blog incredibly long, so I’ve just listed them here in brief. You can always speak to us if you want some more information! Here are just some of the tools and options available:

  • Manually use Windows 10 in-place upgrade
  • SCCM Image deployment (MDT works as well)
  • SCCM to deploy in-place upgrade
  • Windows Autopilot
  • Windows Device Analytics
  • Microsoft FastTrack.

Of course, most of these will require you to have relevant licensing in place.

Option 3: Migrate Windows 7 to WVD

The Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a relatively new offering from Microsoft that allows traditional RDS to be run in the cloud. Mark Ison has written an excellent blog series on WVD, the first part you can read here.

As part of the WVD service, Windows 7 is eligible to be run as an Azure VM for the first time. On top of that, Microsoft automatically enables ESU on these VMs and will keep it enabled for up to 3 years at no additional cost. So, whilst we wouldn’t like to recommend staying on Windows 7 and just moving it to WVD, we have met with several clients that require single purpose Windows 7 machines due to old, incompatible software. WVD would be the perfect option for these kinds of scenarios.

Want to know more?

If you need help with a Windows 7 related problem you may have please use the form below to get in touch.

If you have interest around anything Microsoft 365 or Azure cloud / hybrid IT we host regular events so please do check our schedule of current seminars, webinars and events.  We also post regular blogs on the latest updates and expert advice on Microsoft 365, Cloud and Hybrid IT, User Adoption and the Power Platform, so please do follow us.

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