‘All good things come to an end’ is not typically what you want to hear about your operating system and IT infrastructure.

Nevertheless, on January 14, 2020, support ends for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, and there will be no more patches or security updates for the retired products.

This is a major problem for organizations who plan to continue using Windows 7 and Server 2008 without a strategy to refresh their systems, as it leaves them vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks and compliance breaches.

It’s an even bigger problem when you consider how many users run their current applications on these soon-to-be outdated products. Some estimate that as many as 29% to nearly 40% of all Windows PCs will continue to run Windows 7 at its retirement.

So before closing your office door and screaming into the void, here’s why this is a good thing:

Modernize your applications at your own speed

For organizations currently running Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, Microsoft offers three options:

  1. Upgrade to Windows Server 2016
  2. Re-host workloads to the cloud
  3. Or stay on your current system and Microsoft will provide extended security updates for three years past the January 14th end-of-life date

It appears that Microsoft understands not everyone has the luxury of dropping everything and upgrading their IT. Therefore, Microsoft offers an on-ramp to migrating to Azure in the next three years for current customers.

“This is a great opportunity for organizations who want to reap the benefits of the cloud, but need more time to start implementation,” says Brian Kirsch, SVP of Sales and Client Engagement at Onepath. “Moving to the cloud allows for more consistent IT refreshes, which ensures technology continuity and removes the burden of refresh cycles with capital outlay.”

“This is a great opportunity for organizations who want to reap the benefits of the cloud, but need more time to start implementation.” —Brian Kirsch, SVP of Sales and Client Engagement at Onepath

If you’re tied down to older applications, this is a chance to properly design and execute a plan to move your business forward.

For on premise servers that need more time to upgrade, you will be able to purchase Extended Security Updates for three more years with Software Assurance or Subscription licenses under an Enterprise Agreement enrollment.

Improve your IT infrastructure

PCs are lighter, faster, and more affordable than ever, so it makes sense for users to transition to new devices with Windows 10 installed. Modernized infrastructure and software make it easy to switch to a virtual desktop setup and get rid of IT inventory backlog that’s holding you down.

Plus, once these legacy programs are retired, replacement parts for existing hardware running Windows Server 2008 (R2) will become more difficult to find. In fact, we’ve already seen this starting to happen with our clients.

Exploits and newly identified system bugs in the operating system will impact servers utilizing newly unsupported technology, potentially crippling the multi-user experience and slowing server performance. This creates quantifiable risk, as most organizations don’t factor this in until a security event happens.

For organizations unable to migrate to Windows 10 quickly, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recommends that you :

  • Prevent access to non-trusted services and removable media
  • Convert systems to thin clients
  • Remove access for remote workers
  • Apply anti-malware and intrusion detection tools

Whether you decide to update your software now or hold off a little longer, be sure that you’re not using unsupported software. “Malware can spread much more easily on obsolete platforms because, without security updates, known vulnerabilities will remain unpatched,” says NCSC.

Reduce overall risk to your organization

Did we mention it’s a security risk to run unsupported software?

Well, it’s worth repeating—leaving Windows 7 and Server 2008(R2) installed past the support deadline directly affects your business from a risk perspective.

Don’t take that chance. The decision to modify your software and infrastructure is an important one. Waiting to begin when support has already expired could make the transition unnecessarily difficult and costly.

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