Windows 7 and 8 will soon reach end of life, so look to Windows 10

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All good things come to an end. Microsoft Windows 7 is still a hugely popular operating system. However, the clock is ticking – and the Redmond-based IT giant will stop supporting the platform in the not-so-distant future, just like it has with other systems, such as Windows XP.

Each Microsoft product has a lifecycle and IT managers must be aware when system support is due to end. Failure to pay attention to these deadlines could have serious consequences, as we will see below.

So, what will happen when time runs out and your operating systems is no longer supported? We look at the challenges your business faces, while also considering how long will it take for other currently-supported versions of Windows to suffer a similar fate.

Why do operating systems reach end of life?

Body Text ImageThe lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when the technology is no longer supported. It might seem unusual for a firm to stop supporting a product. However, the cost of providing never-ending support would be prohibitive.

As Microsoft updates and then releases new versions of its Windows operating system, so older editions drop off the support list. Microsoft released Windows 10, the latest version of its operating system, in July 2015. It is a platform that boasts a range of benefits, including a revised user interface and as-a-service updates.

Many users are keen to take advantage of these new features, and many IT directors are helping their business make the move to Windows 10. However, not all CIOs are moving as swiftly. For those laggards, several important dates loom large on the horizon.

How long will it take for current versions of Windows to reach end-of-life?

Support for Windows Vista will cease at the beginning of April. Vista was not a hugely successful system when compared to XP, which preceded it, and Windows 7, which followed. However, it still has an install base and you might find PCs running the platform in your own business.

Of greater concern to most IT managers will be the end of support for Windows 7 and 8. Microsoft has already signaled end-of-support dates for both systems, with Windows 7 support due to end January 2020 and Windows 8 set for a January 2023 end-of-life date.

Evidence suggests far too many businesses routinely leave the switch to a new operating system to the very last minute. By leaving it late to update, your business risks using technology that slides into obsolesce – and it also fails to take advantage of the latest toolsets earlier.

What will happen when your operating systems are no longer supported?

Research suggests many CIOs are still grappling with unsupported versions of Windows XP, never mind installing later operating systems, such as Windows 7, 8 and 10. Windows XP still accounts for about nine per cent of desktop operating systems globally, according to NetMarketShare.

Without support, your operating system will not be updated and patched – and your business could put its critical information at risk. Your organisation will no longer receive security updates that protect PCs from harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software.

Most desktops currently run on Windows 7 (43.3 per cent), with Windows 10 accounting for almost a quarter of computers (24.3 per cent). For those yet to make the switch, the clock is ticking – now would be a good time to start thinking about phasing out Windows 7 or 8 in favour of Windows 10.

Click here to view the Windows lifecycle fact sheet to learn key dates about when to upgrade or make other changes to your software.




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Mark Samuels

Mark Samuels

Mark Samuels is a business journalist specialising in IT leadership issues. Formerly editor at CIO Connect and features editor of Computing, he has written for various organisations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit, Guardian Government Computing and Times Higher Education. Mark is also a contributor for CloudPro, ZDNetUK, TechRepublic, ITPro, Computer Weekly, CBR, Financial Director, Accountancy Age, Educause, Inform and CIONET. Mark has extensive experience in writing on the topic of how CIO’s use and adopt technology in business.

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Tags: PC lifecycle management, Software, Technology

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