Farewell to Windows 7 and Server 2008

Sep 30, 2021 | Blog

On January 14, 2020, Microsoft will officially discontinue support for both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.  This means that no new updates will be released for them, including security updates.  Any equipment that continues to use Windows 7 and Server 2008 will be vulnerable to exploits as new exploits are exposed without being fixed.

A History of Windows 7 and Server 2008

Released in 2009, Windows 7 was a huge success for Microsoft.  Over the next 6-7 years it was the primary operating system sold with new computers.  Even though Windows 10 now has has the majority of the market share, Windows 7 is still used on somewhere between 150 million and 650 million computers, down from about 1 Billion at the height of its use.

Windows Server 2008 was released in 2008 and was built on the same code base as Windows Vista.  In 2009 Microsoft released 2008 R2, which was built on the same platform as Windows 7.  Both versions (2008 and 2008 R2) will reach their end of life on January 14, 2020.

Do You Need to Update Windows 7 and Server 2008 or Buy Equipment?

For businesses, the end of support means that you need to either replace your Windows 7 computers or upgrade them to Windows 10 if the hardware supports it.  Windows 10 is $200 per license, so it might be more cost effective to replace equipment that is more than 4 years old rather than upgrading the operating system.  

If you have Server 2008, you need to upgrade your server to a newer version.  Upgrading a server is significantly more complicated, expensive, and time consuming than upgrading a PC and you need to make sure you have the proper edition [LINK] and licensing [LINK]. 

Security Compliance and Unsupported Software

Every state now has data breach laws, which means that every business likely now falls under some sort of regulatory compliance. Some regulations like PCI an HIPAA have very specific requirements related to keeping computers and servers updated. Businesses using an unsupported software program like Windows 7 or Server 2008 are likely not in compliance and could end up in hot water.  

Are there cases where you won’t be able to update?  Of course, but you must have a compelling reason for continuing to use the old software. You also have to document that reason and a plan to mitigate the risks resulting from utilization of an out-of-support operating system, including a plan to replace it as soon as possible.

Timing is Everything

Since these changes are effective almost a year from this being published, you may be thinking that you have plenty of time to update your systems. So why get in a hurry?  We strongly caution against this view.  Computer manufacturers are frequently low on inventory during December and computers that would normally be delivered in a couple of days can be delayed weeks or even a months. We expect equipment delays in 2019 to be worse than normal and would not be surprised to see delivery dates for orders placed in November 2019 slip beyond January 14, 2020.  

If you are upgrading a server, the installation and migration will require significantly more time and effort.  We’ve seen server deliveries take months during non-peak demand times if certain parts become scarce, and we definitely expect that to be a problem this coming year.  If you have Server 2008 or Server 2008 R2 deployed in your environment, now is the time to start talking to your IT staff or provider about upgrading.

Would you like to assess your computer hardware and software vulnerabilities? Gif us a call  at (844) 448-7767 or fill out this form to find out more today.