As with all products, there will come a point when the manufacturers decide no more. The point when they no longer support or make further releases for the product. That moment is looming for Microsoft products, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. As of January 14th 2020, Microsoft will stop supporting these two platforms.
Since its release in 2009, Windows 7 has remained an incredibly successful operating system. Recently, a report from Netmarketshare found that 39% of PCs are still running Windows 7. This means there are a lot of people who need to consider upgrading their software. And who need to think about doing so soon, before the end-of-life date arrives.
Windows Server 2008 is the same, and with time dwindling, it is becoming increasingly pressing to make the change if you haven’t already. There are, of course, several reasons why should seriously consider this, namely to maintain security and compliance.
So, what’s happening?
Like many Microsoft products, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 have both followed a set product lifecycle. Both are now approaching their end-of-life dates, at which point support ceases completely, including paid support. The date is set as January 14th 2020, after then Microsoft will not provide any further updates, including security updates for exposed vulnerabilities.
Currently, both products are in a period known as ‘extended support’. This will run up until the end-of-life date is reached. No new features are released during this time, but security issues and bugs will be patched and resolved.
How does this affect you?
It is true that you will be able to use both platforms after their end-of-life date, however, it really is inadvisable. By doing so, you leave your firm vulnerable to security issues, fail to meet compliance standards and forgo any support you may need.
Instead, it’s recommended to update your servers and software as soon as possible. By making this change early, there is ample time to resolve any unexpected issues which crop up.
As software applications age and go out of service, it becomes harder and harder to support those using them. Not only due to lesser product knowledge but because systems required to do so are no longer compatible.
Why do you need to update?
It is with good reason that Microsoft is pushing customers to upgrade their software. Microsoft recommends upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and from Windows Server 2008 to Microsoft Azure. This will give your firm a number of benefits but ultimately will give you protection from known weaknesses.
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, is that by not upgrading, you leave yourself vulnerable to cyber-attacks. As Microsoft no longer release security updates, known vulnerabilities are left unpatched. With viruses and malware developing all the time, not having these in place leaves your system and network susceptible.
As we saw with the WannaCry ransomware, those who stayed using outdated software way beyond the end-of-life date suffered from serious ransomware hacks. As bugs are uncovered in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, there is a high chance this could happen again.
Whilst in the short term, remaining with the same systems may seem like a money saver, if an attack was to happen, this could cost far more than the initial price.
Another consideration should be around compliance. Through continuing to use weakened software, you expose yourself to data breaches. Without securely protected client data, you risk compliance with the GDPR and other data security policies.
Whilst change can seem daunting, it is important when it comes to your firms IT needs. Keeping your software and infrastructure up-to-date will allow you to benefit from improved security and compliance, as well as a host of innovative new tools which more modern systems can provide. Without doing so, your firm will be exposed to vulnerabilities others may look to exploit, putting you essentially at the mercy of hackers. The approaching Microsoft end-of-life date offers a deadline for when to have upgraded from both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.