By PowerBuy // 18 March 2015 // Related Categories: Tips
With Windows 7 more than five years old and the release of Windows 10 scheduled for later in 2015, should you be preparing to upgrade the operating system (OS) on your business systems?
Despite Windows 8 being released more than two years ago, Windows 7 is still the dominant desktop OS. More than 55 per cent of computers browsing the web use the older OS, compared to less than 14 per cent that run Windows 8 or 8.1, according to Net Applications.
That’s perhaps not surprising given Windows 8’s lukewarm reception, with many users arguing the new interface made it more suited to tablets than conventional laptops and PCs. And if Windows 7 is still working well for your business systems, why should you upgrade?
The end of mainstream support
The answer lies in Microsoft’s Windows support policy. Put simply, the company provides two support phases:
- Mainstream support, during which Microsoft provides regular feature and security updates, and significant upgrades called ‘service packs’
- ‘Extended support’, when Microsoft winds back its support and development, providing only essential security updates.
When extended support expires, the product reaches ‘end of support’ – which means no more security updates. This is important because highly complex operating systems need to be continually ‘patched’ as new vulnerabilities come to light. For example, Windows XP reached end of support in April 2014, so if you’re still using this OS, your computer may be highly vulnerable to security breaches.
Fortunately, Microsoft allows a generous amount of time before an OS reaches end of support, and it publishes a timeline to help businesses plan their upgrades – see the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.
Five years to go
The good news is that extended support for Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) expires in January 2020, so there’s no need to rush an upgrade.
However, if your computers are ageing, slowing down or becoming less reliable, the Windows 10 release might be an opportune time to upgrade. Deploying a new OS will require training and some disruption to your business, but upgrading both the hardware and OS at the same time will at least minimise any productivity loss.
In return, Windows 10 offers a number of productivity enhancements. In particular, it has a vastly improved interface that automatically adapts to the device it runs on, offering a traditional Windows 7-style desktop for PCs and laptops, or a touch-friendly, Windows 8-style interface for tablets.
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