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10 Years ago, Microsoft released an operating system that people liked, that is a big reason that there is still a huge usage of Windows 7 in production in businesses all over the world. Over 70% of businesses still have Windows 7 in production.
For better or worse, Microsoft has a 10-year support plan for all software that was published in that era so, in January of 2020, the end of support for Windows 7 is coming. This product lifecycle means that Windows 7 is officially a dead, unsupported product. This end of life also applies to Office 2010, Server 2008, and Exchange 2010 as well as several other products.
What Does This Mean?
In January 2020, Microsoft will stop releasing all security updates for these products, and that means that you are at high risk of viruses and other exploits. Any newly found exploits will not be fixed or patched by Microsoft. It is likely that hackers will hold off for some time before taking advantage of security holes they discover until after the expiration of support so that their hacks are never patched and they have access to unsecured systems.
Software Vendors will rapidly stop testing their updates and products on Windows 7 so software may break if updated. These updates will mean that you may be forced to run not only unsecured Windows but also out of date applications increasing your risk even more.
Any organization subject to any security regulation like PCI, HIPAA, etc. will be out of compliance with even one Windows 7 machine on their production network, meaning network mitigations will need to be made at the very least.
Will My Computer Stop Working?
No, your computer will keep working; it will just be at high risk of viruses, malware, and exploits. Also, any important software that is updated likely will not run correctly on Windows 7.
Do I Need To Replace Windows 7?
The short answer is that we would HIGHLY recommend that you replace all Windows 7 machines with machines running Windows 10.
The long answer is that we are your partners and understand the considerations of running a small practice. We will continue to be your partner no matter what your decision is on this issue.
If you are a time/materials based client and you choose to continue to use unsupported software (Windows 7, Server 2008, Office 2010), we will have you acknowledge in writing that you have been advised that this is a bad idea, violates HIPAA security rules, and you are choosing to do it anyway.
Managed service clients with fixed monthly pricing per user or device will need to sign an agreement stating that you have been advised of the risks, and the violation of HIPAA security rules, and that any issues resulting from the decision not to upgrade will be billable at the client rate and are not covered under the managed services agreement.
What are my options?
In most cases, this is a good time for a computer refresh for users that have Windows 7 computers. Computers generally only last five years, and it is likely that any computers that shipped with Windows 7 are due for an upgrade.
Some computers can likely also be upgraded to Windows 10 depending on their specifications. Keep in mind that license for Windows 10 Professions is $199, so a new PC may still be a better option if an upgrade is recommended.
It is our experience that Windows 10 does not run well on a spinning hard disk and needs a faster solid-state disk to work as intended. This would look something like this: $90 for a new solid-state disk, $199 for the Windows 10 Pro license and $199 for the upgrade labor. You are at $488, and a new Windows 10 PC can be obtained for about $750 plus installation. It is unlikely that extending the life of the computer for another year or two makes sense in comparison to the upgrade.
After it is decided what the upgrade or replacement path is for each computer, we need to schedule the time to migrate the user’s data and perform the upgrade. This project will take several hours per computer, and we are offering a flat rate per user at under our hourly rate for this project.
Microsoft Office 2010 or Earlier
You should also consider an upgrade to Microsoft 365 Business at $20.00 per user/month to get the latest version of the Office desktop apps (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, Publisher) along with enterprise-grade email, email security, HIPAA compliant email encryption, cloud file sharing, and much more. Microsoft 365 Business always ensures up to date office applications and a Windows license for each user and their devices.
Lets set up a time to discuss how this affects your practice and get you positioned to handle this gracefully!