Easing Windows 7 End-Of-Life Blues
Are You Prepared for January 14, 2020?
Many organizations find themselves struggling when mission-critical software is declared “end-of-life” (EOL) and is no longer supported by the vendor. This struggle is all the more painful in the case of Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows and Windows Server, since updating the entire operating system generally has a greater impact than updating any single application.
Many businesses are going to be facing this quandary in 2020, as Microsoft has announced that many products will reach end-of-life (EOL) on January 14, 2020 and will no longer be eligible for Extended Support. Affected products include:
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 2008
- Small Business Server 2011
- Office 2010
- Exchange 2010
Once Extended Support is no longer available, Microsoft will not provide tech support, fixes, or security updates and patches. If you keep using the software, you’re really on your own.
Do I Have To…?
While you may be tempted to postpone the effort and expense of migrating to new operating systems and other EOL software, doing so exposes your business to substantial risk of incurring far greater costs in the long run. Even if the software is running smoothly now, don’t be fooled into thinking you can easily continue using it indefinitely. Here are a few potential problems you may encounter if you continue using end-of-life software:
- If for any reason you encounter a fatal error or other problem, there may not be a way to fix it. Not only would this result in substantial downtime – migrating to newer software could end up being considerably more difficult and costly once your old software is no longer working.
- If you make any hardware or configuration changes that cause something to quit working, Microsoft won’t help you figure out how to fix the problem.
- If a security vulnerability is found in software that no longer enjoys Extended Support, Microsoft is unlikely to provide a patch, leaving you open to attack from hackers. Such an attack may well result in substantial downtime. You may find it difficult or impossible to protect your system against further attacks. You could lose sensitive corporate data and may end up facing lawsuits for failing to provide proper protection for PII and other sensitive customer information. Last but not least, your company’s reputation could suffer a severe blow, and you could lose customers.
Moreover, hackers love it when companies fail to update critical software because they know that their exploits are likely to remain unpatched for a long time, if ever– so it’s safe to assume that someone, somewhere is already planning their first post-EOL Windows / Windows Server exploit…
- Finally, use of EOL software can put you in violation of the GDPR and other security regulations, subjecting your business to significant fines. A key principle of the GDPR is that “…the controller and the processor shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk.” Since new vulnerabilities in out-of-date software don’t get patched, continued use of this software constitutes a failure to implement appropriate technical measures to keep data secure.
Easing the Transition
As important as it is to be running up-to-date software, if you haven’t yet started to prepare for the transition, you may need a bit more time to make it happen. Perhaps your users still work with a legacy application that won’t run on a newer operating system, and you need more time to either update that software or figure out a replacement. Furthermore, transitioning from Windows 7 to a newer operating system such as Windows 10 may necessitate prior user training. You may even need to purchase and install new hardware. Do you have to simply live with the risk while you work on the transition?
Not necessarily. A secure application delivery solution can help you upgrade your EOL software at your own pace while minimizing risk:
- Securely isolate your Win7-dependent legacy / custom applications by hosting them on Microsoft RDS or virtual desktops.
- Seamlessly deliver legacy Windows applications that need older OS versions with a native RDP client. Or opt for anytime, anywhere application access within a browser — simple, secure and fast.
It’s always best to use software that is supported by the vendor, for all the reasons cited above. Yet if on occasion you need to keep a few instances of EOL software running, at least temporarily, you can minimize your vulnerability to hackers by securing the old software and having users access it by means of a secure application delivery solution.
Ericom has helped hundreds of organizations of all sizes get more bang for their budgets by extending the life of legacy / EOL applications. Learn more about Ericom Connect or contact us today to discover how much easier migration planning can be!