September 16, 2019
Farewell Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008…preparing for the demise
“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things:”
For those unfamiliar with the quirkiness of writer Lewis Carroll this very apt expression is from The Walrus and the Carpenter. And when we are talking about removal of Microsoft’s support of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 there are many things to talk about!
Sadly for many it’s time for change. Businesses need to prepare for a future without Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 being supported by Microsoft. After 14th January 2020 there will be no more security updates or support for PCs running Windows 7. The same applies to Window Server 2008 (this includes Small Business Server 2011 which also runs on 2008). The practicalities of this are that it affects many businesses. While we have been actively discussing and transferring any of our customers this affects, we know there are many other companies out there that will become vulnerable.
So, what does the end of Microsoft Support of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 really mean?
No one can deny that the pace of technology feels like it is accelerating faster and faster with every year that goes by. As a result old software and hardware doesn’t just need to be replaced by modern technology, it has to! But for many, you are absolutely right…it probably feels like your business only made a significant investment into this kit just a few years ago. The good news is there’s still time to get it sorted – well just! With that dreaded date just months away; now is the time to be thinking about whether your business uses these technologies and start exploring what your alternatives are.
What will happen if my business continues with Windows 7 and 2008 Server?
The fact that Microsoft are withdrawing support might sound irrelevant, as few small businesses contact Microsoft directly for support, but it’s not really about that. Microsoft still releases fixes or what is known as ‘patches’ for Windows 7 and Server 2008 when vulnerabilities are detected. From next January they’ll stop doing this, which makes your machines immediately vulnerable.
OK, it’s true that it’s unlikely that on the 15th January 2020 (the day after) your computer or server is going to instantly be affected. However, your vulnerability to IT downtime and viruses will increase without these patches being rolled out by Microsoft. Sadly you will face an increased risk that you and your business become an easier target for hackers, with your cyber security potentially being compromised.
I have a firewall so I’m already secure – right?
It’s sensible to have a decent firewall on your network, but this is a different risk. The only way to run an unpatched system in your business is to prevent it from accessing the internet. If you connect to the internet from anywhere on your network, then you can’t connect an unpatched machine to the network, firewall or not.
Ok, I get the point, any other reasons?
Increasingly, businesses are being asked under GDPR whether they “take all reasonable steps to protect sensitive data” or “have removed unsupported software from their systems”. It might be the bank, a card-processing company or a major customer asking this. This is increasingly common and it’s not a problem that’s going to go away.
How do I know if I am using Windows 7 and/ or have a 2008 Server?
With two machines side by side, it’s easy to spot a Windows 7 machine as there’s a colourful circular start button in the bottom left hand corner. On Windows 10 this is replaced with a white window logo.
For servers, the logon screen shows you the version – server 2008 or 2011 are the affected systems, 2012 or later is fine.
What can I do if I am using Windows 7 and have a 2008 server?
In simple terms you need to update to Windows 10 and upgrade your server. This ideally needs to be set up so that everything still receives the support and patches from Microsoft or your IT provider. Obviously this can be achieved yourselves, but in a business environment this upgrading can prove to be an involved job. Without trying to make it sound too scary there is probably a lot of stake just in terms of information and data in your business. So making sure all of this is successfully transferred across is essential.
If you’re not sure what’s involved or you just want to chat through what your options are then why not give us a call? We definitely won’t mind discussing where you are at the moment, exploring with you what needs to be done and the best way to go about it. The most important thing is making sure your business is up to date, secure and protected.