Arraya Insights | March 21, 2019
January 14, 2020 is either the day that Windows 7 goes end of support or it’s just another Tuesday. If your organization isn’t in that second camp yet, you are far from alone. A recent survey from Computer Weekly and TechTarget found just over half of IT pros (52%) see upgrading Windows as their top desktop project. This upgrade has held the top spot for several years running on this list. Given that the clock is ticking on Windows 7, the 2020 version will likely see a new champion crowned.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to start stoking the “life after Windows 7” conversations inside your organization. These discussions typically go one of two directions and our Cloud and Workspace team members are no strangers to either. Depending on the path your company chooses, here are some follow up questions that need to be asked and answered.
Decision #1: We’re migrating to Windows 10.
Sure, there are other landing spots besides Windows 10, but options such as Windows 8.1 are already outside of mainstream support. As the most modern, secure version of Windows available, Windows 10 makes the most sense for organizations looking to leave Windows 7 behind. Yet, there are some points to nail down beforehand, including:
- “Are we prepared to keep up with Windows 10 updates?” Windows 10’s upgrade schedule works a little differently than what most IT teams have encountered. Essentially, a new version of Windows 10 comes out every six months and has a limited support period. This means IT will need to update user devices far more regularly than they needed to previously. By no means should this be a deal-breaker. It’s just something to be aware of and strategize for early on.
- “How will our apps respond?” No organization wants to find itself unexpectedly unable to use a mission critical app due to a desktop upgrade. Concerns about exactly that have caused many to drag their feet rather than embrace Windows 10. IT teams and business units must set aside time to take stock of the apps the company relies upon and test them for compatibility. Note: Microsoft’s new Desktop App Assure program has taken some of the bite out of this topic. According to Chris Jackson, a Principal Program Manager in the Experiences and Devices Group,“if an app works on a previous version of Windows and, when you update to the latest version of Windows 10, it stops working, we’ll fix it for free.”
- “Are we open to a hardware refresh?” Industry consensus states that older devices and Windows 10 don’t always play nice. As such, if a move to Windows 10 is in the cards so too may be a hardware refresh. Organizations will need to make sure their IT teams (and budgets) are prepared to handle the added complexity this step introduces. If not, it may mean working with a partner to shoulder the workload or rolling Windows 10 out in strategically determined waves.
Decision #2: We’re sticking with Windows 7 … for now.
As most in technology know, the end doesn’t always really mean the end. There are options available to organizations that, for whatever reason, are unable to make the move to Windows 10 yet. These organizations will be able to continue to use a legacy solution safely as they make the necessary arrangements for their long-term desktop future. Those pursuing this path should consider:
- “Should we choose Windows 7 Extended Support?” Organizations looking to keep Windows 7 after January 14, 2020 can do so, but it will cost them. Windows 7 Extended Support tacks an additional three years onto Window 7’s shelf life, providing access to critical security updates. The cost of this service varies depending on the licensing, but one thing is consistent. Windows 7 Extended Support gets more expensive each year organizations use it, something that will need to be budgeted for accordingly.
- “Is Windows Virtual Desktop a better fit for us?” Powered by Azure, Windows Virtual Desktop can serve as a pipeline for Windows 7 security updates after January 14, 2020. Organizations that choose this option won’t pay explicitly for the additional support, however they will need to pay for Windows Virtual Desktop itself. The thing is, this platform is available in several Microsoft bundles, making it a potentially more appealing option than bolting on Windows 7 Extended Support.
Next Steps: Planning for Windows 7 End of Support and Beyond
Our team of Workspace and Cloud experts can help you design and execute a successful post-Windows 7 strategy. Through our AutoPilot and Intune Acceleration service, they can not only jump start your Windows 10 upgrade but enable you to manage your device fleet from the cloud. Visit https://www.arrayasolutions.com/contact-us/ to start a dialogue with them today.
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