In fact, the number of enterprise businesses still running Microsoft Windows 7 could be significant.
Standard support for Windows 7 stopped four years ago in 2015 and like with Windows XP the operating system degraded to extended support for five years. Extended support means that PCs will still receive security updates and bug fixes.
However, after 14 January 2020, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 (and 2008 R2) support will be discontinued entirely and will join its operating system predecessors to the proverbial cemetery.
This is a huge problem as without security updates or hot fixes, operating systems are exposed to huge amounts of cyber security risk, such as cryptolocker and ransomware attacks.
Microsoft’s date for the end of extended support will also ensure software vendors stop supporting Windows 7 and Server 2008, which means critical business applications that currently reside on Windows 7 and Server 2008 will also cease to work.
Organisations need to have migrated to Windows 10 before January 2020. For Windows Server 2008 it will mean a local hardware and operating system upgrade to Windows Server 2016 or a migration to Azure’s cloud infrastructure where existing licenses can be used as well as benefiting from Microsoft’s three years of Extended Security Updates at no additional cost.
The only alternative will be special support purchased directly from Microsoft, like it offered for Windows XP, but this is very expensive and is usually reserved for the public sector, such as the MoD, Metropolitan Police and NHS.
Both the Met and the NHS were heavily criticised for failing to migrate away from Windows XP quickly enough which caused the NHS a huge problem during the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017. That cryptolocker incident solely targeted vulnerabilities in XP computers and brought the NHS to a dangerous standstill.
By January 2023, all forms of public sector support for Windows 7 and Server 2008 will end, together with the much less popular extended support for Windows 8 as well.