In today’s modern connected world we are all used to things changing and in the technological world this has never been more true.
We are all familiar with the constant upgrades and updates in our lives, to our mobile phones or our digital speakers. Even some of our fridges need software updates! Sometimes with or without our response.
The small red notification icon alerts us to an available update to one of our favourite mobile apps, we tap the upgrade button without another second’s thought. No question, no deliberation.
But what about at work?
It always surprises me when I visit potential new clients, that many of their staff probably have better broadband connections and better devices at home than they do at work!
Business owners have to strike a balance between what they spend their hard-earned money on, but ignoring modern business IT and connectivity requirements is usually a false economy and spending more on milk each month than on a robust internet connection will never make sense.
Purchasing new IT equipment and upgrading to the latest software can be very expensive and some businesses just can’t justify the expenditure, but the benefits in time saved and staff motivation are often overlooked.
Just think for a moment of a Financial Controller who has a very old and slow machine running on an even slower network that takes 10 minutes to run a report, something they do multiple times a day……. that is a lot of wasted time, something that costs a business £1,000s over the course of a year, not to mention the frustration the employee feels.
Good Bye Windows 7
Sometimes there needs to be a catalyst for change within smaller businesses. The end of life for Windows 7, Microsoft’s most successful operating system is one such catalyst.
Windows 7 has been phased out and will no longer be supported from January 14th, 2020.
Netmarketshare.com suggests that Windows 7 is currently in use on 29% of PCs, the vast majority of which are used in offices up and down the country.
Many people are surprised to learn that Windows 7 is over a decade old, having been launched in July 22nd, 2009. However, mainstream support (new features and warranty claims) ended January 13, 2015, so Windows 7 is currently in its extended support phase, which will end on January 14th, 2020.
The problem for business is that once the extended support finishes on January 14th, 2020, Microsoft will stop releasing patches and updates for the platform to safeguard against security issues or bugs, and they will no longer offer help and support if a business encounters any problems.
With no ongoing support and patching available, it is reasonable to suggest that cyber criminals could turn their attention to Windows 7 as once they discover a flaw or security gap, they would be free to exploit it across the board.
Protecting against cyber security threats is becoming increasingly more important for businesses and you would not want to make things easier for cyber-criminals by having unsecured systems and networks.
So what can you do?
There are two parts you need to address to resolve the Windows 7 issue, the operating system itself and the hardware it is running on.
Just like how the TVs in our living rooms have changed and improved immeasurably over the last 10 years so too have PCs and Laptops. They have also become less expensive.
Ask yourself “are my staff working on the best equipment available for them to do their job to the best of their ability?” If they are working on a 7-10 year old PC then they are almost certainly not.
A new or updated PC or laptop purchased today will be far more powerful and cheaper than when you purchased your older machines and will also come with the next generation operating system, Windows 10, already installed.
It’s vital to work with your IT provider to find out how big an issue you have within your IT estate, as well as who will be affected by having Windows 7 on their machines and plan moving any files or documents over a certain period of time, along with any training that may be required .
A successful and good IT company will be able to advise on the latest models and also plan a migration for your business in phases to keep disruption to a minimum.
They should also be able to arrange attractive lease rates to help spread the cost of any new equipment and protect the all-important cash flow.
With just 12 weeks to go, time is of the essence, but instead of Windows 7 end of life being the “end of the world” for your small business, look at it as an opportunity to evaluate staff roles and use it as a catalyst to improve staff productivity and morale, as well as protecting your business from cyber threats.
Dan Mellett is a Solutions Consultant for Concise Technologies with over 15 years’ experience in the IT industry.