Only recently has Windows 10 finally become more popular than the much older Windows 7, signifying an important milestone that should make cities sit up and take notice. Extended support for Windows 7 will end on January 14, 2020. Enhancements to the product long ago ended on January 13, 2015, with Microsoft now only patching bugs, reliability issues, and security vulnerabilities. After January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer provide security patching for Windows 7. The same issue holds true for Windows Server 2008, with extended support ending on the same day.
Why should cities care? Let’s look at it the other way. What happens if cities don’t care?
First, we know you may want to keep Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Some of your reasons may include:
- Not wanting to spend the money for an upgrade.
- Habit—you like Windows 7 and you’re used to it.
- Older legacy software—you fear something might break if you upgrade.
- Or, you may think, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
So, let’s see what can happen by not preparing, now, to upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 to a newer operating system before January 14, 2020.
1. Open your arms to ransomware, viruses, malware, and hackers.
Here, we can learn from history. One of the reasons severe ransomware like WannaCry wrecked such havoc in May 2017 is because too many organizations still used Windows XP—an outdated operating system with extended support having ended on April 8, 2014. Once Microsoft stops providing extended support, they stop providing patching.
In our cybersecurity training sessions with towns and cities, we talk about the 3Ps: Passwords, Patching, and People. If you have software—like Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008—that you cannot patch, that means you’ve got software now open to the malware and viruses of the world.
So, if you want to increase the chances of hackers breaching your systems or ransomware holding your city hostage, stay on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.
2. Encourage downtime at your city with crashing computers and servers.
Windows 7 support doesn’t just fix security vulnerabilities. It also fixes bugs and reliability issues. These are the kinds of issues where, if you don’t patch, your computers and servers can crash and freeze. It’s inevitable. Staying on Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 means you are opening the door to a wave of frozen, crashed, and slow computers.
Yes, that means downtime. Billing may not get out. Payroll may not be processed. Serving the requests and needs of citizens will be at risk.
Imagine having a meeting where you make a business decision, and part of that business decision is that your employees’ computers will slow down and freeze a lot. You also point out that IT people will also need to constantly arrive onsite to fix machines. You justify this decision by saying you’re saving money, even though an iceberg lies clearly ahead.
That’s what you’re doing if you stay on Windows 7—justifying an operational disaster waiting to happen.
3. Stop your city from using modern software and applications.
A lot of software—especially the now common cloud software that doesn’t require dedicated onsite servers—needs modern operating systems like Windows 10 to run properly. Modern operating systems have the built-in capability to handle modern complex software and applications. By contrast, Windows 7, which came out in 2009 (now 10 years ago!), was built before many modern applications.
Just for a little perspective, here are some things that did not exist when Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 came out in 2009:
- Modern tablets such as the iPad. (The iPad was released April 3, 2010.)
- 4G networks in the US
This illustrates how technology can emerge, evolve, and become commonplace so quickly. Software, applications, and technological improvements have occurred that literally weren’t here when Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 were released. Over time, the pace of technological innovation moves so fast that these old operating systems become incapable of keeping up. That expanding chasm creates great risk that hackers use to their advantage.
If you want to skip technology evolution and innovation that leads to using modern software and applications that can improve your city, then stick with Windows 7. You will miss out.
4. Increase the cost of maintaining your systems.
When more things break, you will lose more time, become busier, and more often call your IT resource or require IT staff to fight fires. That costs money and time, especially if your IT resource is billable by the hour and if onsite visits are expensive. And if you wait until things literally break, then you will need to suddenly and unexpectedly replace hardware, software, and applications.
Even if you rely on a fixed cost IT vendor, your costs will still increase from:
- Lost time and productivity.
- Major disruptions related to essential software.
- Dealing with the aftereffects of a virus, ransomware, or malware.
- Forced hardware and software replacement from operating system incompatibility.
For cities thinking they are saving money by staying on Windows 7, you’re in for quite a surprise in 2020.
Obviously, we took a slightly playful tone in this post to make some key points. But if you are currently using Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008, then you need to start planning for a transition long before January 14, 2020. If you need to make a case for it, then explain that this upgrade:
- Keeps your city secure.
- Keeps your technology reliable.
- Allows you to use modern software and applications to help your city do work.
- Keeps maintenance costs low.
- Reduces technology disruptions.
Are you on Windows 7 and/or Windows Server 2008, but are unsure about how to transition off them? Reach out to us today.
Original Date: 1/30/2019