The important date Windows 7 and 8.1 users should know

whats newWindows 7 and 8.1 users, mark your calendars: A critical support date approaches on July 17, 2018.

After then, only critical security support will be available for devices running Windows 7 or 8.1 on new processor devices (such as Intel’s 6th Gen Skylake), according to a Jan. 15 Microsoft announcement. Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10 in advance of that date in order to protect your organization from security, reliability, and compliance shortfalls. Extended support for hardware with legacy processors will end on Jan. 14, 2020 for Windows 7 and Jan. 10, 2023 for Windows 8.1.

Windows-7-81-Support

If you haven’t yet migrated to Windows 10 or you’re planning to purchase new laptops with the latest processor technology but running Windows 7 or 8.1, it’s time to start preparing. In fact, some organizations may be migrating operating systems and adding new devices simultaneously and should move quickly to guarantee their new hardware runs the most secure and up-to-date version of Windows.

Let’s lay out the facts about this support change, and review your options going forward.

The current state of Windows 7: On Aug. 1, Windows 7 will cease to be offered on devices with the latest processors, and after Nov. 1, only Windows 10 will be offered on new devices.

If your organization is considering a PC upgrade, you should develop a strategic plan now.

Check out your hardware: Microsoft is working with hardware manufacturers to publish a master list of certified next-generation hardware that will support Windows 7/8.1 through July 17, 2018.  During this support period, you should consider upgrading to Windows 10 in order to receive full support after that date. Also be aware that device manufacturers, including HP, Dell, and Lenovo, will stop producing devices with older generation processors as early as May 2016.

Have 1,000 seats? Take advantage of this: Organizations with 1,000 or more Windows seats can take advantage of Microsoft’s Windows 10 Acceleration program. This Microsoft-funded program helps organizations develop 1:1 proof-of-concepts and pilots, helping them migrate to the new OS and build images for the deployment.

Plus, the free Windows 10 Insider program allows organizations to test Windows 10 on just one device, allowing IT to better educate admins on the OS and how it works in their environment. Windows 10 Insider also has built-in tools that can identify areas that may pose problems during an upgrade to Windows 10.

The case for Windows 10

We’ve said it before on the blog, but it’s worth repeating: Microsoft says Windows 10 is the last OS you’ll ever need. You’ll also be running Windows 10 the way it was built to run – across every piece of hardware in your environment.

Another component is security. Failing to upgrade to Windows 10 may leave your organization at risk of security breaches and noncompliance. Security was such a concern for the defense community that the Chief Information Officer of the Department of Defense recently announced a plan to transition all defense agencies – about 4 million machines in total — to Windows 10 by January 2017.

More than 76 percent of enterprise customers are piloting Windows 10. If your organization is still running Windows 7 or 8.1, it should consider migrating to Windows 10 well in advance of the end-of-life dates, no matter the size of your environment.

SHI is hosting a Windows 10 webinar on March 22 to cover new features and the different variations of the OS that organizations can choose when they upgrade. If you have questions about the change to Windows 7/8.1 support, or to begin a Windows 10 migration, contact your SHI account executive.

[Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect a March 18, 2016 update to the Skylake policy.]

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