Windows 7 Plug Pulled: Avoid Risk with the Old Windows 10/Office 365 Switcheroo
Windows 7’s long ten-year run ends today, meaning IT pros with this now fully defunct operating system have choices to make. Simply put, there are no more patches or security updates for Windows 7 starting today. If a new vulnerability is found, it will not be closed. These legacy machines are sitting ducks, although anti-virus/anti-malware are still there offering a modicum of protection.
This also means that these now definably insecure machines pose risks that threaten the regulatory compliance of the shops that run them.
Now that Windows 7 is out to pasture, those users need new machines – or to add a new operating system to what is invariably an old PC – probably not a great idea. This is a perfect time to move from on-premises Microsoft office to Office 365. It is also a time to consider Microsoft 365 (M365), which includes Windows 10.
However, if you migrate to O365 or M365 you need governance, management, security and adoption. Otherwise, your IT staff is saddled with a heap of problems, while security and end user productivity tank. Find out how to tackle these issues with the CoreView whitepaper, Six Terrible Office 365 Migration Mistakes.
Limited Windows 7 Survival Options
One of two exceptions to the Windows 7 support vacuum is for those shops that have extended support as part of their volume license agreement, and this extension is for one year only. Alternatively, shops can buy extended support annually for each Windows 7 machine, the cost of which rises each year. Either way, there are serious limitations. “The Extended Security Update (ESU) program is a last resort option for customers who need to run certain legacy Microsoft products past the end of support. It includes Critical* and/or Important* security updates for a maximum of three years after the product’s End of Extended Support date,” Microsoft explained. “Extended Security Updates will be distributed if and when available. ESUs do not include new features, customer-requested non-security updates, or design change requests.”
Microsoft makes the obvious and thoroughly logical suggestion that end users and the IT staffs that manage them simply get with the times, and use a safer, truly modern operating system. At the same time, why not spring for a modern PC and get the best of both worlds? “For most Windows 7 users, moving to a new device with Windows 10 will be the recommended path forward. Today’s PCs are faster, lightweight yet powerful, and more secure, with an average price that’s considerably less than that of the average PC eight years ago,” Microsoft argued in a support note.
Making the O365 Move
A new Windows 10 PC takes care of the machine and the OS. But what about your apps? If your users rely on on-premises Microsoft Office, moving that software onto new machines, or even just new Windows 10 installs, is certainly feasible, but likely makes little sense. Most of Microsoft’s development efforts go into Office 365, and even if you stick with on-premises, you will not enjoy the benefits of Exchange, Teams, and all the other apps built into O365. Nor will your employees enjoy the beauty of the SaaS model, which offers apps and services access from myriad devices, as well as easy cloud storage and incredible collaboration.
At the same time, it makes little sense to use a modern SaaS solution — Office 365 — on a moribund operating system. “Using Office 365 on older, unsupported operating systems may cause performance and reliability issues over time. As a valuable Office 365 subscriber, we want to continue to provide a stable Office 365 experience. Therefore, if you’re using Office 365 on a computer running Windows 7 we strongly recommend you move to Windows 10,” Microsoft concluded.
Meanwhile, the modern Office 365 is not quite as up to date when run on Windows 7. The good news is Office 365 will get security updates for the next three years if run on Windows 7 – even if that operating system does not. “But, during that time, as long as the device is still running Windows 7, Office 365 won’t receive any new features updates,” Microsoft cautioned. The good news? “Once you move to a supported Windows operating system all Office 365 feature and security updates will resume as usual. At this time, you can run an Office update to make sure you have the latest version,” Microsoft support said.
Is M365 a Better Bet?
If you are upgrading machines to Windows 10, making the parallel move to M365 may be your best bet, as it comes with Windows 10, along with other benefits. “Microsoft 365 Enterprise includes Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility and Security – representing a complete, intelligent solution to empower everyone in your organization to collaborate and be creative, securely,” a Microsoft M365 blog said.
Office 2010 Put to Rest This October
There is another reason to move to Office 365 this year – at least for Office 2010 shops as support for this version of the on-premises productivity suite ends October 13, 2020. “If you haven’t already begun to upgrade your Office 2010 environment, we recommend you start now,” Microsoft said in an Office 2010 support note. That means that, like Windows 7 today, Office 2010 will not get technical support for issues, bug fixes, and security fixes. “Because of the changes listed above, we strongly recommend that you upgrade as soon as possible,” Microsoft counseled.
Microsoft’s best advice is moving to Office 365, such as the ProPlus edition. Office 2010 shops can also buy Office 2019, the on-premises suite that is still sold as a one-time purchase, and installable on only one machine per license. “A key difference between Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2019 is that Office 365 ProPlus is updated on a regular basis, as often as monthly, with new features. Office 2019 only has the same features that it had when it was released in October 2018,” Microsoft pointed out.
Microsoft indeed believes in the Windows 10/Office 365 (or M365) one-two punch. “With Windows 7 end of support coming in one year—January 14, 2020—and end of support for Office 2010 close behind, there’s an opportunity right now to be proactive about what’s next. Changes and upgrades in technology are inevitable, and there’s never been a better time to start putting in motion the things you need to do to shift your organization to a modern desktop with Microsoft 365,” blogged Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365. “When it comes to security in Office, Office 365 has powerful, built-in features to help you protect sensitive data, stay in control in the cloud, and meet your compliance needs. For example, Office 365 Message Encryption helps protect sensitive data without sacrificing productivity. Office 365 Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tools help protect content such as HIPAA-related and General Data Protection Regulation-related (GDPR) data.”
Not All Will Listen
Just as with Windows XP, Windows 7 will not simply disappear anytime soon. “Windows XP, which was officially retired in April 2014, more than half a decade ago, still runs 20 million or so PCs worldwide,” Computerworld recently reported.
Web analytics company Net Applications has Windows 7’s share of Windows installed base at roughly 30%. Computerworld projects that “A year from now – on Jan. 1, 2021 – Windows 7 should account for a still-major 18.7% of all Windows (or approximately 281 million machines).”
Migration Done Right
If your shop is considering migrating to Microsoft Office 365, do it right. Plan for governance, auditing, security, license management, have a productivity plan, and commit to proper administration.
If you do not, instead of enjoying all Microsoft Office 365 has to offer, your admins suffer under a new and complex workload, end users do not reap full O365 productivity rewards, and hackers have their way with what should be an exciting new SaaS productivity environment.
Avoid these mistakes with our new whitepaper, Six Terrible Office 365 Migration Mistakes.
The CoreView Solution – Understand Who Your Users Are and What They Are Doing
CoreView helps set up administrators that are specific to a location, functional set of users, or other attributes. This means admins know who their users are, and have a manageable set of end users to handle.
At the same time, CoreView tracks application usage, so you know which applications handle the most work, and when end users are misusing the system. The ‘single pane of glass’ CoreView console offers deep insight into how end users are configured, whether security policies are complied with, manages the entire O365 tenant with ease and automation.
Learn More about Managing Office 365 Using CoreView
Learn more about Office 365 administration with a CoreView demo.
You can also get a free CoreView Office 365 Health Check detailing license savings, state of application usage, and pinpoints security problems in your Office 365 environment.
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.