Windows 7 – end of life – What do Charities and Non-Profit organisations need to know?
When is the official ‘End of life’ for Windows 7?
The official date is 14th January 2020. From this date Microsoft will no longer support or update Windows 7. Users will be given a notification (reminder) leading up to this date as well as after recommending users to upgrade to Windows 10.
What happens after 14th January 2020?
Windows 7 will continue to work after the 14th January as normal but Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates and patches. Therefore, you can still use Windows 7 after this date, but the longer you go without upgrading, the greater the risk of being affected by a new virus or Windows security flaw.
The Operating System is more likely to be hit by a cyber threat and leaves users in an extremely vulnerable situation if they have not upgraded to Windows 10.
What are your choices?
Option 1: Upgrade to Windows 10
Before proceeding with a Windows 10 upgrade some initial checks should be made based on existing PC(s) and whether they are compatible with Windows 10. Unfortunately Microsoft no longer provide a compatibility check tool, but please see below in terms of a general guideline in terms of recommended hardware:
- Processor: 2 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor / Multicore recommended for heavy usage
- RAM: 4 gigabyte (GB) / Recommended 8GB for heavy usage
- Hard disk space: 80GB
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: Graphics card able to handle displays of at least 1024 x 768
If your computer(s) do not meet these specifications, then it is advisable to look at purchasing a new PC / laptop.
If you are a single user or small organisation then the process of upgrading to Windows 10 is simpler and will require less planning than a charity / business of 30+ users.
For a single user / small organisation then the easiest option usually is an ‘in place upgrade’. This is effectively downloading the Windows 10 media (with a purchased license key) and running the setup from within the Windows 7 desktop. This will usually retain all user files / settings and applications although it is recommended to both backup any user files before the upgrade and also expect to have to reinstall applications if they no longer work post upgrade.
If you have a local network with domain joined computers then this is a little more complicated but the in place upgrade will still work. Although it is recommended to seek assistance from your IT provider / IT person as part of the process.
For larger organisations, upgrading to Windows 10 usually requires more specialisation, planning and the usage of deployment software to roll out Windows 10. The benefits of using deployment software is that it will significantly save an organisation time, but also allow for standardisation across all computers on the network.
Below are 2 possible suggestions that Smartdesc have expertise in regarding managing large scale Windows 10 upgrades:
Windows Deployment Toolkit – A very powerful deployment tool which allows for easy deployment of Windows 10 computers. Not only can the Windows 10 deployment be automated but also any required software can be automatically installed as part of the deployment process. Expertise is required for the initial setup and can be a steep learning curve for a non IT professional or an IT professional with no prior experience. Computers typically can only be built on the local network. i.e. For a home worker then their laptop would need to be brought into the Office for Windows 10 to be deployed.
Windows Autopilot – A very powerful deployment tool specific to Windows 10 and fully leverages Office 365 and Azure Active Directory technologies. While similar to the Windows Deployment Tool kit in terms of being able to automate Windows and software deployment the primary difference is Windows 10 can be deployed to any location as long as there is an internet connection. Expertise is required around Azure Active Directory and the Autopilot product.
Note: Charities and non-profit organisations can purchase an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for £17 from Charity Digital here. (only if their PC’s meet the hardware requirement).
Option 2: Keep using Windows 7
While it is not recommended to keep using Windows 7 after 14th January 2020 there are some scenarios where charities will have to. As such Microsoft do offer paid for support up to January 2023 which costs are outline below:
To summarise, if you have Windows 7 Pro then you can pay per device to continue to receive security updates up to January 2023 with the costs increasing each year. Discounts are available if you have an existing Windows E3 or E5 subscription. (Note: This is also covered if you have an Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 subscription and please be aware this is different to Office 365 E3 or E5)
If you need any advice or help around your Windows 10 upgrade then please ask any of the team at Smartdesc and we would be happy to help answer any questions you have or contact us here.