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End of Windows 7 General Support Has Arrived

By - Source: Microsoft
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Just short of a year after all forms of general Windows XP support ended, mainstream support for Windows 7 has come to an end. As of January 13 2015, general support has ceased. What does this mean for Windows 7 users? In short, it depends on your circumstances. For SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) with non complex applications and home users, not a lot at the moment. Security updates and patches will continue to be available to users until the end of support in 2020. 

For larger businesses, however, it signals that it is perhaps time to evaluate your upgrade paths. The seemingly simple question of potential upgrade paths is actually a difficult one. Because Windows 7 is now at the end of general support, upgrading to Windows 7 from Windows XP or Vista would seem to be a poor decision.

Many companies have just about completed the Windows 7 upgrade and now have to start deciding which OS to move to next. Windows 8/8.1 has proved to be quite expensive in terms of support due to the completely new user interface. The interface has proven to be polarizing, especially with the removal of the much-loved Start button.

It proved so unpopular that some OEMs revived Windows 7 as an option on their new machines. The UI has been updated in 8.1 to return the Start bar, but in a new form. With the 8.1 update however, Windows 8 may be more palatable for business users as it won't be such a shock to new users who inevitably create expensive support calls.

The other option for businesses looking to upgrade is to hold off and wait for Windows 10. Windows 10 is already available for general pre-release review at the moment, and it's slated for full release in the next few months. Thus far, the preview suggests Microsoft is moving back towards a more well-known UI. At this point in time it may be prudent to wait and see what the final Windows 10 release looks like before making any decisions as to which version a small or medium company should upgrade to.

To those people still running XP, support is still possible by purchasing an extended support contract with Microsoft. This will get you access to new critical patches, including security and general business support. Such contracts, however, do not come cheap, and to support even a moderately small environment would cost several thousand dollars per year. Each year, the price increases as an incentive to get customers to move off of the now very legacy XP.

With Windows 7 reaching the end of its support life, it should be obvious that any stragglers on Windows XP should make it their utmost priority to get their desktop infrastructure moved across to a supported operating system that is not over a decade old and now is also vulnerable to security issues that won't be fixed unless they get an expensive Microsoft support contract on a per-desktop basis. Unless you have a truly compelling reason not to upgrade, it is time to get with a modern OS release and throw out that old Windows XP.