If your business uses Windows 7, there is less than a year left of free Microsoft support

Shirley Finnerty, Microsoft 365 business group lead and Martin Patterson, head of digital services, Auxilion. Pic: Chris Bellew, Fennell Photography.

Irish businesses have less than 12 months to upgrade from Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system to 10 before they face paying for Microsoft support.

Microsoft has announced that support for Windows 7 will end on January 14, 2020, with extended support available beyond then but at a cost and with the price increasing each year.

Martin Patterson, head of digital services at Irish-owned IT services company Auxilion, said: “If organisations haven’t upgraded by this time next year, then they face the cost of extended security support offered by Microsoft or leave themselves open to the risk of running an unsupported operating system with resulting security threats.”

Latest figures from analytics firm StatCounter finds that in Ireland nearly 30% of internet access was via Windows 7 in December 2018.

“This percentage is likely to be significantly higher for corporate users as consumers have adopted Windows 10 much faster than business,” added Mr Patterson.

He said that many public sector organisations also face significant costs. Because of its stability, Windows 7 has been a favoured operating system across the public as well as private sectors. It has been reported that the UK Government had to pay Microsoft £5.5m (€6m) to support Windows XP for an additional year.

Mr Patterson said: “Depending on the size of the organisation, migration can take 12 months or longer.”

According to Gartner, average migration projects for large enterprise organisations with more than 500 seats have been taking 21 months in the US.

Auxilion have warned that organisations that are slow to react "will have to take their place in the queue".

They said: "Those starting after mid-2019 will probably have to face the prospect of not having the project completed by 2020."

“One of the reasons for the slow upgrade to Windows 10 is that Irish organisations remember the complexity in moving from Windows XP,” pointed out Mr Patterson. “Software, as well as hardware issues, need to be addressed.

“These concerns are understandable but not insurmountable. Many businesses which took a structured, well-planned approach to Windows 7 encountered very few problems. That will also be the case for Windows 10 if organisations begin the process early enough and chose the right partner to support them.”

However, Auxilion has said that Windows 10 will be the last rather than the latest iteration of the operating system.

They said: “Instead of major new launches every five years or so, Windows 10 will be subject to regular updates and upgrades which can be managed by the user.

"Windows 10, therefore, represents the last migration of this kind that businesses will have to undertake."

“Businesses don’t really have a choice when it comes to Windows 10 migration. The only question is when.

"Delay means additional cost and the risk of working with an unsupported operating system and outdated hardware.”

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