Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008: Here’s what you need to know.

Support for Windows 7 and Server 2008 is ending in January 2020. Here’s how to protect your systems.


Image: TechRepublic

All good things must come to an end, and that includes popular and robust operating systems that outlive their life span. Microsoft is retiring support for its desktop OS Windows 7 and its server OS Windows 2008 as of Jan. 14, 2020. This includes all versions of these operating systems for businesses and consumers with the exception of federally certified voting systems that run Windows 7.

SEE: Windows 10: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

This doesn’t mean these operating systems will fail on Jan. 15, 2020, but be forewarned: You will not be able to get support for them from Microsoft, nor will Microsoft release any further security patches for them, which puts your systems at risk.

Small businesses can purchase Windows 7 updates from Microsoft, although you’ll have to pay $25 per device for Windows 7 Enterprise and $50 per device for Windows 7 Professional for the first year of support. The price doubles sequentially for years two and three.

I recommend against pouring more money into obsolete systems and, where possible, to upgrade desktops to Windows 10 and servers to at least Windows Server 2012, though if you’re going to go through the pain of upgrading it’s probably better to shoot for Windows Server 2016 or, better yet, Windows Server 2019, as that will give you the most time before having to upgrade again.

In order to know what to upgrade, you must have some sort of inventory report provided by a centralized administration product like System Center Configuration Manager, inFlow Inventory, or ZhenHub. These should be able to give you a list of systems that will be affected so you can get started.

Server upgrades are easy enough, especially with redundant systems. You’ll probably have to wade through change…