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Microsoft has been warning about its planned end-of-support for several popular products for over a year now. Unfortunately not everyone has read, understood, or had time to take action.

While we’re now heading into the Christmas season, there is still time to get things moving. Here are some changes to expect and how they might affect your small business.

Microsoft’s end-of-support status means the company will no longer provide technical support, bug fixes, software updates, warranty coverage, access to services, service packs, and most importantly – security updates. Security updates are the main aspect of these mature products. Without those updates, companies become increasingly at-risk for security breaches as time rolls on.

The full list of those end-of-support products for January, 2020 is long, so we will concentrate on the most commonly used products by small businesses. The short list:

Operating Systems:
Windows 7
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008
Windows Storage Server 2008 (all editions)

Server Applications:
Windows Server Update Services 3.0
Hyper-V Server 2008
Hyper-V Server 2008 R2
Dynamics C5 2015
Dynamics CRM 2015
Dynamics SL 2015
Dynamics NAV 2015

Client Applications:
Internet Explorer 10

The items representing the greatest impact to small businesses are the operating systems – Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

According to NetMarketShare, Windows 7 is still the operating system of choice for at least a third of users as of November 2019. Echoing that, Kaspersky found that at least a third of very small businesses and small-medium businesses are still dependent on Windows 7.

The good news is – If you still have Windows 7 running on desktops, laptops, or tablets in your small business, you’re not alone. The bad news is of course, your time is very limited to control the adverse risks to your company.

In some cases the operating system of the servers in any particular small business can be more important that those desktop systems. Servers are generally meant for use by many (if not all) the endpoint PCs and devices. So when the operating system of a server becomes problematic, the felt impact to the business is magnified.

Case in point: Many small businesses use a single server for multiple functions to control costs of hardware and licensing. For example, it is common to run network services like DHCP and DNS from a single server. If so, then nearly every device on your network is affected. Additionally, a multipurpose server may also provide file services. Those mapped drives on your laptop likely point to such a server’s shared folders. Now add the popular Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) that is used for managing updates to all the connected Windows devices, and you’ve potentially got a complex problem to solve in very short time.

You can begin to see how this can be overwhelming. The key is to build a plan specifically designed for your business and the way you work, in order to make the switch to updated operating systems in a way that minimizes the risk to your everyday business, and to minimize downtime necessary to complete the changeover.

Yes, upgrading the operating system on desktops and servers will likely involve some additional investments. Chances are though, that most small businesses have already been using their desktops, laptops, and servers for at least 3 years, and may have already fully depreciated any associated costs. In many cases, upgrading the operating system can be significantly less costly than replacing with new hardware.

A quick cost analysis:
New laptop with Windows 10 Professional license: $800
A single Windows 10 Professional license: $188
Difference: $612 – per machine.

There are often other considerations, like age of the machines, time to execute each conversion, incompatible hardware or software applications, downtime during conversion, etc.

Generally speaking, for machines that are still under warranty and still functioning well, an in-place upgrade to Windows 10 might represent the quickest, least-cost, and lowest-risk option. In other cases, a new PC might be needed. But there are even more possibilities…

Perhaps you’ve found that you don’t really need Windows in certain settings. In these cases, your existing computer could be revamped with a free Linux-based operating system. The computer could even be replaced with a simpler device, like a Chromebook.

There are other options that even Microsoft recommends that you may not have considered. For instance, if your businesses has more than 10 computers and at least one server, you might be able to utilize your existing server space to augment your desktop experiences. Without getting too complicated here, let’s just say you could save significant licensing costs for your desktops, laptops, and tablets while improving performance and simplifying management. But such a system means a slight shift in how you work, and it takes careful planning and execution.

Navigating Microsoft’s support jungle does not have to be done in the dark – or alone. Many small businesses need a little help to take inventory of their systems, assess the options, weigh the costs, and develop a plan of action. They may also need a committed partner to execute that plan effectively.

Engage Business Solutions, LLC has the knowledge, the expertise, the vendor contacts, and the willingness to help your small business through this challenging time. Whether you have two employees or 200, we can show you how to maximize technology to fit the way you work. Give us a call today at (260) 383-4084 or email us now and schedule a FREE initial consultation. It’s Tech That Fits.

Citations:
NetMarketShare, Operating System Share by Version, Retrieved
Kaspersky, Kaspersky Research Finds 41% of Consumers Still Use Unsupported or Nearly Expired Operating Systems, Retrieved 12/8/2019

Post Author: Scott

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