Closing Windows, Are You Prepared? End of Support for Windows 7, Server 2008 & Exchange 2010

22 July 2009. Millions of people witnessed the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century. Gordon Brown was UK Prime Minister. Manchester United were preparing to defend their 11th Premier League title. Donald Trump was the host of Celebrity Apprentice. No-one had heard of Brexit. And Microsoft released Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

9 April 2019

Replacing the much-maligned Windows Vista, Windows 7 delivered some exceptional new features, amongst the many were the introduction of the taskbar with the ability to pin commonly-used applications, and a much-improved boot-up time. Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft’s server operating system, introduced new virtualisation capabilities and the ability to manage up to 256 virtual machines on a single server.

Ten years on, Microsoft have announced end of support dates for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008. Along with Exchange Server 2010, Microsoft’s mail and calendar server, these operating systems will no longer be supported after 14 January 2020. Likewise, SQL Server 2008 R2 will not be supported after 9 July 2019.

In short, if you don't upgrade, Microsoft will no longer provide support or security patches for these products after their end of support dates.


Eliminating breaches

This end of life support has the potential to make any dependent devices and servers vulnerable to security breaches. In particular Windows 7 users will become vulnerable due to un-patched security risks such as Ransomware. Once your software stops being supported, you open the door to hackers, and this must be avoided at all costs. In today’s digital age upgrading is essential to remain protected against the hundreds of thousands of malware samples that hit the internet every day, as well as the billions already in circulation.

In the event of running unsupported operating systems, the possibility of a malicious data breach becomes very real. Your business no doubt handles sensitive information and personal data, and as a result any data breach can be extremely costly. Furthermore, software vendors don’t generally support outdated operating systems. If you continue to use an outdated operating system, you risk losing the ability to run third-party software, which can put your business at risk.

For Windows 7 users, the currently supported versions are Windows 8 and 10. For Windows Server users it's Windows Server 2012, 2016 and 2019. For Exchange Server, the currently supported version is Windows Exchange Server 2019, and for SQL Server the options are to upgrade on premise to SQL Server 2017. There are also options to move SQL Server instances to Azure to accelerate innovation with improved cost savings and security.


Migration is imperative

While installations of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange Server 2010 will continue to run after their end of support dates, due to the changes and risks listed above, we strongly recommend migrating to the current versions as soon as possible. We also recommend that for a number of reasons new hardware should also be considered. For example, Windows 10 is not efficient when hosted on older hardware.

If you need any assistance in this regard, a professional services evaluation and analysis of your existing estate - along with an understanding of your future needs - will enable us to recommend the options best suited to you.

End of support presents an opportunity for organisations with Windows 7 to realise the potential that moving to the Cloud can bring. Cloud deployments are accessible from multiple devices, offer improved collaboration and significantly reduce internal support costs due to standardisation of operating system versions.

In every case, GCI can offer advice and assess potential migration paths and costs. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Leave it to us.

GCI’s team of 225+ technical experts, from a 500-strong UK-wide workforce, can help you find the right solution for your business, as well as provide any required implementation and support going forward. As a long-standing Microsoft Gold Partner, and named ‘Microsoft Growth Partner of the Year 2018’, GCI has the expertise to support you, whatever your requirements.

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