Avoiding the costly ESU cycle: Lessons learned from Windows 7 end-of-life

In June 2021, Microsoft announced the end-of-life date for Windows 10: 14 October 2025. From that point on, there will be no new updates or security fixes for the Home or Pro versions.

end-of-life Windows 7

For numerous corporations, that announcement should have triggered the start of making plans to avoid the costly and potentially unsecure cycle of Extended Security Updates (ESUs).

Looking back at the end-of-life saga that surrounded Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will give businesses a clear idea of what they need to do in the next four years.

Learning lessons from previous years

Both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 ceased receiving support and updates from Microsoft in January 2020. Of the huge number of enterprises that found themselves unable to move to a supported system, many were forced into the undesirable position of shifting to ESUs to continue to receive critical security fixes, with no other assistance provided by Microsoft. This meant that if something went wrong, businesses were on their own.

This left businesses more susceptible to cyber attacks and data breaches. Additionally, the costs of receiving ESUs for these systems have increased exponentially, and are set to continue to rise by a staggering 75% year-on-year for those still unable to make the move from Windows Server 2008.

It’s a position that no business wants to face when the end-of-life date for Windows 10 comes. But to ensure a seamless shift to Windows 11 in 2025, organizations need to consider the compatibility of their essential applications and the complications a new operating system could provide. Limited access or no access at all to the apps that ensure a business can run efficiently will be detrimental to its operations in terms of efficiency, downtime, and cost.

A unique challenge facing organizations with the end-of-life date for Windows 10 and the move to Windows 11 is the new OS’s exclusive support for 64-bit edition apps. Up until now, it’s been easy for businesses to ensure compatibility for older apps because Windows 10 came also in a 32-bit version, but this is all set to change.

On top of this, Windows 10 features are already being deprecated in preparation for Windows 11’s introduction. The removal of small features over the coming years may create a big problem if an organization’s app relies on them. The time to act is now, and organizations need the supporting expertise and solutions to make it happen.

Keeping pace with the cycle of change

Businesses need a solution that not only enables them to plan for the new world of tomorrow, but also allows them to remain evergreen in their processes and systems, during and beyond the life cycles of Windows 10 and 11.

At the core of enabling this opportunity is the use of compatibility packages to migrate crucial 32-bit applications to a new supported operating system. By packaging up the application files, runtimes, components, and deployment tools needed to run successfully on the new system, businesses can ensure a disruption-free move to Windows 11 way before Windows 10 is no longer developed.

The packages can also be moved to hybrid or pure cloud platforms, certified with Microsoft Azure and supported on systems running in Citrix Cloud, AWS and Azure, including WVD. To maintain evergreen processes as surrounding systems change, service packs and version updates can be added easily, ensuring they can remain secure and removing the need for expensive infrastructure changes or training internal resource.

Other supporting technology allows businesses to maintain visibility of their current estate and identify where non-compliance could materialize. By adopting these solutions, the costly and disruptive ESU cycle is broken.

Future-proofing operations

The time-limited aspect of Windows 10 is a testament to the fact that in the world of technology, almost everything is eventually replaced or significantly updated. Businesses must ensure that they observe the lessons of the end-of-life saga with Windows 7 and apply it to Windows 10 and beyond, or otherwise be left behind by the ever-turning treadmill of change. Failing to do can have detrimental implications for business security, in addition to increased costs and inefficiencies.

Four years may seem like a long time to plan, but changes are already being made now to Windows 10 that could impact critical apps, and the spiraling cost and risk of moving on to ESUs is one that businesses can and need to avoid.

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