Microsoft has been in the news quite a bit over the past month, with stories about Windows old and new capturing the attention of consumers and businesses worldwide.
The first big news story concerned support for Windows 7. On January 13, 2015, Microsoft’s mainstream support for Windows 7 Service Pack (SP) 1 ended. This caused quite a stir after the recent retirement of Windows XP, with users fearing that Windows 7 would be facing a similar fate in the near future. All I have to say is… DON’T PANIC!!!
The end of mainstream support does not mean Microsoft is going to stop issuing security fixes for Windows 7 SP1 any time soon. “Mainstream support” is the period during which Microsoft provides free security and non-security updates for its products. “Extended support” – the phase that Windows 7 is entering now – is the period during which Microsoft continues to provide free security updates for products. Extended support for Windows 7 SP1 does not end until January 14, 2020, so everyone can rest easy.
For businesses, January 13 deadline also has no impact on the end-of-sales date for PCs running Windows 7 Professional. Microsoft has not provided a date when Windows 7 Professional will no longer be shipped to retailers or OEMs (HP, Dell, Lenovo, etc.). Microsoft have said they will provide one-year notice prior to end-of-sale.
Of course, any major support milestone should prompt forwarding-thinking business owners and IT professionals to consider the question of “what’s next?” Windows 8 received a lukewarm reception from users who decried the loss of the Start Menu, confusing interface changes, poor convergence of traditional PCs and touch-centric devices (hybrid laptops, tablets, etc.), among many other complaints. Many of these complaints are surface-level and ignore many of the significant “under-the-hood” improvements in Windows 8.x, but perception often becomes reality. Much as Windows Vista (also oft-maligned) led to Windows 7, Windows 8.x is paving the path to a significantly-improved Windows experience in Windows 10.
Microsoft held a major press event on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 – which has received nearly universal praise – where they unveiled the latest pre-release update of Windows 10 for PCs, tablets, and phones. Microsoft also made news with some impressive new gadgets such as the powerful team collaboration device, Surface Hub, and the groundbreaking holographic computing device, HoloLens, but most business users are, for now, interested in what’s coming for the Windows platform. The bottom line is this – Windows is getting more frequent, free updates; it’s going to work better across desktops, laptops, and tablets; and Microsoft is finally making Windows Phone more attractive for users deep in the Windows world.
One of the biggest announcements has nothing to do with the technology behind Windows 10, but rather with the price of Windows 10. Windows 10 will be free for customers running Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 during the first year of Windows 10’s life cycle. This is basically a promotional offer designed to improve adoption of Windows 10. However, there are some considerations – particularly for businesses. Microsoft stated “once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no additional charge.” This suggests that keeping Windows 10 up-to-date going forward is not optional; updates to the operating system from Microsoft will be mandatory. This concept of “Windows as a Service” will make version numbers less important going forward, and will allow Microsoft and developers to target a common and consistent user base. While this makes sense for consumers, businesses – who want more control over when updates are installed, which updates are installed, and which features are made available to employees – will never buy into this approach, and Microsoft knows it. Managed businesses can still license Windows 10 using traditional methods and self-service. One thing is for sure – if Microsoft intends to mandate updates and patches for the lifetime of devices, Windows Updates needs to be quicker and more reliable.
Next month, we’ll cover some of the new features you can look forward to in Windows 10. In the meantime, are you thinking about what the next step beyond Windows 7 is for your business? Have you left Windows XP behind for good (we certainly hope so!). Are you interested in moving to Windows 8.1? Colden Company is ready to help you with these questions and many more. Call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see us on Facebook or Twitter to get your Microsoft tools in top shape.