Microsoft’s products are not designed to last forever. Every software application gets a minimum of 10 years of support after their release. The first five years of the support phase covers troubleshooting, tech support, major feature updates, and security patches. Meanwhile, the second half is dedicated solely to providing security patches and bug fixes.
After 10 years, Microsoft will stop supporting their software – this is known as the end-of-life (EOL) date. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, in particular, are nearing their EOL date (January 14, 2020), which means users need to upgrade their systems soon. The problem is that many businesses have trouble moving on from the Microsoft software they know and love. In fact, Windows XP, an operating system (OS) released in 2001, is still being used by millions of businesses around the world.
While there’s nothing stopping people from using outdated Microsoft software, it doesn’t mean they should. Putting off upgrades can often seem like the most convenient option, but it actually exposes your business to a slew of risks.
Increased security vulnerabilities
Once software reaches its EOL date, Microsoft no longer issues security updates and customer support. This means every second you use outdated software increases your exposure to a wide range of cyberattacks. WannaCry ransomware in 2017, for example, affected hundreds of thousands of businesses using unsupported Windows XP. The ransomware was able to spread to 150 countries due to a critical weakness in Windows XP’s network protocol.
Besides spreading ransomware, an unpatched vulnerability can enable hackers to monitor your activities, access your applications, and steal your data. Critical weaknesses in outdated software even allow cybercriminals to circumvent the toughest firewalls and antivirus software.
By upgrading to the latest Microsoft software like Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019, you’re less susceptible to attacks. Not only does Microsoft issue regular updates for these products, but they also come chock-full of security features. Windows 10, for instance, has built-in web filtering, app protection, and device and account management.
Noncompliance with regulations
In addition to security risks, sticking with the decade-old Windows 7 can lead to serious legal repercussions. The Privacy Act 1988 requires Australian businesses to meet certain standards for ensuring the privacy and integrity of sensitive data. To be compliant, companies must store data in a secure and fully supported platform.
However, failing to upgrade means you’re liable to break these regulations, resulting in hefty fines and even heftier lawsuits. According to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), noncompliance penalties for businesses can go up to $1.7 million.
What’s worse, noncompliance can also tarnish your relationship with customers and business partners. This can lead to considerable financial losses and even the end of your business.
Higher operating costs
Managing post-EOL Microsoft software can drive up costs in the long run. Since Microsoft doesn’t provide updates for outdated software, your systems are prone to crashing and will need constant attention from IT support. This can incur additional costs, especially because IT support companies mark up prices for maintaining outdated software.
Microsoft is offering extended updates for three years for Windows 7 Pro and Enterprise licenses, but this can still be expensive. For Enterprise users, extended updates cost $25 in the first year, $50 in the second year, and $100 in the third. On the other hand, Pro users will have to pay $50 in the first year up to $200 in the third year.
Even if you have an in-house IT department, patching outdated Microsoft software can be difficult. Oftentimes, they’ll be forced to use suboptimal workarounds to address complex bugs and security issues. Frequent system crashes also consume a huge chunk of time that your IT staff would rather devote to improving business processes. The same goes for employees too. Higher failure rates increase costs resulting from productivity loss.
Poor business performance
Another problem with running outdated Microsoft software is that you miss out on exciting new features. Staying with Windows 7 means you’re stuck with an inefficient system that is incompatible with modern enterprise apps. Windows 10, on the other hand, not only runs the newest software, but also offers cloud integrations and Cortana.
The latest Microsoft software allows you to work smarter and outperform less tech-savvy businesses. Employees can work uninterrupted thanks to regular bug fixes and security patches. Plus, your systems are also more reliable and secure, so clients are more likely to put their trust in your services. By contrast, you don’t enjoy any of these benefits the longer you use outdated Microsoft software.
All in all, using post-EOL Microsoft software doesn’t make sense for businesses. From higher chances of security threats to missed business opportunities, there are simply too many risks with old systems.
If you’re still using Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, or other legacy Microsoft software, you’re due for an upgrade. Call Empower IT today to fully upgrade your systems and avoid a multitude of risks. We’re one of the top managed IT services providers (MSP) in Australia that can help you with all things regarding Microsoft.