start-menu1After seven years, Windows 7 is rapidly approaching its final days.  Already phased out of Standard Support cycle, Windows 7 will soon leave the authorized sales market on October 31st.   If you are in the market for a Windows 7 PC, your options are about to get a bit more limited.

Microsoft support and sale cycles are something most people don’t spent a lot of time thinking about.  For each operating system, Microsoft gives a set “end date” for the sale, Standard Support and Extended Support of a product.  The end of Standard Support is the date that an operating system will stop receiving new features and quality of life patches.  The end of Windows 7 Standard Support occurred back on January 13th, 2015.  End of Extended Support is when an operating system will stop receiving security updates and patches.  These updates help protect against viruses and malware.  The End of Sales date is a bit more complicated because it effects more than just the official Microsoft distribution channels.

Officially, the End of Sales date means that OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) can no longer build PCs with Windows 7 Pro after October 31, 2016.  This does open up a few loopholes, however.  While new PCs are a no-go, the restriction does not include computers built prior to the deadline.  This means that old inventory can still be sold as normal.  Enterprise customers with volume licensing agreements are also granted a bit of freedom in that they may continue to use custom install images that incorporate their preferred version of Windows.

These two options are fine for personal users and enterprise class businesses but it does leave small and medium businesses without much room to expand.  Even if these businesses manage to attain a copy of Windows 7, running the OS on modern hardware can introduce its own problems.  Without official support from Microsoft and no economic incentive, hardware developers have no reason to develop drivers or support tools for old operating systems.  This means that any compatibility problems fall on the user to either fix or ignore at their own peril.  Either way, as the Extended End of Support date grows nearer, considering an upgrade to Windows 10 is likely a better long term investment.

If your business is still unsure about what upgrade path to take, we can help.  Contact our support team and we will help guide you on the path to a successful Operating System upgrade.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Webmaster and Lead Designer