Tech Blog


Should you upgrade to Windows 10 or stay with Windows 7?


Windows 7 is now more than five years old and users are being prompted to upgrade to Windows 10. The question we are often asked is “Should I be preparing to upgrade the operating system (OS) on our business computers?”

Despite Windows 8 being released more than two years ago, Windows 7 is still the dominant desktop OS. More than 55 per cent of computers browsing the web use Windows 7, compared to less than 14 per cent that run Windows 8 or 8.1, according to Net Applications.

That’s not surprising given Windows 8’s lukewarm reception, and our argument that the new interface made it more suited to tablets than conventional laptops and PCs. And if Windows 7 is still working well for your business systems – should you upgrade?

My Dad is often fond of saying “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it?” and I am going to apply that same argument here. If Windows 7 and your computer isn’t broken, then – No – don’t upgrade to Windows 10. However, there is a caveat to this argument and that is: “The end of mainstream support”.

“Mainstream support’ for Windows 7 ended on 13 January 2015 – should that concern your business?

The answer lies in Microsoft’s Windows support policy. Put simply, the company provides two support phases:

1.    Mainstream support, during which Microsoft provides regular feature and security updates, and significant upgrades called ‘service packs’
2.    ‘Extended support’, when Microsoft winds back its support and development, providing only essential security updates.

When extended support expires, the product reaches ‘end of support’ – which means no more security updates. This is important because highly complex operating systems need to be continually ‘patched’ as new vulnerabilities come to light. For example, Windows XP reached end of support in April 2014, so if you’re still using this OS, your computer may be highly vulnerable to security breaches.

Fortunately, Microsoft allows a generous amount of time before an OS reaches end of support, and it publishes a timeline to help businesses plan their upgrades – see the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.

Five years to go

The good news is that extended support for Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) expires in January 2020, so there’s no need to rush an upgrade.

However, if your computers are ageing, slowing down or becoming less reliable, the Windows 10 release might be an opportune time to upgrade. Deploying a new OS will require training and some disruption to your business, but upgrading both the hardware and OS at the same time will at least minimise any productivity loss. However you do need to make sure that Windows 10 will support any older legacy programs you may need to still run, before you upgrade.

In return, Windows 10 offers a number of productivity enhancements. In particular, it has a vastly improved interface that automatically adapts to the device it runs on, offering a traditional Windows 7-style desktop for PCs and laptops, or a touch-friendly, Windows 8-style interface for tablets.

Mark Coleman
About Mark Coleman
Director of Brainworx Computer Services and the sub brands of Mailworx and Dataworx

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