Yes, winter is coming (we've been looking for a way to tie that line in) and on January 13th, Microsoft will be ending it's free mainstream support for some key products, including the very popular Windows 7 Operating System (OS).
First, let's define "mainstream support". That is the (typically) five-year period where good old Microsoft will provide free fixes-including (but not limited to) security updates. When mainstream support comes to an end for a specific product, Microsoft will continue to provide a period-usually 5 years-of extended support, where users get free security fixes but all other types of updates are paid and require very specific licensing deals.
When Microsoft talks about "End of Support", they are basically saying that there will be no more IT support, fixes, or patches, regardless of it is paid or free.
Mainstream support will also end on the same January 13 date for all versions of Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, along with all editions of Window Storage Server 2008.
Just like the end of days of Windows support for XP in April 2013, users need to begin planning a "migration strategy" to a new operating system.
For those that are planning, looking for help in switching, or for those companies who are on the fence considering a change, here are steps to make your transition as seamless and painless as possible.
1. Back up your information. And we mean everything.
everything: pronoun \ˈev-rē-ˌthiŋ\: everything that exists | all that there is. You see where we went with that? Yeah, back it up. All of it and don't be shy. If you have an option to select an item for backup. Back it up.
2. Failing to plan really is planning to fail. So prepare and plan for the transition.
With all that we've written here, you may want to rush out and start installing a new operating system right away. Relax, you don't have to. What you should do, however, is talk to colleagues or a trusted company who has gone through an OS transition and how the steps they took in handling it. Which version of Windows did they switch to? Or how do they plan to switch, if they are? Professional IT techs are a great asset and can help with advising the best practices approach for your needs.
3. Will you need a new PC or laptop?
Your current computer may work just fine with a new OS, but be sure that it is compatible with whatever system you end up buying. The System Requirements page on Microsoft's site is a great place to find out.
4. Remember #1? Now make a full disk copy.
Don't simply copy and paste files you have in Explorer. This will not work sufficiently. Windows operating systems are complex with all kinds of configurations like Favorites, Settings, Bookmarks and setting you probably don't know exist. Cover your a... uh, bases and get an external USB hard drive with a big enough capacity or you can use a cloud storage service.
5. Don't throw away any backups. Backup is step numero uno in recovery of lost data.
We get it, you want as much space on your external hard drive as possible for recent vacation photos. But when you need to access that special file or folder three months from now, you'll thank us for old #5.
So there you have it. And if you do decide to begin the transition away from Windows 7 and the process is just too much for your organization, we are always here to help you analyze and advise on the next step your company should be taking.
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