For Businesses Everywhere, The Coming Win 7 End of Life Looms Large

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When setting the annual IT budget, a lot of businesses seem to lean on the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That would at least explain why Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system – which admittedly has been a reliable workhorse – still owns 35 percent of the market nearly 10 years after its release. Now that the Windows 7 End of Life (EOL) deadline is less than a year away, a lot of companies are suddenly realizing they need to act fast to ensure their computers are supported after January 15, 2020.

There’s a lot to consider, so let’s look at what’s involved in updating your company’s fleet of Win 7 machines, how to prepare for the roadblocks you might face, and what you can do to streamline the process to ensure your IT infrastructure is protected.

Windows 7 End of Life: What to Do?

What would happen to a company if they decided not to upgrade to Windows 10? The immediate result is that these organizations would no longer receive the updates and security patches needed to keep their OS viable once the Windows 7 end of life date comes and goes.

Windows 7 End of Life

An unsupported system will become less stable, performance will degrade, unpatched vulnerabilities will risk online attacks, and the IT infrastructure will no longer meet business or regulatory compliance requirements.

In addition, a company that does not stay current with their Windows operating system will face an increasing number of compatibility issues. Over time, such an outdated system will prevent the company from adopting new tools and curb its ability to grow, compete, and ultimately survive.

With Windows 7 End of Life, Support Ends

Initially Microsoft was going to sunset Windows 7 in 2015 but given the reluctance of users to upgrade to Win10, the company extended support for an additional five years.

All good things must come to an end, however, so as the final deadline came into view during 2018, a mass migration from Win 7 to Win 10 began in earnest. By December the Win 10 marketshare finally overtook the older OS’.

As more users made the transition, several common issues arose that revealed how problematic the migration can be.

Companies that have multiple machines that need a Windows 10 upgrade should expect their IT departments to be tied up for a while – because upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 can be complicated, time-consuming, and involve a lot of manual work.

The Challenges of Upgrade to Windows 10

What makes the migration so challenging? Let’s put aside the fact that Windows 10 updates have a history of not always worked properly. When it comes to transitioning from Windows 7 specifically, a big part of the problem is caused by the fact there is no automatic upgrade in-place.

Microsoft doesn’t offer out-of-the-box support for transitioning from the 32-bit Window 7 to Windows 10’s 64-bit standard. As a result, moving to Win10 often requires a full refresh of the laptop or desktop. If you think about running a Win 10 install on each individual Win 7 machine, it becomes clear why the process is time-consuming and requires a lot of manual work from administrators.

Throughout the process, IT departments must preserve each user’s data, apps and settings – which can be challenging, time-consuming and expensive when upgrading multiple machines manually.

Windows 7 End of Life: What to Do?

Finding a way to streamline the preparation process and ensure the accuracy of migration is critical, especially if you want to keep the investment in time and effort from spinning out of control.

An important first step is to start the process sooner rather than later. January 2020 might sound like a long way off, but getting a start now helps guarantee you still have time to make adjustments if need. After all, we all know issues can arise – even with the perfect migration plan in place, it is better to build extra time into the schedule so you can address any curveballs that come your way.

Next, find a migration tool that will help streamline the process and minimize the amount of manual work you will need for configuring and deploying multiple Windows 10 machines. Ideally, the solution should also ensure the files, apps and settings of individual users are also preserved.

How to Migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 10

An effective option to simplify your Windows 10 update is to combine Microsoft’s User State Migration Tool with Acronis Snap Deploy. Used in tandem, they provide a fast, easy, and foolproof way to migrate existing files, apps, and settings: This approach delivers rapid bare-metal deployment of a master image of your company’s default Win 10 configuration to multiple machines at the same time.

Rather than being forced to tackle individual installs of every Windows 7 machine in your company, Acronis Snap Deploy allows you to deploy any standard configuration you choose to all of them at once – including the OS, files, and applications, as well as machine-specific configurations such as machine names, IP addresses, domain membership, etc. You’ll save time and effort, plus Acronis Snap Deploy takes care of Windows Settings after deployment is complete.

In addition, you also can deploy to live Windows machines – eliminating the need to manually boot individual PCs, saving you even more time.

How to Migrate User Settings

At a very high level, using Acronis Snap Deploy with Microsoft’s USMT simplifies the process to four steps:

1. Prepare Windows 7 machines which need to be upgraded by installing:

  • Microsoft USMT (USMT) from the Windows ADK package
  • Acronis Snap Deploy 5 Management Agent component

2. Run USMT on Windows 7 machines with /ScanState parameter to capture the current configuration and save it on some remote location, e.g. network share.

3. Prepare Windows 10 machine by installing USMT and other required applications specific to your environment. This machine will be used as a single “Master” image source for deployment on all Windows 7 machines.

4. Configure the deployment task in Acronis Snap Deploy and run the deployment using post-deployment scripts, which will run USMT with /LoadState parameter in order to apply individual (per-machine) users’ settings after deployment.

Final Thought

After 10 years serving as the work horse for so many companies, the coming Win 7 end of life means business must put the operating system out to pasture. Unfortunately, past issues and Microsoft’s lack of support means companies can expect the upgrade to Windows 10 to be a time-consuming and potentially painful process.

Reducing that pain and streamling the process is easy with a bit of planning and selecting the right tools to help with migration. Acronis Snap Deploy can ensure your Windows 10 upgrade will be fast, easy, and trouble-free. To learn more or get a free trial, click here.

About Acronis

A Swiss company founded in Singapore in 2003, Acronis has 15 offices worldwide and employees in 50+ countries. Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is available in 26 languages in 150 countries and is used by over 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.