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‘End of life’ for Windows: why does it matter?

If your company uses a Windows device or product, you need to know about ‘end of life’. Using a server, device or product past its end of life isn’t just a bad idea, it can put your business at risk. Here’s everything you need to know about end of life for Windows, and why it matters.

What is end of life?

Every Windows product and device has a support lifetime, which is the amount of time that Microsoft will continue issuing updates, fixes and security patches to that device. After that support lifetime is over, the product or device reaches end of life. ‘End of life’ is a phrase used by Windows to indicate to users that the device or product is no longer being supported by Microsoft. 

This isn’t just a Windows thing; Apple devices and products also have a support lifetime. They use the term ‘vintage’ to describe a device that will no longer receive updates, and the term ‘obsolete’ to describe devices that won’t be possible to repair. Although both Microsoft and Apple products and devices will continue to be functional once they reach end of life, or vintage/obsolete, updates from Microsoft or Apple will end. 

Why does it matter if I don’t receive updates?

When products or devices don’t receive updates, it means that they don’t receive security patches and fixes, and by extension are vulnerable to malware, viruses and targeted phishing attacks. 

When a company like Microsoft or Apple finds a security flaw, news of this flaw is published, as is the update to fix it. The updates are then pushed to every device that the company is still supporting, ie. products that have not reached their end of life. Computers, devices and laptops that receive the update are protected, but hackers can target users who are running older devices. 

Phishers and hackers can then exploit the security flaw, targeting those devices which they know will not have received the update. This is particularly devastating for businesses and larger organisations; for example, the ransomware WannaCry that infected NHS computers and devices in 2017 was so effective due to the fact that the NHS was running old and outdated software.

What to do about end of life

Businesses need to be aware of which products and devices are reaching their end of life, and when. This is particularly important for servers which your business depends on in order to continue operations. 

If an operating system is coming to its end of life, then it's time to plan for what you’re going to do in the future. For businesses, this can be a long process, and as such it is important to plan well ahead of time, so that your business is not at risk. 

For servers, there are a couple of options. Businesses might choose to upgrade to a new server that provides the same things, or it might be time to change to something different, such as moving to the cloud. It might be worth adapting your processes so that the server isn’t needed. 

The most important questions businesses need to ask are as follows:

  • What does this product or service do for us now?
  • Do we need those facilities?
  • Can those facilities come from somewhere else?

If you aren’t sure about the answers to those questions, don’t worry; your friendly IT support team is here to help. We’re happy to talk to you about end of life, which of your operating systems need to be updated, and the best way for your business to upgrade. 

Give us a call on 0191 482 0444 to talk about when your business needs to upgrade

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