Avoid the Microsoft end of support apocalypse of 2020

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As of the writing of this blog, IT departments are under pressure from the impending end of life (EOL) for Microsoft Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. While nobody predicts a “Y2K” redux where PCs stop working, EOL means the over ten year-old PC operating system will no longer get software patches, including security updates, from Microsoft on Tuesday the 14th of January. If your business hasn’t completed your migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10, then you are literally hours away from the potential cyber-security nightmare of your employees working on PCs running unsupported software.

But did you know that Microsoft is ending support for more than just Windows 7 in 2020? Amaxra has found additional business-critical Microsoft software that is also facing EOL this year. Our expert consultants have actionable tips you can use to ensure you can keep supported with security updates—including Windows 7.

You might be eligible for a Windows 7 support extension

Microsoft has an Extended Security Updates (ESU) program for companies that for whatever reason cannot move their PCs with Windows 7 Pro, Enterprise, and Ultimate to Windows 10. The ESU program provides a company with Windows 7 security patches on a per-year basis, which can be renewed each year for three years total. For companies with a few Windows 7 PCs running a custom accounting program that is several years old and won’t work on Windows 10, the ESU is a reasonable short-term option while investigating alternative solutions.

However, the Windows 7 ESU program costs extra and those costs add up. It costs up to $62 per device in the first year of the Windows 7 ESU program, and the per-device price doubles each year. Microsoft provides each ESU-covered device with a new Windows 7 license key that must be installed to receive the security updates. So, when you are calculating the cost of ESU on your old PCs, remember to include the labor cost for your IT department to manage and install the new licenses. This means a company with only five PCs will pay thousands of dollars just for three additional years of Windows 7 security updates. Our recommendation, if this applies to you, is possibly extend for the first year but find a longer term solution after that – going into years 2 and 3 is when this becomes expensive.

Upgrade your on-premise Exchange Email and SharePoint Servers

Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, a staple for email services in both the SMB and enterprise space, reaches its EOL on October 13, 2020. Although originally slated to reach EOL with Windows 7, the popularity of Exchange Server 2010 meant that its original EOL date was extended. Additional server software used by businesses reaching EOL in October include SharePoint Server 2010 and Project Server 2010. Just like with Windows 7, no more security patches for communication and collaborating with your customers represents a cyber-security nightmare for your organization.

For large enterprises who aren’t ready to migrate their on-prem Exchange servers to the cloud, an Exchange Server 2010 upgrade requires “two hops” to get to the latest Exchange Server 2019—a complex process where the 2010 version must be first upgraded to either Exchange Server 2013 or Exchange Server 2016 before then upgrading again to the 2019 version.

For SMBs using on-prem versions of Exchange and SharePoint, Amaxra recommends migrating to the Exchange Online service through an Office 365 subscription. As a certified Microsoft Cloud Service Provider, Amaxra consultants have extensive experience moving organizations with fewer than 150 seats to Office 365 with Exchange Online in as little as a week. We can also perform so-called “hybrid” migrations where upgraded on-prem servers work in concert with cloud-based servers to ease you into a 100% cloud setup well before the October 13 EOL support cutoff date.

Don’t let your “ProPlus” version of Office 365 lose support!

“Office 365 ProPlus” is the familiar suite of Microsoft Office applications (e.g. Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word) that’s sold as part of Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscriptions. The ProPlus version is often used by businesses that want to limit the number of cloud-delivered productivity enhancing feature updates to a semi-annual basis rather than the typical monthly rollout of new features. This is advantageous to midsized companies that are either rapidly expanding or are at an inflection point in the business where in-house IT resources struggle to keep up with the demands of supporting (and sometimes training) employees on monthly Office 365 feature releases.

However, companies running Office 365 ProPlus apps on Windows 7 PCs will stop getting new features for Excel, Outlook, and the rest on January 14, 2020. Even if you purchase an ESU for Windows 7, Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus apps will no longer be updated with new productivity-enhancing features. That means if you planned to have Office 365 ProPlus on a Windows 7 PC with ESU until 2023, your Office 365 apps on that PC will be forever stuck in 2019 in terms of functionality.

You’re SOL if your business-critical software is EOL

If your company has any Windows 7, on-prem servers for Exchange or SharePoint, or you’re unclear about the support for your licensed software, connect with Amaxra. Our consultants will work to deploy a solution that upgrades and secures your business thanks to the power of the Microsoft cloud.

The simplest and most cost-effective for most companies reading this blog post will be to upgrade to Microsoft 365. Not only will all Windows 7 PCs get upgraded to Windows 10, but you also get the latest cloud-powered Microsoft Exchange email, SharePoint collaboration, and Office 365 productivity apps. When Amaxra deploys Microsoft 365 for your company, all of your apps and services are powered by Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure, easily managed from a single unified customer portal, and configured for optimal cyber-security by our certified experts.

Contact me at technology@amaxra.com or call 425 708 8841 if you have any questions or comments on this blog.

about the author

Mike Arntzen

Mike is an experienced Technology expert who is skilled in Enterprise Software and Security and Cloud Implementation. He has a strong engineering background graduated from the Royal Australian Air Force School of Radio, with postgraduate studies in Fibre Optics from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Known at Amaxra as "Mr FixIt" there isn't much Mike can't resolve. He has recently implemented Amaxra's switch to Skype for Business within the Amaxra office.

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