Note: This blog refers to Windows 7 Professional. If you have Windows 7, 8 or 10 Home Edition in your company - which can happen if you purchased a computer from a store - then you also need to purchase a one time upgrade to a Professional version. From there you can follow any of the routes discussed in this blog. We know this can be confusing so reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be more than happy to provide guidance in your specific circumstance including why you absolutely do not want to be on a Home version for business.
Do you still have Windows 7 PCs in your organization? You now have less than five months to decide on what you're going to do about those PCs. Microsoft has made it clear that on January 14, 2020 there will be no more cybersecurity updates to Windows 7—a subtle hint that businesses should move to Windows 10. But what exactly are your options for your company's Windows 7 "end of life" journey? And where is the best place for you to begin?
Amaxra consultants have worked on several Windows 7-to-Windows 10 migrations in the past year. In general, we have found businesses in this situation have five options:
- Keep the status quo and stick with using Windows 7
- Purchase new Windows 10 PCs from a big box retailer or online store
- Buy individual licenses of Windows 10 from an online retailer
- Enter into an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft for "Volume Licensing" (depends on company size)
- Subscribe to Microsoft 365 which includes cloud-based Windows 10 licenses
Yes, there will be some who consider the first option even though Amaxra believes it should only be considered in the most extreme of circumstances. That's because the cybersecurity attack surface of a Windows 7 device is 2X larger than Windows 10 according to a survey conducted in 2019 by antivirus software maker Webroot. In that same survey, the company found an over 400% increase in malware infections on PC hardware running Windows 7 versus the same PC hardware running Windows 10. That will only get worse on January 15, 2020.
So, which of the remaining Windows 10 upgrade options is best for your company?
Buy new PCs: The "Costco/Amazon/Walmart" option
For smaller businesses, option two might work. Windows 7 is over ten years old, so it's not unusual if it's been a long time since you bought new PCs. For some, it's just time for an upgrade. PC makers and sellers want new customers and you can get good deals on a new Windows 10 PC right now buying direct from Costco or Amazon. But while Amaxra would recommend buying a PC from these stores for personal/individual use, we caution entrepreneurs when buying business PCs from them to first understand the downsides.
The best prices on PCs from retailers often do not come preloaded with Windows 10 Pro, which is essential for business users. Windows 10 Pro includes features such as enterprise-grade data encryption, the ability to connect to secure wide area networks, and remote device management (e.g. you can remove sensitive corporate data and lock all users out of the laptop if an employee loses it on a business trip) that you can't get on cheaper Windows 10 Home PCs. Another disadvantage is that even if you do find a good deal on new PCs with Windows 10 Pro preloaded from a retailer, those PCs are often also preloaded with consumer-focused apps for photo and video editing that you either don't need or will be incompatible with your business apps. This means your IT department (and at a smaller business, that's sometimes also the owner) is required to waste time with uninstalling unneeded apps and generally configuring Windows 10 Pro for your business.
Buy individual Windows 10 Pro licenses for a DIY upgrade
Option three is when you have new-ish PCs and know that Windows 10 Pro will run perfectly fine on them. Microsoft makes it easy to buy an upgrade license for each Windows 7 PC. This option also gives you more control over the installation and configuration of the Windows 10 upgrade.
The downside of this option is that it is the most labor-intensive options and does not scale. You will have to physically walk around to everyone's PC and manually upgrade each one to Windows 10 Pro. Unless you have a small number of PCs and a lot of time, this option is out.
Enterprise Agreements (EAs) and Volume Licenses (VLs)
Option four is the choice most often used by mid-to-large businesses. You enter into an EA directly with Microsoft who provide your organization with bulk licenses of Windows 10 that your IT department can remotely install into your PCs. A large company with an EA and VLs can upgrade lots of Windows 7 PCs to Windows 10 with relative ease, but it's also very expensive and requires a dedicated IT team to work. This is not a good option for SMBs.
Microsoft 365: Your business' best option for Windows 7 upgrades
No matter the size of the organization, Amaxra has found that the simplest, most cost-effective solution for companies facing the inevitable Windows 7-to-Windows 10 upgrade is Microsoft 365.
Microsoft 365 is a subscription service that bundles Windows 10 Pro with the must-have Office 365 productivity apps, and then ties it all together with cloud-based cybersecurity and device management. Microsoft 365 is the perfect solution for businesses to upgrade old Windows 7 PCs to Windows 10 because it comes with cloud-based tools to make the process as painless as possible—even when you have limited IT resources at your office.
Subscribing to Microsoft 365 means that for a low monthly fee your business gets not only the latest and most secure version of Windows 10 Pro on every PC, you also have the latest versions of Microsoft Office apps. The Microsoft 365 option means that you don't spend the money to purchase new PC hardware, waste the effort of keeping track of license purchases, or deal with the complexity of a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement with Volume Licensing. Best of all, this inclusive bundle of operating system, productivity apps, and cybersecurity is served from Microsoft's global cloud infrastructure and managed from a single unified customer portal (which is perfect for SMBs with limited IT resources).
Amaxra & Microsoft 365 make your Windows 7 upgrades easier
When you purchase Microsoft 365 through Amaxra, you can focus on your business and let us take care of the IT for you. Amaxra consultants work with you
to design a plan to deploy Microsoft 365 in a way that not only upgrades your Windows 7 PCs but also optimizes them for your unique business. And as
a Microsoft certified Gold-level Partner, Amaxra leverages our years of expertise to ensure you get outstanding customer service, increased productivity,
enhanced protection, and knowledgeable experts to serve your team.