Windows 7 was released in 2009, and has been the staple operating system for many users ever since. Almost 10 years on, it still runs the majority of PC software currently available and typically ‘just works’.
However, after 14 January 2020, the free support and security updates provided by Microsoft for this ageing operating system will come to an end. Why?
It’s partly down to money – Microsoft generates its revenues by selling licenses for new software and operating systems – but also the fact that Windows 7 was developed using the best technology 2009 had to offer. And 10 years is a long time in the technology world.
What to do now
Any devices in your setting that run Windows 7 (or earlier versions of Windows) will need to be upgraded to Windows 10, which might mean having to replace older hardware that lacks the power or hard drive space to run Windows 10 properly.
You’ll also need to consider the migration of your users’ data, whether the key applications you use are compatible with the newer operating system, and the extent to which staff will have to be familiarised with how Windows 10 and/or their new hardware works.
If you choose not to upgrade and your software fails after 14th January 2020, you may not be able to get it running again. Plus, in the absence of new security updates, your whole school IT security could be permanently compromised – cast your mind back to the 2017 ‘WannaCry’ malware attack on the NHS…
The hardest part of upgrading is the need to plan around times when staff can be without their workstations. Each upgrade can take around an hour, but by involving staff in your planning, you can help reduce the impact of the change.
Prior to upgrading, you should consider four key points. Where do users currently store their information? What software do your staff and students need?
Does your school have the necessary licenses? And do you have any machines that can’t run Windows 10?
In terms of licensing costs, Windows 10 upgrades come included as part of the Microsoft Open Value Subscription Agreement for Education Solutions. If your setting isn’t signed up to this, you may need to purchase Windows 10 licenses separately or else put in place a new licensing agreement.
Your MAT or LA may be able to provide technical support for managing and implementing the upgrade process, or opt to outsource the work. The implementation itself may require covering the costs of new machines, and/or the cost of a technical resource to perform your upgrades.
Migrating your systems away from Windows 7 may seem like a big project for relatively little immediate gain, but it’s a necessary one if you wish to keep your ICT systems secure and able to support new educational developments and innovations.
If you’re unsure as to your licensing status, or lack technical resources of your own, engaging a support provider such as One Education ICT Support early on can help you understand what the required changes will involve and their cost implications.
Dale Jones is a service delivery manager at One Education, having previously worked in ICT engineering, consultancy and management roles across a range of educational settings.