MSPs, integrators, and solution providers are probably aware that Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system is approaching the end of its life. The company expects to end free support and halt security updates by January 2020, meaning that users of the tried-and-true operating system will have to migrate to Windows 10 rather quickly.
However, a recent survey by Adaptiva reveals that a significant percentage of IT departments are not prepared to complete their migration to Windows 10 in time, and will have to turn to outside help if they hope to make the deadline.
The survey of 450 IT professionals revealed that 22 percent of those polled still expect to be running Windows 7 after January 2020, potentially leaving unpatchable systems exposed to new threats.
Many customers have put their move to Windows 10 on the back burner, according to Raj Mehta, CEO of New York-based systems integrator RAJ Technologies.
"They will regret that decision come next year when hackers will look to further exploit older versions of Windows," he said.
The survey indicates that many respondents underestimate the impact of performing Windows 10 migrations. Only 22 percent of respondents have completely migrated to Windows 10, while over a third (38 percent) still need to migrate more than half their systems. Some 21 percent say they still need to migrate 20 to 50 percent of their systems.
Mehta adds: "Migration is not an easy process, and many of those that have delayed it will find that a migration will take up many more resources than anticipated."
Despite the looming deadline and the fact that migrations can be troublesome events, 78 percent of those surveyed expect to have migrated 100 percent of their systems by January 2020. Yet 56 percent said it will take them anywhere from seven months to over a year to migrate to Windows 10, indicating that a majority of those surveyed will miss the 14 January deadline.
That disconnect between expectations and reality will become more magnified as the deadline draws closer. Only 31 percent of those surveyed said they were in an excellent position to complete the Windows 10 migration.
Mehta said: "The looming deadline creates two opportunities for my business. The first being one of supporting Windows 7 systems after the deadline by securing those systems. The second is helping businesses migrate their systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10, or even drive new PC sales or alternatives to Windows."
In the past, many of the deadlines set by Microsoft have slipped, with the company relenting and still offering support or delaying end of life on a product. Perhaps that is the reason for a lack of urgency to complete the upgrades.
Or it may be due to a perception of limited value offered by making the move to Windows 10.
A case in point is that 89 percent of respondents said the primary reason they are now finally making this shift, four years after the launch date of Windows 10, is that Microsoft is pulling free support. Solution providers may be able to use that apathy to their advantage, once enterprises realize that they will have to pay one way or another.
Enterprises that don't make the switch in time will have to turn to solution providers to support and secure their Windows 7 systems, and those that desire to make the switch may need to turn to those same solution providers to accelerate adoption.
"With Microsoft pursuing desktop-as-a-service under Azure, with the new Windows Virtual Desktop offering, there may be another opportunity for solution providers: one of moving Windows 7 users into virtual desktops," added Mehta.
One thing is certain: the end-of-life deadline for Windows 7 will still take many businesses by surprise and solution providers that create a formula or service to ease migrations are sure to garner business from the death of Windows 7.
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