Your options when Windows 7 reaches the end of the road

Windows 7, Server 2008/2008R2 and SBS2011 are reaching the end of their commercial lifecycle and from 14 January 2020 will no longer be supported by Microsoft.

If you’re one of the four in 10 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) currently using this software and others (see the full software list here ), what does it mean for you?

Microsoft will cease providing free feature updates, security patches and technical support so your IT set up will be rendered obsolete. Of course, you can continue to use this software, but your systems will be vulnerable and luck will be your shield against cyberattacks.

Yes, it’s a challenge, but there’s no need to panic. Three options are available and, if you act now, migrating from outdated software doesn’t have to disrupt your business operation.


With an on-premise solution all applications and data are on your hardware on your premises. Typically, this will include a Windows server which users connect to via a Local Area Network or Wi-Fi, with a VPN to allow remote workers to access the system. Upgrading to Server 2016 or Server 2019 will provide a like-for-like system but with enhanced features.

The main advantage is that you have absolute control; you know where your data is and the network will be faster than the internet for local users. This is also a disadvantage, since responsibility for managing the server rests entirely with you. The chief downside is cost, since you will likely need to upgrade your server hardware and may need to call on expert advice since VPNs can be complex and are not especially user-friendly. What’s more, to avoid low productivity due to outdated technology you will probably have to go through the process again, buying a new server every five years.

Cloud services

If you choose to work in the cloud, all data and applications are hosted on a third party’s data centre, such as Microsoft 365.

Services are location independent, so the big plus is that local and remote users share the same experience – anytime anywhere. SMBs going down this route will enjoy better tools and functionality and greater business resilience; you can work from anywhere so if your offices are hit by fire or flood, business continuity is a given.

Cloud services offer linear scalability. You enjoy the flexibility of ‘pay as you go’ based on a fee per user per month, which you can scale up or down depending on your business needs.

Relying on Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure means you can expect uptime of 99.995% – equivalent to about 7 minutes of downtime per year. And you will never have to go through the process of upgrading your IT system because Microsoft invests to deliver the best possible experience through the latest technology.

The most important issue is that cloud services are internet dependent, so this solution may not be for you if you have a poor broadband service. And it is not always the best fit for certain revenue models.


As the name suggests a hybrid solution is a mix of on-premise and cloud services. Data intensive operations often benefit from some location independence whilst also having access to applications and data on site.

You get the advantages and downsides of both solutions, of course, but cost is the biggest issue since you will need to invest to upgrade your server and also pay monthly so that your employees can work in the cloud.

Impact on performance

It’s estimated that the average employee loses almost two and a half weeks each year through technology failures. Put up with outdated IT for long enough and you can come to accept it as the new norm, although it can have a big impact on team performance.

Having a strategy to update your IT when you face the challenges posed by end of support could save your business more than £20,000 a year in terms of lost time, down time and service charges. And your employees will be encouraged to do their best at work.

If you’re affected by Microsoft’s decision to call a halt on support for Windows 7, Server 2008/2008R2 or SBS2011, find out what to do next by registering for our free webinar here.