Windows 7 was released in October 2009 to replace the ill-fated Windows Visa, and it was a breath of fresh air for Windows users everywhere. It was fast, stable, and compatible with a wide range of personal computers and peripherals.
It’s no wonder, then, that there are still many people using Windows 7 even after the release of Windows 8 and its replacement, Windows 10. That includes not only individual users but businesses, many of them small businesses that are likely more inclined to make their products and provide their services than worry about upgrading to a new operating system.
If that’s you, then here’s the problem: Windows 7 has now reached its official end of life, meaning that Microsoft will no longer be providing any support. That means no technical support, no feature updates, no fixes, and even no security updates. It’s the latter that’s most problematic – if you remain on Windows 7, then you’re vulnerable to a host of attacks.
Simply put, you need to migrate from Windows 7 to another platform. The good thing is that Windows 10, if that’s your choice (read on for other options), you’ll gain a host of new features and functionality that will significantly enhance your company’s productivity. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Do it yourself or hire a pro?
The first question you should ask yourself is: should I handle this project myself or hire a professional? If you already have an IT person on call, then that’s where you should start. Yes, you’ll pay out some extra cash, but chances are you’ll save time and experience far fewer issues.
If you’re technically inclined, though, there’s nothing wrong with tacking the project by yourself. Some of the things you’ll need to know include the following:
- How to evaluate your current hardware and ensure it meets the requirements of whatever platform you choose for your migration.
- How to upgrade components on PCs that you choose to keep (if any).
- How to back up and restore your data before and after the migration.
- How to figure out the best financial options for upgrading.
- How to train your staff on the new operating system.
Those are the main areas where you’ll need to possess some expertise, and as long as you can handle those tasks then you should be able to manage the migration yourself. If not, then engaging a professional might be a good idea.
Is Windows 10 your only choice?
Upgrading to Windows 10 may be the default choice for Windows 7 users, but it’s not the only choice. You could also consider the open-source Linux operating system, which is free and provides solid security and performance. Or, you could consider Mac OS, which is as fully featured as Windows 10 and offers some unique advantages if your staff happens to use iOS devices.
There are a few advantages to sticking with Windows 10, however:
- Some or all of your current PCs might work just fine with Windows 10 without any additional expense.
- The learning curve from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will be less than moving to Linux or Mac OS.
- Most or all of your software will work with Windows 10.
We’re assuming for this article that you will be making the switch to Windows 10. But we did want you to be aware that you have options if for some reason Windows 10 doesn’t work for you.
Take stock of your equipment and software
The first and most important step to take will be to evaluate your current PCs and make sure they meet the requirements for Windows 10. At a very basic level, that’s easy enough to do: Windows 7 and Windows 10 have almost the same basic requirements:
- Processor: 1GHz or faster compatible processor
- RAM: 1GB for 32-bit Windows and 2GB for 64-bit Windows
- Hard drive size: 32GB or larger for Windows 10, 16GB for 32-bit Windows 7 and 20GB for 64-bit Windows 7
- Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 800×600 or higher
Of course, these are basic requirements and neither operating system will run particularly well with just these specifications. Chances are, though, that if you’ve purchased your PCs within the last five years (or maybe even earlier) then they’ll run on Windows 10 just fine.
Microsoft claims that most PCs that can run Windows 7 will run Windows 10 without issue, and that’s true up to a point. You’ll likely notice some slowdown once you’ve upgraded, but in many cases, you’ll find your PCs will run Windows 10 well enough to maintain your current productivity.
Even so, now would be a good time to assess each PC to see if it would benefit from more RAM or installing a solid-state drive. And your oldest PCs might need replacing. But that would probably be true even if you were to stick with Windows 7.
Making the jump
The first thing to do before you migrate to Windows 10 is to backup all your data. You should be doing this already, and so kicking off your backup routine just before you make the switch will ensure that your data is ready to go when the migration is complete. If you haven’t been backing up, then you’ll want to do so now. Make sure you use a tool that will allow you to easily restore your data to any new machines and any that don’t make it through the upgrade without issues.
Next, you’ll need to buy Windows licenses for each PC that you’ll be keeping and upgrading. Chances are, you’ll want to purchase Windows 10 Pro to ensure that the operating system will keep up with your business needs. Also, you’ll probably want to buy the 64-bit version – that will give you some confidence that you can run future 64-bit software.
There are a variety of ways to purchase Windows 10, and we have account executives that specialize in helping SMBs businesses purchase the correct number of licenses for their users and infrastructure. How to perform the installation is beyond the scope of this article, and that’s where we refer you back to the section on whether to perform the migration yourself or hire a professional.
Trust me – you want to make the upgrade to Windows 10 or move to a different up-to-date operating system. Malware has never been worse, and running a platform that will never get another security update is an awfully bad idea. In addition, you’ll gain new tools and functionality that will make your users more efficient and productive, whether you upgrade your current PCs or buy new machines.