Time is running out for Windows 7...

Posted on Tuesday, December 13, 2016
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By Sam Routledge
Chief Technology Officer


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Just when you thought it was safe to catch your breath post-Windows XP...We've got some potentially bad news for you if you are sticking with Windows 7 for the foreseeable future. The latest version of Intel's chipset, Kaby Lake, will not support Windows 7 (or 8 for that matter). This means that once the current generation stops shipping it's going to be a lot harder to buy new PCs or laptops if you want to run Windows 7. We expect this to be in Q2 of 2017 but it might be sooner if people start stockpiling Skylake machines!

This doesn't mean that existing Windows 7 machines will be unsupported. Microsoft has committed to supporting 7 for security and reliability through to 14th of January 2020. It does mean, however, that you should consider your options as it will soon be harder to obtain new hardware that is officially compatible with your operating system of choice. Clearly, one option is to migrate to Windows 10. This migration should be easier than say, XP to 7, as applications are more likely to be compatible, but any OS upgrade can be disruptive. If you do choose this option the Softcat Microsoft team are here to help as you'll need to upgrade Config Manager, import the latest Windows 10 group policy templates, understand how important Windows Store for Business is for apps like Edge, and sort out how you are going to manage updates at a minimum.

We are aware of some customers out there with specific applications that are not supported on 10. If that's you, you might like to consider the following options:

1. 'Stockpile' hardware

If you have a roll-out pending or cycle through replacing a percentage of your devices each year, you might like to consider forward-ordering a supply of hardware to give you time to plan your Windows 10 strategy. We can help you to negotiate a deal for quantity (hey, you might even beat the Brexit-induced price rises!), and we can bond, store, image and deliver the devices for you as you need.

2. Consider virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)

As virtual desktops are hosted on a hypervisor, compatibility is not so much of an issue and of course, the sessions can be delivered to any device. You can continue to run Windows 7 in this model until the end of support (or beyond although clearly, we would not recommend it!). There are many other benefits to VDI – thought it's technically complex, and not appropriate for every scenario so speak to the Softcat End User Computing (EUC) team to talk through your options.

3. Run a local Windows 7 virtual machine (VM) on VMware Workstation or equivalent

This is not necessarily an ideal long-term option as it can be confusing to less technologically literate users, but it could be a temporary option or suitable if this issue only affects a small number of users. Your VDI platform of choice may have an offline mode which could help with the centralised management of this approach.

4: Look at application packaging/virtualisation techniques

Application packaging or virtualisation techniques can enable a speedier migration.This really helps with compatibility between operating systems and can ease your migration significantly.

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If this is a potential challenge for your organisation, please contact your Softcat account manager or fill in the form below to arrange a conversation with one of our specialists.

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