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What options exist for organizations that don't upgrade to Windows 10?

IT professionals and users can avoid Windows 10 by following best practices, such as disk space cleanup and up-to-date security, to maintain the life of an older operating system.

There's an old adage that says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", meaning if something is already working well, then there is no need to try to change or improve it. The same could be said for why some organizations don't upgrade to Windows 10.

It is common to feel pressure to upgrade to the latest software and hardware offerings. Microsoft is known to try and influence organizations to advance to the most recent operating system. If you are one of the rebels who doesn't upgrade to Windows 10, then you've come to the right place.

What to expect with Windows 7

Whether it has to do with the cost or with its faulty reliability, some companies are choosing to stick with Windows 7 and avoid Windows 10. Mainstream support for Windows 7 ended in January 2015, but extended support will continue until January 14, 2020. Windows 7 was commercially released in October 2009, and with multiple updates to the operating system, has continued to perform well for  users.

With DirectAccess for mobile workers, IT has the ability to distribute software updates to mobile devices, for instance. Windows 7 also has ability to integrate with legacy applications, and offers WAN optimization, virtual hard disk support, AppLocker for group policies and support for VDI. With these options available, Windows 7 can run with the big dogs of the enterprise.

What's new with Windows 10?

Some companies are choosing to stick with Windows 7 and avoid Windows 10.

What does Windows 10 have that Windows 7 doesn't? Microsoft developers focused on  three key areas: interface, security and manageability. After a lot of backlash with Windows 8 not being enterprise efficient, Windows 10 returns to familiars from Windows 7, such as the Start Menu. The OS runs on desktops, laptops, mobile and embedded devices, and can toggle between touchscreen and physical-keyboard interfaces. Windows 10 will be the final version of Windows.

What also sets Windows 10 apart is Task View. This feature allows virtual desktop users to have multiple desktop environments that they switch between. There is also the containerization feature, which gives IT admins control over user- and company-owned devices to manage and secure applications. The built-in mobile device management (MDM) eliminates the need to go to a third party for MDM. Microsoft also implemented Edge as the default browser, with new features to protect against hacking. Plus, Device Guard is an additional way to lock down devices with detections of malware, and for fingerprint authentication, there's Windows Hello.

Why worry about Windows 10?

Migrating to Windows 10 sounds like a pretty good option, right? Wrong. Both IT experts and users found a hard time just getting through the Windows 10 upgrade due to licensing, hardware and management changes. Also came issues of cost, reliability and compatibility, making some IT departments want to avoid Windows 10.

The free Windows 10 upgrade has publically expired, but there is a secret way for Windows users who have not yet upgraded to obtain a free upgrade. Windows 10 Pro is $199 per license, and Windows 10 Enterprise is available for $84 per user per year. Windows 10 also has proven to be unreliable, with substantial bugs and a hard time with Wi-Fi. Plus, Windows 10 has bombarded users with advertisements for the Windows Store, as well as pop-up surveys.

How well do you know the Windows 10 update process?

Put your Windows 10 update process knowledge to the test with this quiz – including where to find Windows 10 update bands and what editions of the OS support Current Branch for Business.

There is also the issue of application compatibility between Windows 7 and Windows 10, where some apps might require tweaking or cannot run on the latest OS at all. This causes hesitation from companies that require specific applications for familiarity and stored data. Compatibility issues have expanded with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, as Windows Pro users will not have access to App-V and UE-V anymore.

How to stay with an older OS

Organizations that don't upgrade to Windows 10 can instead upgrade Windows 7 to the unofficial Server Pack 2, which has years of patches and can help reduce reoccurring issues. And even if the OS is an older version, the hardware doesn't have to be. IT can upgrade drivers and devices for optimal Windows 7 use. IT should also refresh security updates routinely to keep an older OS current.

Additional best practices to avoid Windows 10 are to add memory and a solid-state drive as the primary boot drive. This will help stop crashes and take some of the heavy-lifting off the old hard disk. Similarly, IT can perform a disk cleanup to get rid of old files and applications, which clog up the RAM with unnecessary data. Finally, it would be wise to invest in lightweight applications, such as antivirus products and web browsers, and use online applications instead of desktop apps, which take up disk space.

Next Steps

How to prepare for a Windows 10 upgrade

Five major Windows 10 security alerts

How to combat common Windows 10 issues

This was last published in February 2017

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Windows 10 operating system

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