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For organizations that still have a lot of Windows 7 devices in their fleet, it may be time to upgrade to Windows 10.
Windows 7, however, is one of the most popular Windows OS versions for a reason. In some particular circumstances, it could make sense to stay on Windows 7.
The popularity of Windows 7 prompted Microsoft to create downgrade paths that enabled users to get back to it from Windows 8 and the initial free Windows 10 automatic upgrade. Windows 7 boasts a variety of benefits, including application compatibility, a clean and simple user interface that resembled previous Windows versions, as well as performance and user experience improvements. The OS version offered enterprise-level features, like branch cache and direct access. Only recently did Windows 10 replace Windows 7 in popularity in the market.
Microsoft extended Windows 7 support to 2020, but it is unlikely it will extend it again. Office 2019 will not run on Windows 7, and it will be out of support. So, it will cost more to obtain support contracts.
It is not wise or cost-effective for organizations to have devices running unsupported Windows OSes. Microsoft and third-party support organizations will provide limited, rather than guaranteed, resolution. There will be no patches to fix new problems, and it will be expensive.
When should organizations stay on Windows 7?
Despite the new features that Windows 10 offers, Windows 7 outshines Windows 10 in two significant areas: application support and legacy hardware support. Legacy hardware always struggles with new Windows versions, and Windows 10 is no exception. The Windows 10 upgrade dialog takes the user through a set of questions designed to flush out an admission to having slow hardware and pointing to a hardware upgrade, rather than software.
Like those still running Windows XP or even Vista, organizations may have specific hardware in a lab or a manufacturing application with production software that is not supported on new versions of Windows. In some cases, an application may require older hardware.
There are good reasons to stay on Windows 7, but only for isolated, specific devices. Organizations shouldn't delay upgrading their entire fleet due to these devices or applications. If there is a mission-critical application that falls in the "Windows 7 or bust" category, organizations should get a new application or get the vendor to move it forward. Keeping the application on an unsupported platform will not be a good -- or cheap -- business decision.
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