This content is part of the Essential Guide: Complete guide to Windows 10 migration

Windows 7 migration costs more with procrastination

As Windows 7's EOL approaches, shops must consider how to transition away from the aging operating system. In extended support, companies must pay for help from Microsoft.

Although Windows 7 is widely regarded as a stable and reliable operating system, those organizations that are still using it must consider if or when they will retire it.

Windows 7 was first released in July 2009 and is beginning to show its age. As a result, Microsoft is encouraging customers to make the transition to Windows 10.

Many organizations adopt the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy regarding desktop operating systems and are understandably reluctant to phase out an OS that functions perfectly well. But there are two pressing issues that may warrant a transition to Windows 10 sooner than later.

The first of these issues is the impending Windows 7 end of life. Microsoft discontinued support for Windows 7 on April 9, 2013 and support for Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 ended on January 13, 2015.  Right now, Windows 7 is in the extended support phase of its product lifecycle, and extended support scheduled to end on January 14, 2020.

It's easy to use the fact that extended support for Windows 7 does not expire until 2020 as a way to rationalize procrastinating on a desktop operating system upgrade. But in the long run, it can cost more money to hold off on an update. There are two reasons for this:

Don't let Windows 7 migration costs build

Firstly, Windows 10 is available for free for some Windows 7 customers until July 29, 2016. Organizations that make the upgrade prior to this deadline can use their Windows 10 licenses for free for as long as they wish. Once this deadline expires however, organizations must pay for the necessary Windows 10 licenses to upgrade. The license cost varies depending on edition: Windows 10 Home sells for $119, and Windows 10 Pro costs $199. Organizations that choose to take advantage of Microsoft's offer will receive an edition of Windows 10 comparable to the edition of Windows 7 they currently run, but Windows 7 Enterprise is not eligible for a free upgrade.

Another reason waiting to migrate off Windows 7 costs more is that the OS is in extended support, whereas Windows 10 is in mainstream support. The differences between mainstream support and extended support really boil down to the fact that Microsoft does not accept feature requests for products in the extended support phase, nor does the company provide complimentary support. Companies must pay for the only formal support that is available for Windows 7, which meant it's possible staying on Windows 7 costs more over the life and death of the OS.

Even if an organization decides not to perform an immediate transition to Windows 10, they must still begin thinking about how to eventually phase Windows 7 out. Proper migration planning takes a lot of time to complete, and the application compatibility testing phase of the planning process is especially long and important. Upgrade planning probably isn't something shops will be able to tackle in a weekend.

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