Farewell to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2010

Farewell to Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2010

Three Microsoft products retire from active duty this week. These are popular products that have served many organisations well over the years.  As of 14 January 2020, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange 2010 come out of extended support. What does this mean and what are the options ahead of you, if any, if you are still employing these products? 

Let’s start with Windows 7

Windows 7 logo on screen

The desktop operating system that gave us innovative features such as aero shake (which isn’t a chocolate milkshake but the picking up of one window shaking it and minimising everything else), Notification and Action Centre (for important notifications and not so important ones) as well as Biometrics, BitLocker to Go and AppLocker.  

Windows 7 was admittedly Marmite product, but whatever your feelings towards it, we can thank it for paving the way for many of the features that now make up Windows 10.  While some people preferred to stick with XP or leapt straight to Windows 8, many embraced Windows 7 across their estates. In fact, 27% of traditional PCs were running Windows 7 in November 2019, so if you still have it running in your environment you’re certainly not alone. Another certainty is that we can all agree it was a huge improvement on Windows Vista, an operating system only beaten in the rogues gallery by Windows Me!  

What does the end of Windows 7 mean?

Well, it means not receiving any security updates and patches and as we know that is a bad thing. As more ransomware hits the news every day, not being patched leaves us vulnerable to the next WannaCry. Its demise also means that you won’t receive any technical support from Microsoft. 

Love it or loathe it, if you still have it running on your network you need to think about your plan going forward. So, what are the options for Windows 7? 

Upgrade to Windows 10

This is without a doubt the best option, but in large estates this can take time.  The good news is that once you are on Windows 10 that’s the last operating system upgrade you’ll do – or so Microsoft tells us – as Windows 10 is an Evergreen or Windows as a Service OS. Evergreen IT refers to running services comprised of components that are constantly being updated.  

Pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU)

If you have a Microsoft 365 license you can purchase this add-on per device, however, they are not cheap. Bear in mind that the price doubles for year two and then the year two price doubles for year three... Ouch on the purse strings. 

Virtualise Windows 7 with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD)

Another option to still get updates is to virtualise your Windows 7, migrating it into the Azure cloud with WVD. You can migrate your Windows 7 desktops to Azure WVD and benefit from three years’ support at no extra cost. Just consider the cost of your Azure compute and your Microsoft Enterprise 365 licenses.

If you are a Government or Education customer and you have Windows 10 E5, Microsoft 365 E5 or EMS E5 licenses you could have opted into Windows 7 Extended Security Updates free for one year. The catch here (those with keen eyes may have noticed I stated “could have”) is the deadline for opting in was the 31 December 2019.  

So you do have some options with Windows 7; some cost you effort to roll-out Windows 10, some will involve paying ESU costs and the last involves using WVD in Azure. Most Windows 7–compatible desktop applications will be compatible with Windows 10 straight out of the box but if you do have troublesome applications you can leverage the Microsoft App Assure service, which is free. 

What does the end of 2008 and 2008 R2 mean?

Windows Server 2008 Logo

14 January also sees the demise of Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 that were both great server operating systems (for their time.)  It’s easy to forget, but Server 2008 – codenamed Longhorn –  brought in some truly ground-breaking features such as server core, failover clustering, Hyper-V and self-healing NTFS (a huge improvement on the tense moments of waiting for a 2003 server to restart after corruption.)  

Many of these technologies still exist today, albeit very much improved from their Server 2008 beginnings. Alas though, this operating system is also being put out to pasture (I like to think of it as spending its days on a beach in the sun sipping pina coladas, knowing that its children and grandchildren are carrying on its work). 

So what does the end of 2008 and 2008 R2 mean? Well, like Windows 7, it means not receiving any security updates and patches, which can have even worse results here than for your desktops. Ransomware… encrypted file server… no access to data  you get the idea. 

So, what are your options?

Upgrade to a newer operating system like Server 2019

Pay for Extended Security Updates (ESU)

These work in the same way as with Windows 7, and in the same way, aren’t cheap.

Relocate your on-premise servers to Azure

And enjoy years Extended Security Updates for free. 

The difficulty of upgrading to a newer OS can obviously vary by the applications you are running on themYou could keep it simple and opt to pay for an ESU which will cover you to 1-3 years. The curve ball option is to migrate your 2008 server to Azure and run it supported with a free ESU for up to 3 years. This final option gives you plenty of time to transform your application to a newer operating system and also leverage the benefits of Azure. 

What about Exchange 2010?

Microsoft Exchange 2010 Logo

The other well-loved product that is going the way of the dinosaurs is Exchange 2010. Exchange 2010 has been a familiar mail product for many years. It was the first version of Exchange that brought Database Availability Groups and database level failover. It brought a great level of stability to managing your email environment. It was a good product, and it comes with good news. The deadline for Exchange 2010 has been extended until 13 October 2020.  This gives you a little more time to consider your options. 

So, what are your options with Exchange 2010? 

Upgrade to a newer version of Exchange like Exchange Server 2019

Migrate to Exchange Online

Relocate your on-premise servers to Azure

And enjoy 3 years Extended Security Updates for free.

It’s great that Microsoft have given us more time, but the months fly by quickly so it’s best to decide on your strategy and get started sooner not later.  You can always enlist in the help of Fast Track or a good partner to assist with your mailbox migration. 

Time to consider your options

To summarisethe Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 end of support is the most critical issue to address. However, closely on its heels is Exchange 2010 that ends support in October. Consider the options outlined above and decide what is going to work best for your organisation. If you need any assistance with your planning or migration away from these legacy products reach out to us at SBL, the team would be happy to help. 

Contact us to discuss your options

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