IDC Editorial: Planning for the Windows 7 EOL

Nobody wants to be that person: The one who, during a generally positive IT staff meeting, feels the need to point out that the end-of-life for Windows is coming down the pike. Well, I'm going to be that person.

Once, January 14th, 2020 was indeed a long way off, but that's no longer the case. In fact, as I write this post, it is less than 18 months away. So, if your organization has only done preliminary planning around this major transition or has largely kicked the can down the road throughout 2018, it's time to get serious.

New Hardware Enables Win10's Best Features

One of the key questions firms of all sizes are facing when it comes to the transition from Windows* 7 to Windows 10 is whether they should do an in-place upgrade of the operating system. It's a tempting solution, and in some cases, it might make sense. For example, if you've been rolling out brand new hardware for the last 18 months, but rolling it back to Windows 7, then an upgrade in place on those machines likely makes sense. But If you're entertaining the idea of doing the same with systems that are two, three, or four years old (or older), you're doing a disservice to your employee customers.

While it’s true that many workers may not need dramatically more raw performance than they are getting from their older hardware, that's only part of the reason to consider new devices. Perhaps more important is the fact that today's personal computers powered by the latest Intel® processors offer access to a list of Windows 10 features you can't enable on old hardware. From faster boot times to more efficient log ins and improved power management, today's hardware has evolved dramatically from the systems shipping just a few years ago.

Beyond the internal improvements, today's hardware offers something else important: A wider range of form factors than ever before. Today's traditional desktop comes in increasingly desk-friendly sizes, and traditional clamshell notebooks are thinner, lighter, and more attractive than ever before. In addition, evolutionary form factors, such as convertible notebooks and detachable tablets, have gone from niche products to full-fledged product categories designed to fit the needs of highly mobile workers. Plus, more of today's products also offer innovative new interface modes, too, including touch screens, pen support, and far-field mikes for voice. Bottom line: Today's newest hardware with Windows 10 offers employees the ability to get work done when and where they want.

Today's Devices Drive More than Just Productivity

Finally, it's important to note that today's evolving workforce has very different expectations from a work-provided device. Long gone are the days when IT could get by with offering one or two different devices, with employees forced to take what was offered. With labor tight and millennials encompassing a growing percentage of the workforce, it is increasingly incumbent upon IT to help "seal the deal" when it comes to talent acquisition. One of the ways to do this is to offer new employees access to the latest and greatest hardware. In many cases, it could be the difference between success and failure in the talent acquisition game.

Major transitions such as this are never easy, and it can be tough to know where to start. We've put together a few additional documents to help you get things moving in the right direction. They include an Analyst Connection that examines some of the key questions you need to answer as you continue this journey; an IDC White Paper that talks about empowering your workforce with new hardware when migrating to Windows 10. And, finally, there's an IDC video, featuring yours truly, that calls out some of the key reasons why you should consider new hardware for this transition.

So, as I noted early on, the clock is ticking. It's time to get serious about moving your company from Windows 7 to Windows 10, so that the next time "that person" brings it up, you'll have a plan already in motion.

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Tom Mainelli

About Tom Mainelli

Tom Mainelli manages IDC's Devices group, which covers a broad range of hardware categories including PCs, tablets, smartphones, wearables, AR/VR, thin clients, and displays. In his role as program vice president, he works closely with company representatives, industry contacts, and other IDC analysts to provide in-depth insight and analysis on the always-evolving market of endpoint devices and their related services. In addition to overseeing the collection of historical shipment data and the forecasting of shipment trends in cooperation with IDC's Tracker organization, he also heads up numerous primary research initiatives at IDC including frequent consumer- and commercial-focused surveys. A frequent public speaker, he travels often and enjoys the opportunity to work with colleagues and clients all over the world.