After the performance and stability issues that came with Windows Vista, Windows 7 was officially released by Microsoft on October 22, 2009 . With Windows 7, users had regained confidence in the operating system, and as a stable successor to Windows XP, it was also frequently used in industrial environments, e.g. in production and manufacturing plants.
After more than 10 years, Microsoft will finally discontinue technical support on January 14, 2020 and the provision of updates on January 14, 2020. As a matter of principle, Microsoft advises against continuing to use this version after January 15, 2020 and recommends an upgrade to Windows 10. Even in relatively simple and homogeneous office environments, this changeover can take many months and is associated with an extreme amount of work for IT departments, as problems such as compatibility with legacy software, obsolete hardware or peripherals that are no longer supported must be solved in the same breath. However, since the end of support has been known for a long time, many companies in this area have been preparing for this for a long time and the transition has already been completed or is still in progress.
In production plants, OT equipment is often an essential part of the machines and cannot simply be updated or replaced without an expensive and downtime-intensive upgrade by the manufacturer – if this is possible at all. Those who do not convert and deliberately use an outdated operating system version expose themselves to many risks, as we saw last year, for example, through the weaknesses of Bluekeep and DeJaBlue. A workaround offered by Microsoft to at least obtain patches for security-related problems are the ESU (Extended Security Updates) offered since April 1, 2019. The prices for these updates must be negotiated individually with Microsoft via technology partners and are an interim solution, which will be offered until 2023 at costs between 50 – 200 USD per device.
If you are considering continuing to use Windows 7 without an ESU, Microsoft will provide a full-screen warning of the end of Windows 7 support as of January 15, 2020, for all non-Enterprise and Server editions of Windows 7, licenses that are not from a volume licensing program, and devices that are not associated with a domain. The notification is provided by the program “%windir%\system32\EOSNotify.exe”, which is installed together with the patches KB4493132or KB4524752 and the monthly rollup KB4530734. According to Microsoft, the user receives a warning “Once a month at most”. Microsoft strongly advises against uninstalling these patches but provides the option to suppress this message permanently via the DWORD value “DiscontinueEOS” with value 1 in the registry key “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\EOSNotify”.
In addition to the described Windows 7, the products Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2 and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) version 3.0 are also affected by the end of support.
In summary, it can be said that there is an urgent need for action regarding the discontinued products, which should be considered in the short term.If you have any questions regarding your production environment, please feel free to contact us. Over the years we have gained experience in dealing with discontinued operating systems and will be happy to support you in finding and implementing a solution strategy.
Would you like to learn more? Do not hesitate to contact us, we will be happy to help you.
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