Change is difficult, but sometimes even more difficult than knowing when to make a change is knowing what to make the change to. This is particularly true with business software. Many of our clients have come to us with questions about Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system. “Should my business upgrade?” they ask. “I have Windows 10 at home, but in the office we have Windows 7. A lot of my employees seem hesitant at making the switch.”
This hesitation is pretty common, and not something Microsoft fully anticipated when they rolled out Windows 10. With Windows 8 and 8.1 being seen by many as works in progress, most people never made the switch from Windows 7, which even as of last month — 9 years after it was released — still all but dominates the field with a 38.9% market share. It’s stable, employees love it, and they’re used to it. So understandably, companies are uncertain to force an upgrade on them — a move that did not go over well when Microsoft did it to consumers.
The issue is… Microsoft 7 has officially been given an end-of-life. On January 10, 2020 it will discontinue support, meaning you will no longer receive security updates. Without these patches, companies remaining on Windows 7 will be more vulnerable to hackers than ever before. While this might be frustrating, it’s normal in the technology world. “Every Windows product has a lifecycle,” says Microsoft. “The lifecycle begins when a product is released and ends when it’s no longer supported. Knowing key dates in this lifecycle helps you make informed decisions about when to update, upgrade or make other changes to your software.”
With support dwindling for Windows 7, that means more development is being put into Windows 10. As a result, Microsoft has developed new and advanced security features for businesses at the Pro and Enterprise levels. These robust features are increasingly necessary in an era of evolving cyber-threats, and with Windows 10 offering companies a level of protection far beyond what its predecessors are capable of. A few of our personal favorites include:
- Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection with automated investigation and remediation, and endpoint detection and response (Enterprise only).
- Full disk encryption with Microsoft BitLocker, protecting your sensitive data in the event one of your company’s devices are lost or stolen.
- Data leak prevention.
- Identity and access management.
- Multi-factor authentication.
- Credential protection with Windows Defender Credential Guard (Enterprise version only).
- Device Guard and AppLocker (Enterprise version only).
- Security management and analytics, providing tools that allow you to better evaluate and beef up your organization’s security posture.
While Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise are virtually the same in many ways, including visually, you can see just from the brief list above that there are several advanced features that are Enterprise only.
Considering that these features cost more, and might require a volume-licensing agreement depending on your circumstances, you might wonder whether it might make more sense to give Windows 10 Home edition a try instead. Truthfully, it’s probably not in your best interests. Pro and Enterprise — which comes in two tiers, E3 and E5 — were designed with advanced security features that the average consumer doesn’t need, but the average business does. In fact, just a cursory glance and a Windows 10 comparison chart shows that the Home Edition barely clocks in with half as many security features (17) as the lowest tier of Enterprise (32), which itself has half the features that the highest tier of Enterprise has (68). Yep, we counted so that you didn’t have to.
Just like staying with Windows 7 opens you up to vulnerabilities down the line, so will going with an operating system not built for a business environment. Let’s face it, we’ve all heard quotes about the folly of doing things halfway. As one famous philosopher mused a long, long time ago, “Do or do not. There is no try.” One could make a solid argument that the same applies to technology: when it comes to upgrading, it doesn’t makes sense to go halfway. Your hackers certainly won’t. Neither will your competition.
When we work with our clients, we want to empower their excellence designing and delivering solutions unique to their needs. But one thing we’ve found that isn’t unique is a drive for growth, and a need to stay on the frontlines of technology. Considering that that’s where business is taking place these days, that makes sense. Often, this means upgrading their PC’s to keep them in line with the operating system they’re implementing, and how to maintain compatibility with their existing external devices and business applications. If you’re thinking of upgrading to Windows 10, we’re here to help with that too.
Call JNT TEK today for advice on how to how else you can boost security and maximize productivity.