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More Than 100 Million PCs Are Still Running Windows 7: Here’s Why You Should Upgrade Immediately
When Microsoft® launched Windows® 7 in October 2009, the world was waiting for it, and Microsoft sold over 240 million Windows 7 licenses in the first year alone. Over the next few years, Windows 7 steadily took over as Windows Vista and Windows XP faded away. Stop-gap replacements including Windows 8 and 8.1 never gained much traction and Windows 7 remained the operating systems of choice across home, business, and enterprise desktops and laptops until the advent of Windows 10 in 2015.
Millions of PCs left behind
Given the broad popularity and long-run of Windows 7, it’s not surprising that it took over three years for Windows 10 to take over as the world’s most popular PC OS, a milestone it achieved at the end of 2018. Still, as the graph from Stat Counter Global Stats below illustrates, Windows 7 has continued to hang on to a considerable amount of market share, even while Microsoft still offers free Windows 10 upgrades for many users. Although the exact number is hard to pin down, it’s estimated that at least 100 million PCs are still running Windows 7.
This chart shows desktop Windows version market share worldwide from 2009 through January of 2021. While Windows 10 now dominates, Windows 7 still retains about 17% market share, which represents at least 100 million PCs.
Windows 7 security updates cost more every year
If you or your organization are among the 100 million plus Windows 7 holdouts, it’s beyond time to get serious about an exit strategy. Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 7 over a year ago, and the annual cost of Extended Security Updates (ESU) has now doubled to $100 per device for Windows Pro and will double again to $200 per device in 2022.
In other words, what you used to get for free — and still can, if you upgrade to Windows 10 — is putting an increasingly bigger, value-free hole in your IT budget. For larger organizations, the cost can add up in a hurry. For example, the German government faced a bill of $887,000 for failing to upgrade over 33,000 Windows 7 PCs before the end-of-support date.
The risk of waiting to upgrade could cost even more
Increased security risk — Even with the security updates your organization receives through ESU, Windows 7 is less secure than Windows 10, and there is a good chance that third-party apps aren’t universally updated to work with Windows 7. Moreover, hackers almost always go for older software in search of back doors into organizations. If you think the security threat is hypothetical, hackers recently gained access to a Florida water plant by targeting Windows 7 PCs. There will be plenty more such exploits to come.
Competitive disadvantage — Microsoft stopped development on Windows 7 many years ago. While some older apps might run better on Windows 7, newer software may not run at all on it. You may also be missing out on the best experience the app can offer, which is only available when using Windows 10. Overlooking new features and capabilities puts you one more step behind the competition.
Decreased productivity — Employees who sit around waiting for a PC to start up or complete tasks are unproductive. Windows 10, combined with modern hardware, offers an exponential improvement in startup times and boosts productivity throughout the day. Employees are also happier and more satisfied with a smooth, fast, secure, and enjoyable computing experience.
Painless migrations now on tap
Chances are that any Windows 7 PCs you’re still using will have accumulated plenty of files, settings, and applications that will need to be moved over to a new Windows 10 PC. This can be a time-consuming task. When performed manually, it requires handholding from IT and leads to lost employee productivity for every update. The only automated migration solution recommended by Microsoft is PCmover® from Laplink®. The other options Microsoft recommends involve moving files to OneDrive or to a USB/external drive, solutions that can easily take a couple of days and still miss data — and at extra cost for sufficient cloud storage or a storage device.
Fast, affordable migrations with PCmover
In contrast, PCmover Express not only makes the migration process fast and easy, but it’s also completely free for personal use if you only want to move files, settings, and user profiles to a new Windows 10 device. If you want to move everything including applications, you can upgrade to PCmover Professional. For large organizations with hundreds or thousands of PCs to upgrade, or simply to streamline the PC refresh cycle, there’s PCmover Enterprise, which offers zero-touch and automated remote migrations.
With cost-effective, automated tools like PCmover Express, PCmover Professional, and PCmover Enterprise at your disposal, there has never been a better time to put Windows 7 permanently in the rearview mirror. You’ll eliminate the expense of extended security updates, improve your overall security profile, and boost user productivity and satisfaction.
Briana is a lifelong storyteller passionate about authentic, inclusive content. As digital content and communications manager for Laplink, she fosters the human connection in tech through virtual content. Briana’s previous credits include content strategy and creation for Microsoft, Puget Sound Energy, Alaska Airlines, and other household brands. In her free time, she enjoys music, movies, and the performing arts.