Microsoft to discontinue free support for the popular OS, forcing upgrades to Windows 10
The days of free support for Windows 7, one of the most popular commercial and consumer operating systems in the world, will end in January 2020. Businesses will have the option of buying extended support contracts or upgrading to Windows 10. And the upgrading could spark a boom in PC sales in 2019.
The Lowdown: Microsoft announced that its free support and packing for Windows 7 will stop Jan. 14, 2020, ending five years of free maintenance and patching. Microsoft will offer business users Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESUs) on a per-user basis, with the price increasing annually until the operating system reaches its end of life. Microsoft Windows Virtual Desktop service customers will receive the ESU at no additional cost.
The Details: In addition, Microsoft will stop providing support for Office 365 ProPlus running on Windows 7. Businesses can buy the ESU for the productivity package for an additional three years. Other products scheduled to have their free support end in 2020 include Exchange Server 2010, Windows Server 2008/R2, and Windows 7 for Embedded Systems.
The Impact: Windows 10, the current Microsoft operating system, recently surpassed Windows 7 among desktop and notebook operating systems. Windows 10 has a 39 percent market share, while Windows 7 has 37 percent. In real numbers, this means more than 700 million personal computers running Windows 7 around the world need either ESUs or upgrades to Windows 10.
Background: Microsoft made no secret of its plans to discontinue free patching and support for Windows 7. Demand for new PCs running Windows 10 increased in the second half of 2018. Unfortunately, a shortage of Intel Xeon and Core processors caused inventory shortfalls that blunted PC sales. Analysts anticipate those sales will rebound in 2019 as more businesses choose to refresh their PC fleets concurrent with an upgrade to Windows 10.
Channelnomics Point of View: PC sales have steadily declined over the past seven years, mostly due to consumers switching their primary computing device to tablets and smartphones that run non-Windows operating systems. PC sales peaked in 2011 with more than 365 million units shipping. In 2018, PC shipments tallied just 254 million. The end of support for Windows 7 could prompt more businesses to refresh their PC fleets, opening tremendous opportunities for vendors and partners to cross-sell and upsell complementary products as well as managed and cloud services. The wild card in the equation is Intel, which is trying to ramp up processor production to meet demand.