If you knew you were going to have a migraine headache next Tuesday, what would you do? Maybe you’d head to the pharmacy to stock up on medication. Maybe you’d move a couple of difficult meetings off your calendar for that day. There’s a type of headache that you can plan for. The headache of obsolete software.
Why Do I Need to Update Software?
All software needs to be updated periodically to fix bugs and vulnerabilities discovered over time. Established software companies often keep staff dedicated to fixing issues even after they stop selling that version of the program. It’s a big investment for these companies, but they do it to keep good faith with their customers. They are predicting that happy customers will eventually buy the latest version of their products.
The Risks of Delayed Updates
When support for an older program ultimately ends, no new patches are written to close security holes, and no new fixes are created for bugs or errors. Many companies in the business computing space will publish “End of Life” notices online. Helpful, but with all the different titles, versions, and developers involved it can be easy to miss important notices. You might find yourself stopped in your tracks because something has broken that no one is planning to fix.
An ability to forecast change is key to success. You can better prepare if you know that you will need to upgrade the computers for your business in advance. Plan for disruptions in your operations and address the costs in a systematic way because preparing for a headache can make life easier.
We’ve collected some major end of life updates that you should have on your radar.
Operating Systems: End Of Life Dates
Microsoft: Windows 7
Windows desktop, It’s a core component of business technology. From creating and printing documents to responding to emails and accessing the internet, chances are you depend on Windows every day. It’s no wonder it’s an attractive target for bad actors and a seemingly endless well for mysterious error messages. If you are still using Windows 7, you need to be aware that Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support after January 14, 2020. If you’re one of the 27% of Windows users still using Windows 7, you need to upgrade to Windows 10 now.
Microsoft: Windows 10
Just because you made the switch to Windows 10 doesn’t mean that you can take Windows end of life off your radar. With Windows 10, the versions released in 2017 will be reaching end of life in the next few months. If you’re not sure which version of Windows 10 you are running, Microsoft has provided instructions here to locate the information: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13443/windows-which-version-am-i-running
Microsoft: Windows Server
If your Windows Server has reached its end of life date your business could be at serious risk. Whether you are running Active Directory or backing up company data, you have a serious problem screaming for immediate resolution. Run, don’t walk to get this updated.
Apple: Mac OS & Hardware
Apple is famously tight lipped about end of life support for their products. They generally work on a three year rolling schedule for their operating systems. With each new major OS release, there will be no further upgrades to the prior operating systems. Apple only releases security updates for the current and two prior operating systems. Luckily upgrading to the latest OS is usually free, but can become a problem if your hardware no longer supports the latest OS.
If you own an older Mac, you will eventually hit an update wall, because unlike Windows based PCs, Mac hardware reaches an end of life date as well. When Mac hardware reaches a certain point, it will no longer allow upgrades to the newest operating system versions. When hardware end of life happens, the only choice is to buy a new computer, so start saving those pennies! The following link shows which Mac hardware is still supported or not. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201624
Software: When do I Need to Update?
Microsoft Office and productivity have been tied together for decades. Using out of date software can become a hassle that robs you and your team of of valuable time. New functionality is rolled out with each version to help workers stay up to date. Microsoft also constantly releases updates to ensure Office can communicate with other third party software seamlessly. The money you are trying to save is lost when staff wastes time trying to make older versions work. There are free alternatives to Office such as Google Docs and Open Office but most come with their own challenges. Anyone used to working in Excel does not want to learn a whole new workflow for minimal savings. Update as needed and don’t look back.
Intuit has a 3-year life-cycle for its software. Each year as the latest version of QuickBooks is released, the one released 3 years previously is dropped and no longer supported. The tax laws and accounting practices are constantly updated. Whether we like the practice or not, we are asked to pay for these latest versions to cover their update costs.
Web applications: End of Life and Security Importance
Due to rampant security holes and excessive use of mobile device battery life, Adobe Flash’s long and storied career is coming to an end December 31st 2020. What was once the height of sophisticated web design is now being retired to the tech museum hall of fame. It is being replaced with HTML5, a lean mean streaming machine.
For industries requiring heightened security, Flash should already be gone from every computer in your office. If your website offers Flash based material, work with your developer to convert to HTML5 as soon as possible. User experience will improve and your site will be more accessible to new users who don’t have flash installed. Win win!
Websites: Content Management Systems and the Hidden Cost
Magento: E-Commerce Platform
You have an e-commerce website built with Magento. It works fine, looks great and has been making you money for years! So… why change now? The ugly answer is you may not have a choice once the end of life date, June 2020, arrives. Magento will stop all support for 1.x as the latest version of PHP will only work on Magento 2.0.
“Yes, but can I still use Magento 1.9 if I want to?” You can try to maintain a web server with a stack that supports older PHP/SQL, but this will be problematic to say the least. If you are like most people, you are using a hosted server. It would be shocking for a provider to offer unsecured and unpatched servers. Your site will start to age and break because installed modules can’t be updated, and new modules will be unsupported. More importantly though, why would you want exploitable security holes on your site? You worked so hard to build a user base that buys from your site. Why ruin your reputation and customer loyalty by allowing them to become targets when they purchase from you?
Reach out to your developer and discuss your site migration as soon as able, because like all things in life, waiting until the last minute can get expensive. Developers schedules fill up with last minute migrations and their fees will rise accordingly.
For more information on how Amicus MSP can help your business, click here.