The end of free security updates and extended support for Windows 7

Yesterday marked the end of free security updates and extended support for Windows 7 – a system that is in widespread use across the UK’s public sector today. Matt Smith, director, public sector, UK & Ireland, Citrix, commented on what this means.

“Tue​sday 14 January 2020 marks the end of free security updates and extended support for Windows 7. While Microsoft encouraged those still using the legacy operating system to shift to Windows 10 before the deadline to avoid finding the service or support they require is no longer available, the reality is that Windows 7 is still in widespread use in the UK today – particularly within the public sector. In fact, our recent Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that hundreds of thousands of devices managed by NHS Trusts still operate on the ten year old Windows 7 system.

“Fortunately, the availability of E5 subscriptions provides organisations with extended security updates for Windows 7 for one more year – allowing more time for those still in the process of transitioning all devices to Windows 10. Encouragingly, our FoI data found that 78% of NHS Trusts plan to migrate to Windows 10 within the next six months.

“The NHS is unquestionably dedicated to delivering first-class patient services, and recognises the role technology will play as it aims to deliver more with less. Having up-to-date and agile technology can drive productivity and overall workplace satisfaction by lightening workloads and boosting employee engagement. In a vital organisation like the NHS, technology which supports the productivity potential of its workforce can also lead to better patient service by enabling NHS staff to work more effectively and help more citizens.

“Yet given the additional security considerations that come with outdated technology, many NHS Trusts – and other organisations relying on E5 subscriptions after the Windows 7 end of life deadline – will need to accelerate their Windows 10 migration this year to ensure IT infrastructure is up-to-date and secure before the extended security updates time out. This up-to-date and secure IT infrastructure is necessary to both better support NHS staff in their day-to-day jobs and ensure first-class healthcare services in the UK.”

December 2019 FoI – data overview:

Citrix issued a Freedom of Information request in October 2019 to 98 NHS Trusts across the UK, with 77 of them responding. This FoI revealed that:

  • Over half (52%) of the total 447,000+ laptops, computers, tablets, and even smartphones managed by responding NHS Trusts still operate on the ten year old Windows 7 system
  • 78% of NHS Trusts plan to migrate to Windows 10 within the next six months – with a further 6% considering it
  • While many devices managed by NHS Trusts have now been migrated to Windows 10, one in five (23%) responding NHS Trusts confirmed that 10+ applications still need remediation to ensure stability and ease of use within Windows 10 – based on the results of their application compatibility tool kit for Windows 10
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of NHS Trusts have deployed, or are considering deployment of, cloud or virtualisation technology to help migrate from Windows 7
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