Peter von Oven – Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Back at the beginning of this year, I posted a blog entitled Microsoft Windows 7 end of life 14th Jan 2020 – R.I.P, discussing the end of life of the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.  Six months later, I thought I would revisit the subject and look at what impact the end of life of Windows 7 has had, and what customers are doing. Have they migrated? Are they still running Windows 7, or have they done something entirely different?

My next step was to do a little research and see what the numbers say. How much Windows 7 is still out there versus Windows 10? According to https://www.netmarketshare.com and using their interactive Operating System Share by Version graph, I was surprised – or was I really? – to learn that Windows 7 still accounts for 28% market share, with Windows 10 having nearly 54% market share. Windows XP still features, but now at only 1.49%,  as you can see from the graph:

Perhaps you would also expect to see a downward trend for Windows 7 market share as time goes on, but it seems to have somewhat plateaued. So, why is this?  Why has it not taken a sharper downward turn the further from the end of life date we get?

In my opinion, and experience from working with customers on a daily basis, it’s because most migration projects have gotten to the point where everything that can be migrated to Windows 10 has been completed, and the Windows 7 left out there is because the apps need that operating system in order to run. In most cases these apps will be business-critical and if they do not run on Windows 10 then customers have no option other than to stick with Windows 7.

This has been further compounded by recent announcements from Microsoft stating:

“Beginning with Windows 10, version 2004, all new Windows 10 systems will be required to use 64-bit builds and Microsoft will no longer release 32-bit builds for OEM distribution.”

The Windows 10, 2004 version, in case you had not already spotted that update message, shipped from May 2020.

So, if you still have 32-bit apps then you might not want to press that upgrade button just yet!

The cost of staying with Windows 7

There are, of course, implications to sticking with Windows 7 given that it went end of life earlier this year. The key concern is the lack of support, but Microsoft will quite happily sell you ESU (Extended Security Updates).

With ESU you can purchase extended support, but it will cost you, and each year you do not make the move, it will cost you even more.  For example, for Windows 7 Enterprise, to continue with support will cost you $25 dollars per device, rising to $50 per device in 2021, and $100 in 2022. After that, there is no pricing available.

Let me put that into perspective –  if you stay with Windows 7 Enterprise for 3 years, as that might be how long it takes to rewrite your apps, then that is a total of $175 per device. If you have 1,000 devices, then that is $175,000.

If you run Windows 7 Professional, the costs are double that of Enterprise edition. That would mean $350,000 in extended support costs for your 1,000 users.

The other option is to migrate to Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), as Microsoft will continue to support Windows 7 within that environment. But that does not come cheap either. I did a quick calculation with the Microsoft Azure online pricing calculator for 1,000 users using WVD. This was based on a standard office type user who works 8 hours per day, 5 days per week.

The output of the pricing calculator is shown below:

The cost of that is $36,500 per month!  Over our 3-year example, that works out at a touch over $1.3M.

If you opted for the multi-session solution then, first of all, there is an upfront cost of $313,000, which is then followed by $11,000 per month. Taking the 3-year example again, the cost over 3 years works out at $709,000. As I said, it is not exactly cheap!

You could of course just bury your head in the sand, keep your fingers crossed, and hope nothing happens. Probably not a wise decision given we have already said that the reason for Windows 7 remaining is to run business-critical apps!

Migrate to Windows 10 is the answer then?

Is the answer that you should migrate to Windows 10 then? Well yes, but it is not that simple. Yes, you will be running the latest version of the operating system, which is supported, patched, and secure; however what happens when you come to install your apps? Maybe the following:

The app may not install or run, meaning regardless of having an up-to-date operating system, it is pretty pointless, as nobody can run their apps and therefore cannot work.

But to remain compliant you really do need to upgrade the operating system and find a way to enable your apps to run.

Containerize and secure

Thankfully, Droplet Computing has the answer! You can migrate to Windows 10, take your apps with you, as is, and not have to pay those huge extended support costs.

How does this work?  Droplet Computing delivers a secure, isolated, portable container that can run on Windows 10 machines (also runs on macOS, Chrome OS, and Linux) into which you install your 32-bit apps and the like.

They run in the same way as they do today but are now locked away in a container that just uses the CPU and memory resources of the host machine. As previously mentioned, what that host machine is, Droplet Computing does not care. Once the apps are containerized, they are completely portable, across platform, or if you upgrade to a new Windows 10 version.

But how much is the cost of containerization with Droplet Computing I hear you ask?  Looking at today’s exchange rate and given the Microsoft costs are in USD and we work in GBP, then you would look to save around 20 to 30% compared to if you opted for the extended support option. I could work out the same for the WVD option, but I don’t have enough zeros on my calculator!

If you have business-critical applications that need to continue to run on Windows 7 OS, please contact sales@dropletcomputing.com to arrange a demonstration of our unique container technology that is enabling Windows 7 to live on in the Enterprise!