As Microsoft looks ahead to Jan. 14, 2020 — when the long-awaited Windows 10 update eclipses the current Windows 7 — a company in upstate New York is drumming up awareness on how crucial it is to update operating systems.
ICS is a “managed service provider” based in Ithaca providing IT and telecommunication services for local clients. They’re hoping to send a message to all Windows users: keep up with the transition, appropriately termed “The End of Windows 7.”
After Jan. 14, Windows will stop releasing software bandaids and updates on the old software. Updating to Windows 10 will be crucial for Windows users. Without updating, their computers will be vulnerable to bugs and other problems.
“[Microsoft] has a team of programmers that are constantly writing new codes to secure the operating system for many vulnerabilities that come out,” Kevin Blake, ICS President, stated in a phone interview with The Sun. “When Microsoft sets these ‘end of life’ dates, they will stop writing those fixes.” Essentially, computers that remain on Windows & will be more susceptible to cyber hacking and malware.
Though Cornell has deal partnerships with both Mac and Dell (which runs Windows), a recent survey by market research firm Vanson Bourne showed that over 70% of students prefer Mac to Windows. Both types are available for loan in Cornell libraries.
Taylor Pero, ICS Marketing & Public Relations Director, told The Sun in a message that “users will have to be vigilant about security issues and bugs until they adopt a new operating system.”
Many smaller businesses outsource their IT support, and ICS is one of many companies providing that service, according to Blake. The company handles all of the technology for its clients — small- and medium-sized businesses throughout northern Pennsylvania and central New York.
Microsoft, which makes the Windows operating system for desktop and laptop computers, has evolved its operating system through the years — Windows 3.1, Windows 2000, Windows XP — and sets “end of life” dates years in advance.
When he was a student, Blake said that he personally used technology until it “absolutely didn’t work” — a practice that isn’t as safe anymore with the increased risk of cyber-attacks.
“Students are very vulnerable,” Blake said. “If some virus or ransomware were able to attack your OS and crash your computer, you may lose what you were working on.”
According to Blake, students should be aware of this transition and take the necessary steps to replace or upgrade their laptops.
“Most cyber-attacks happen via an unpatched server or workstation,” Blake said. “It is important to keep up to date on supported operating systems.”
Although Cornell University does not directly outsource IT services from ICS, the company does conduct business with many Ithaca companies that work with the University.
“Microsoft has done a huge amount of PR and marketing around informing their customers that Windows 7 is ending,” Blake said. “It is important for us to drive it home, and to help the college or the businesses budget, plan and make this happen by the deadline.”