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ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE END OF WINDOWS 7 AS WE KNOW IT?

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE END OF WINDOWS 7 AS WE KNOW IT?

Living in a technology era that sees device upgrades and new products on what seems like an almost weekly basis, it’s difficult to imagine that Windows 7 has remained in play since its release in 2009.

According to Net Market Share’s December 2018 data, 40.86 percent were still using Windows 7 compared to a modest 36.37 percent engaged in Windows 10. Trailing the two leaders, Windows 8.1 saw a mere 5.07 percent and Windows XP stood at 4.08 percent. That means Windows 7 ranked as the most popular platform after a decade on the market.

However, the days of Windows 7 are numbered. Starting on January 14, 2020, extended support for this industry favorite will cease.

The Windows 7 end of life (EOL) is not a surprise for IT companies because Microsoft already cut off mainstream support four years ago. The imminent Windows 7 EOL leaves small and mid-sized companies weighing their options about best next steps. Fortunately, the IT professionals at {company} are prepared to upgrade small and mid-sized businesses using Windows 7 to a suitable option.

Are You Prepared To Upgrade Before Windows 7 EOL?

While the EOL deadline may seem miles away when considering urgent day-to-day business operations, conducting a critical systems analysis and reviewing next steps options is something that decision-makers would be wise to implement post haste.

Upgrading a company’s operating system is no small undertaking. The process could take a top-flight IT support team upwards of six months to develop a comprehensive strategy to test, implement and fully deploy the new system. That timeline hinges on prior decisions being made and only reasonably anticipated setbacks. Anyone who runs a business understands that x-factors can cause unexpected and costly delays.

CEOs and decision-makers who fail to make the shift before the Windows 7 EOL date risk losing security features currently protecting systems and data. We live in a world where hackers are persistent in their efforts to find vulnerable business systems that they can pluck like low-hanging fruit.

It’s not difficult to recognize that hackers are fully aware of potential vulnerabilities when the Windows 7 sunsets. They will be up all night identifying and breaching systems with faulty security. Think of the Windows EOL date like a massive power blackout and hackers are like looters taking advantage of the crisis to break into your business and steal. The best way to avoid disruption and cyber theft is to take proactive measures now.

Positives About Upgrading From Windows 7

For all practical purposes, users are being forced to migrate from Windows 7 to another product. The mainstream support ended in January 2015 and extended support included some minor reductions in support. While it’s true that you can still use Windows 7 and it will function with Internet Explorer and other tools, after the 2020 EOL date, security risks will likely escalate without ongoing support. While business leaders often operate under the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” theory, Microsoft reportedly recommending that Windows 7 users upgrade to Windows 10 is not necessarily a bad thing for small and mid-sized companies. These are key reasons why change can prove beneficial.

  • Improved Consistency: In the past, it wasn’t uncommon for operating systems to require major changes every three to five years. That type of stress is expected to dissipate once users conclude their migration from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or another appropriate option.
  • Ongoing Upgrades: Although Microsoft has offered differing degrees of Windows 7 support for 10 years, organizations that migrate to Windows 10 can anticipate a wealth of helpful upgrades. These upgrades started in 2018 and their lifecycles will reportedly last upwards of 24 months in terms of deploying and validating the newest version. Upgrades that were previously released about every six months. However, organizations may want to task their IT support team with monitoring emerging upgrades.

Your outfit will enjoy the most up to date functionality, productivity, user interface, and outstanding security measures. Upgrades have the potential to interact with important analytics, machine learning, and other emerging technological advancements.

At {company}, our team of IT professionals understands the inherent benefits that migration to Windows 10 and other options can bring to the table. Migrating to Windows 10 or a suitable option is not a nuisance; it’s a business opportunity.

Windows 7 EOL Presents An Opportunity To Develop A Uniform Process

Consider for a moment that your organization has developed protocols and processes that help it maximize productivity and profitability. Those might include anything from a manufacturing assembly line to information sharing to HR policies. Just about everything a successful outfit does helps improve its standing and bottom line. That being said, systems upgrades are no different and the Windows 7 EOL has presented an opportunity to create uniform policies and protocol.

By working with an IT support consultant, your organization can lean on the experience of a team that upgrades and migrates business systems on a regular basis. You also gain the benefit of working with team members that have an expansive knowledge about goals within your industry and others. That information can prove valuable when applied to your niche.

Conducting a full review and documenting real-time process leaves your organization with a blueprint for future upgrades. Windows 7 is effectively going the way of the dinosaur and its replacement will likely go extinct as well. It’s important to seize this opportunity to reduce the six-month or longer process the next time. These are other benefits your organization can gain by creating a uniform upgrade process in 2019.

  • Rethinking Windows: It’s all too clear that Windows upgrades are already being planned. Rather than wait and react every time an announcement is made, you can rethink Windows as ongoing service and not just a product. This means empowering your IT support team to maintain a focus on rollouts, tool management and deployment in a highly streamlined fashion. Having that blueprint means formerly onerous tasks occur seamlessly.
  • IT Support Agility: A major migration from Windows 7 is likely to be a time-consuming task. Part of the reason is that your outfit is starting from scratch and learning about unique aspects of your system, goals and workforce needs. Creating a blueprint for future upgrades eliminates that start from scratch mentality and allows IT support technicians the flexibility to act decisively.
  • Ongoing Testing: Once your IT team has concluded its testing measures for the Windows 7 EOL migration, it’s important to craft a post-mortem account of challenges and solutions. This will help inform team members about what to anticipate and improve their ability to adapt and overcome.

One of the expected benefits of moving to Windows 10 is that the product allows IT technicians to implement updates to a variety of devices simultaneously. This is expected to improve efficiency by limiting the time spent on tasks that are not directly related to your business’ profit-earning activities.

Other Windows 7 EOL Options

There’s a good reason that such a low percentage of users work with Windows 8. It was widely considered a disaster. According to The Inquirer, “Users and administrators adamantly demanded to step back to Windows 7 desktops. Not only was the new user interface of Windows 8 unwelcoming, but the removal of simple features such as the Start button sent users into a tizzy.”

The piece goes on to explain that although users freaked out over the Windows 8 product, migrating to a user-friendly Windows 10 option could be favorable.

“Adopting Windows 10 can be as simple as upgrading an existing Windows 7 computer based on your Microsoft licensing agreement, but in many cases, a device refresh may be necessary due to hard drive space, system resources or physical capabilities,” The Inquirer article states. “From a financial perspective, the cost of a new computer — plus IT staff setup time and lost user productivity during the transition — comes at a significant price.”

But there are other options on the market that decision-makers may want to consider. These include the following.

  • Apple Devices: If Macs appear a more suitable product for your evolving business goals, the Windows 7 EOL may offer a logical time to transition.
  • BYOD: Some companies are shifting to “bring your own device” workforces. Again, this may be a time to discuss the possibility with your IT consultant.

Although migrating to Windows 10 is expected to be a reasonably positive transition, there’s little argument that Windows 7 was a solid product. It continues to be a highly regarded operating system and some business leaders may want to consider the possibility of working with the product beyond the 2020 EOL date.

It may come as something of a surprise, but Microsoft reportedly may provide support for some organizations beyond the 2020 EOL date, according to The Inquirer, Computer World, and others.

Called Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU), the after-drop-dead deal will add support through January 2023, according to Microsoft. “While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process,” Computer World reported.

Additional Windows 7 support is expected to be sold on one-year deals and businesses can expect to pay a premium. The move is viewed as a costly stop-gap measure for organizations that are falling behind a reasonable migration timeline.

Organizations that have not already begun the process of migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 or another suitable option are strongly advised to contact an IT professional ASAP. Delaying the inevitable could prove expensive one way or another. {Company} has a team of knowledgeable migration consultants and specialists with the hands-on experience to see your outfit through this challenging period.

What Are Six Challenges Faced by Today’s Manufacturing Plants?

What Are Six Challenges Faced by Today’s Manufacturing Plants?

The world of manufacturing is evolving, along with all technology, at such fast rates that many manufacturers have a hard time keeping pace. Due to budgetary constraints, many plants are struggling to keep up with the competition. Below, we go over six of the major problems that manufacturers grapple with each year.

  1. Outdated Technology

Many plants have razor-thin profit margins. This doesn’t allow them to purchase the latest technology. Though some really amazing new machines can automate practically every process, they come at a high price tag. How can you take advantage of this technology on your current budget?

  1. Regulatory Compliance and Traceability

Industry regulations are increasing each year. They’re aimed at ensuring that products don’t go out to consumers that are unsafe. There’s an additional burden in the requirement to trace every item produced. Though regulations differ from one country to the next, there’s every reason to think this trend will continue. When consumers buy products that are found to contain asbestos, mercury, cyanide, and other harmful elements, it can ruin your reputation and trigger lawsuits. Those investigating events like this need to be able to learn where those harmful ingredients originated.

  1. Aging Work Force

Baby boomers are retiring every day in America. These were skilled, hard-working people who knew the value of a dollar. Their retirement is leaving a huge gap in the American workforce. One man worked in the printing industry for 40 years and knew how to run and repair any type of printing press. How will the industry replace workers like these? It takes a lifetime to acquire knowledge and skills like that. That’s one of the major issues that manufacturing, and many industries are facing today.

  1. Keeping Products Relevant

Each time a new smartphone comes out, it causes older models to become obsolete. This is happening with almost every product line. From hair dryers to air fryers, new innovative products continually hit the market. Manufacturing companies spend a great deal of time and money just trying to keep up with what’s going on in the marketplace. There’s a huge temptation to skimp on tests and trials to make sure the product is safe to use. Sometimes companies use cheaper materials, and these can result in product failures and lawsuits.

  1. Beating Out the Competition

Fast times to market often mean that companies must hurry through important steps in the manufacturing process. In addition, product preferences change very quickly. What if your plant is making a circuit board for laptops, but new technology suddenly renders it obsolete? This will cause delays that eat away at your profits. It’s hard on your management and your workforce.

  1. Healthcare Costs

Most workers now expect some type of healthcare plan from their employer. But rising healthcare costs have put a huge strain on the already fragile manufacturing cost structures. If your plant employs 100 workers and healthcare for each one costs $600 a month, how can you recoup that $60,000 a month? Often manufacturers try to factor costs like this into the final price of their products, but then you risk losing out because some other plant can supply the same item for 20 percent less. There’s seemingly no solution for problems like this.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Manufacturers deal with issues like these every day. From compliance to having complete visibility into global supply chains, there’s an endless number of issues facing small manufacturing plants. If you make items like medical devices, the demands are even greater.

One area that all manufacturers deal with is technology. When your employees are working with the best networks, computers, apps, etc. they can get more done and reduce frustration. Mistakes are also reduced along with overtime.

Using the right technology for your industry is a proven way to crank out a better product at a lower price. Your technology investment is an investment in the future of your business. And you will realize a good solid return.

Ways to Win

It’s also important to keep equipment functioning at optimal levels. Regular preventive maintenance can help. Update your programs often. Invest in faster networks, routers, and computers. Don’t forget about replacing worn out wires and cables. When you perform regular proactive maintenance on all your equipment, you can prevent expensive breakdowns. You can keep your employees working and reduce accidents as well. That’s a win-win for everyone.

Contact Us

Manufacturing companies know they can trust mProactive with all their technology needs. We can help you discover new ways to cut costs, improve your workflow and reduce downtime. Contact us at (724) 261-3034 or at sales@mproactive.com to learn more.

How Can Small to Medium Size Manufacturing Firms Get the Extra IT Help They Need?

How Can Small to Medium Size Manufacturing Firms Get the Extra IT Help They Need?

Better IT for Small to Medium Size Manufacturing Companies 

(Questions/Answers)

With your manufacturing company growing, increasing technology demands can overload your IT department. And when you need to implement new projects, your IT department may have to work overtime. This is not only expensive when you have to pay them for overtime, but overworked techs can make mistakes that can cost you even more. There’s a great solution to this age-old problem, and it’s simple and inexpensive to implement: Hire an outside IT person. 

Is Extra Tech Help Expensive?

Your in-house tech team usually handles day-to-day tasks like computers that crash. They work to set up new employees with all their log-in credentials. And, they can set up new workstations. This type of work goes on regularly at every manufacturing firm.

{Company} can take all those mundane chores off their plate so they can focus on more important projects.  When your in-house techs aren’t so overworked, their time is freed up so they can work on increasing efficiency for everyone. They can fix areas where work seems to get congested. This is a common problem for small manufacturing plants. Your in-house IT techs have the skills to deal with issues like this, but they often don’t have the time. When you have outsourced IT help, this problem is solved.

The team at {company} will work alongside your existing in-house IT team to get everything done each day. Your IT personnel won’t be replaced — They’ll receive the help they need so your technology doesn’t suffer.

What Benefits Will Bringing on An Outside Tech Provide?

An outside IT tech is usually well skilled and can handle a wide variety of duties. They will have a background working with all types of servers, computers, and programs. They can augment your IT staffing on many different levels to maximize your capabilities. And this solution is usually no more expensive than having your IT team work overtime. With salaries for these employees what they are, overtime pay can be hard on any budget.

An outsourced tech offers diversity and other services that are critical to your manufacturing company’s success. Organizations that grow too fast suffer by not having the resources to maintain and monitor their IT assets properly. Computers may go down with no one to fix them right away. This leaves your employees sitting around waiting all day, resulting in lost time and lost money.

How Will This Affect Cybersecurity? 

Another critical area is cybersecurity. Manufacturing firms are being hit by viruses and ransomware every day. Just one incident can trigger an investigation. The rules and procedures for handling data breaches are getting tougher. The public has demanded change in this area. And many companies are responding to these needs. But others feel that it’s too expensive to improve their cybersecurity.

When you work with an outsourced IT service company, they can assess your security protocols and make recommendations for changes. They’ll also train your staff on how to avoid being the victim of a phishing scam. If they can save your manufacturing firm from just one security breach, they’ve earned their keep. Because the latest figures show that one security breach costs around $1.3 million, and it can take months to recover from. Plus, it damages your company’s reputation.

Will Costs Be Controlled & Predictable?

Outsourcing usually comes at a set monthly rate that can be included in your budget as an operating expense. It’s a predictable monthly cost that’s affordable. If your manufacturing firm no longer needs extra IT help, then it’s easy to end the contract. If you ever need help again, you’ve got an excellent resource that can come in and lend a hand as needed.

What Other Services Can Extra IT Help Provide?

Regardless of the type of manufacturing you do, you can benefit from these and many other IT services:

  • Network monitoring & maintenance
  • Cloud resources
  • Maintenance of computers
  • Help with Microsoft Office 365
  • SQL Server help and maintenance
  • Assistance with Microsoft Exchange& SharePoint
  • Overall IT security
  • Security Training
  • Patching& Updates
  • Assessments&Audits
  • Compliance with various regulations

When you need an extra hand or two, an experienced tech from {company} can support your IT department and elevate your manufacturing business to the next level. 

Manufacturing companies trust mProactive with all their technology and digital marketing needs. Contact us at (724) 261-3034 or at sales@mproactive.com to learn more!

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