Clock’s Ticking on Windows 7

If your business is still running on Windows 7, your time is running out! Businesses, and Windows 7 users in general, have until January 14, 2020 to upgrade their operating systems or they will be out of PCI compliance and at higher risk of cyberattacks.

To have a valid operating system, your business must be running on the most current operating system. Paladin Data Corporation, which is a Gold Microsoft Partner, earns that designation by continually improving its retail platform and software products to Microsoft’s high standards. So, when Microsoft stops supporting the Windows 7 operating system, many of your business’s programs, including Paladin, won’t operate optimally and may not operate at all.

Payment Card Industry (PCI) security standards that apply to all businesses that accept payment cards say that retailers must “Ensure that all system components and software have the latest vendor-supplied security patches installed,” and “deploy critical patches within a month of release.” So, if retail businesses chose to ignore the January deadline to upgrade to Windows 10, they will no longer be compliant, and their payment card transactions will be at risk. 

Business security transcends protecting the point of sale and store database, too. Computers without security enhancements are vulnerable to all sorts of intrusions.

“Do you accept electronic payments? Do you exchange emails with customers? Do you exchange data with vendors? All those things are a risk,” says Mike Williamson, CEO of Paladin Data Corporation.

It’s Not Just the Software  

Numbers from NetMarketShare, which tracks usage of web technologies, showed in August that 30.34% of desktops and laptops still use Windows 7-based platforms.   

An inability to meet customer demand is another telltale sign a business doesn’t grasp the importance of inventory management. If the products that shoppers want aren’t on the shelves, customer satisfaction declines in addition to sales revenue. Automated inventory management software does a better job of tracking inventory in real time and forecasting consumer demand than people.   

The easiest way to protect your business is to upgrade your hardware, too. In fact, if your business has a technology replacement program that changes out PCs every few years, chances are some of your equipment is already operating on Windows 10. Paladin Data Corporation, for instance, hasn’t sold a PC with Windows 7 since 2016. So, any checkout terminals or office PCs purchased in the last three years are good to go. Anything older should probably be replaced.   

The average lifespan of a PC is three to eight years, depending on its use. That means any business computers, which run from eight to 12 hours a day, still running on Windows 7 jeopardize your business in many ways. According to a study by J. Gold Associates, if your PCs are 5 years old or older:

  • Your employees are 29% less productive.  
  • Each of those PCs is costing up to $17,000 a year is lost productivity.  
  • And each wastes an average of 11 hours per year because of slow startup.  

New PCs are like Steve Austin, the $6 Million Man: They’re stronger, faster and better than they were just a few years ago. According to experts, if they have the Windows 10 operating system, they also:

  • Have enhanced native security. 
  • Feature an update tool, Unified Update Platform (UUP), that streamlines Microsoft updates. 
  • More easily sync with other computers at home or work. 
  • Offer voice functionality, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. 
  • And are easier to configure in your business network. 

“PCs purchased from our store come with Paladin already configured and they have a five-year warranty,” Williamson says. “Businesses should have replacement plans that really consider the serviceability of their systems. If you have a 5-year-old machine go down, the lost revenue for the day is more than a headache and it would cover the replacement of more than one computer.” 

Time to Change   

Stores that have delayed upgrading their hardware are now facing doing it during the holiday season when all hands are on deck and all checkout stands are in use. Owners need to consider how many PCs they need to replace, give their technology provider enough time to configure the machines, and consider product availability.   

This required upgrade deadline could limit the supply of machines available on the market. All this means if you don’t upgrade to Windows 10-based hardware as soon as possible, you’re gambling with your livelihood. 

Brian Bullock

Writer