EOL, of course, is an initialism for “End Of Life,” and refers to Windows 7’s upcoming retirement from extended support in January 2020. This information has been public knowledge for years, but the reality of Windows 7 EOL is apparently starting to set in. See the exact dates on the Microsoft Windows Lifecycle Fact Sheet page. Last week, I blogged for TechTarget about the retirement of the Windows 7 certification exams on July 31, 2018 as a poignant reminder about that OS version’s EOL. I also speculated that this would inevitably lead to a spike in migration activity and even PC sales. Companies and organizations — business users remain the largest bloc among those continuing on with the old OS — are also deciding to do a hardware refresh, as they learn that Windows 10 will run more efficiently and productively on newer PCs. This is confirmed in a ZDNet story this morning. Its title more or less proves my point: Windows 10 business upgrade cycle gives PC industry rare shipment growth. If anything demonstrates that impending Windows 7 EOL boosts Windows 10, that’s it!
What Does Impending Windows 7 EOL Boosts Windows 10 Really Mean?
Beyond the obvious — that as Windows 7 usage declines, Windows 10 usage must perforce also rise — it’s interesting to explore this dynamic a bit further. The 1.4% year-over-year growth figure for PC sales cited in the ZDNet article reverses a steady quarterly decline that has persisted since 2012. This is a pretty modest bump, but I have to speculate that this bump will continue, and probably grow, between now and the official end-of-life for Windows 7 extended support on January 14, 2020. In fact, I’d be surprised if that didn’t extend for a full year beyond that date (and perhaps longer) because of the similar phenomenon that occurred around the EOL for Windows XP when its time came on April 8, 2014. I’m also guessing that MS won’t be inclined to extend the Windows 7 EOL date beyond 2020, either. And, as with XP, I’m also guessing that some big users (particularly in some sectors of government) will find themselves forced to purchase extended support beyond EOL as they scramble to complete large-scale migrations.
For IT professionals in particular, and the industries that serve IT (services, hardware, and software), this should be something of a bonanza. Given that Windows 10 will probably surpass Windows 7 use by 2019, there will be no shortage of opportunities for this with migration and deployment skills. The size of the impending switchover is pretty mind-boggling, too. In May of this year, MS announced at its Build conference that there were over 700 million instances of Windows 10 in use. If we take that figure (by now, already a bit low given a monthly run-rate of about 20-22 million additional users) and turn to NetMarketShare to estimate the size of the Windows 7 user base, it provides a startling number. As of the end of June, it shows that 43.38% of users run Windows 7, versus 32.08% for Windows 10. Do the math, and that means 946.57M devices still run Windows 7.
That’s a lot of upgrades, and a huge base still in need of migration and deployment. Thus also it’s a ginormous opportunity. Grow your Windows 10 skills and knowledge, and you can’t help but benefit from this.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.