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It's been almost a year since Windows 10 was released and we are just now starting to see it creep into the business environment. The primary issue with the upgrade has not been compatibility or user experience like most IT professionals would have thought. Rather, the issue is being able to decide when to upgrade. Through Windows updates, Microsoft has made the upgrade to Windows 10 less of a straightforward choice and, on some PCs, the upgrade to 10 is automatic unless the user specifically removes the upgrade from the schedule.
As IT consultants, we work with lots of different organizations and have seen it all. We always preach the 3-2-1 backup rule. 3 Copies of anything you want to keep. 2 storage medias. 1 offsite backup location. This is a widely accepted backup practice and protects against almost any type of loss. Sometimes though, good backups are not there when a data loss occurs. Maybe there was critical data on an individual user's PC when it should have been on the server. Maybe backups were setup a long time ago and have not been running for the last couple weeks or months.
On February 10th, Cisco published a security advisory about a major flaw in their ASA line of firewalls. The nature of the vulnerability is such that most of these devices out in production are affected and can be completely taken over by a remote attacker. Furthermore, there is no simple mitigation of this issue. The firmware on these devices must be flashed with an updated version with the fix built in. This means downtime for customers without a fail-over setup.
Not that long ago, installing a fiber Internet connection was so costly that it was only reserved for large corporations and data centers. Often times, these super fast connections came at the price of expensive build-outs and high monthly fees. Fiber optic lines can support much higher bandwidth and travel a lot farther than copper. Copper lines were originally intended only to transmit analog voice communications and were later adapted for digital data.
Now that Windows 10 is out in the world, should your organization pull the trigger on an upgrade? We recommend not yet. Windows 10 really is a great OS but it is still new and we are seeing issues with some in place upgrades. Microsoft is giving users a whole year to upgrade and given that Windows 10 does not offer any compelling "must have" features over Windows 7, the safe bet for now will be to stick with the good old workhorse that is Windows 7.
What does "End of Life" mean for an OS? Well, as is pertains to Windows Server 2003 it mainly means that Microsoft will no longer push out security updates. Right now, if a new exploit in Windows Server 2003 becomes known, the engineers at Microsoft will create a patch and release it through Windows Update. After July 14th 2015, there will be no more security updates released to all Windows 2003 servers.