IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

The Countdown Begins on Windows 7

With just 12 months of life left in the legacy OS, MSPs need a plan for upgrading clients. By Geoffrey Oldmixon

THE RACE IS on for 2020. No, we’re not talking politics; we’re talking Windows refresh.

Microsoft will end extended support for its widely used Windows 7 operating system in January of next year. That means there’s a busy year of upgrades—and revenue opportunities—ahead for IT solution providers.

From a sales perspective, the pitch is simple and succinct: “Computers over 4 years old cost one-and-a-half times the amount in maintenance,” says Ryan Bowman, sales manager at Manheim, Pa.-based TCW Computer Systems. Ergo, faster computers with fewer issues will mean more productive employees.

Bowman educates clients about the costs associated with older machines and unsupported technology, and offers deals on replacements and support. “We incentivize our clients with discounted hardware and we lower their MSP [minimum support price].”

From the work-to-be-done perspective, planning ahead is Joshua Zukerman’s strategy. The president of Snow Pond Technology Group, in Oakland, Maine, says his company has been slowly getting upgrades and replacements done to avoid “a crush of work before that support date.”

Throughout 2018, Snow Pond used its RMM solution to research which of its clients’ machines needed replacing and then arranged technology upgrade planning meetings to establish a reasonable pace for the work.

“In our plans, we incentivize our clients with discounted hardware and we lower their MSP [minimum support price].”—RYAN BOWMAN, SALES MANAGER, TCW COMPUTER SYSTEMS

Zukerman’s suggested approach is to start replacing one computer a month or every other month. “For those that can’t spend, we work with [customers] to maybe purchase half one year [2018] and half the next,” he says.

Some SMBs will need an equipment refresh while others will simply need an OS upgrade. “The OS upgrades make sense if the client’s computers are less than 3 years old and in good condition,” Zukerman explains. “Anything that’s older than 3 years is probably going to need to be replaced. Or we may recommend upgrading the hard drive and the RAM.”

Sometimes, a Windows refresh means upgrading other specialized software too, especially if it runs on premises. Though most of Snow Pond’s clients use cloud-based software, the dental practices his firm supports still have on-site solutions. For his team, additional software upgrades have been minimal, however. “The two or three companies I deal with have all updated their software,” Zuckerman says, “so they’re Windows 10 compliant.”

Zukerman does not recommend SMB customers purchase Microsoft’s optional Extended Security Updates service for Windows 7, which allows users to continue receiving patches through January 2023, because of its high price. “I don’t see that happening for any business for less than 50 seats,” he says.

With just 12 months left before Microsoft’s end-of-life date for Windows 7, MSPs will need to work diligently—and systematically—to establish a plan for “getting every client system upgraded or replaced,” Zuckerman says. That’s a 2020 campaign to run on.

About the Author

Geoffrey Oldmixon is a freelance writer based in Western Massachusetts.

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