The bells have tolled for Windows 7: Microsoft has announced that Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 14th, 2020. In fact, Windows 7 has been in an “extended support”-phase since 2015: no new features have been added since then, but security issues and bugs were still being fixed. As the support is coming to a complete halt, there will be no more technical support, software or security updates.
The operating system has been around since 2009 and is still heavily embedded in pharmaceutical companies. No more patching and no more updates means that companies still working with Windows 7 will become more vulnerable to outside threats and other security issues including those affecting data integrity. To avoid this unnecessary risk, companies should update to Windows 10 now.
This article explains why organizations need to act now, and how it needs to be done.
Why is the update needed?
So, what are the consequences of not preparing for this event? As mentioned before, there will be no more bug fixes or security updates. This in turn causes the computers, and inherently businesses, to be susceptible to any new emerging threats under the form of a virus or a visit from hackers with bad intentions. Malicious users will look for and find the opportunities to target the weak points that will develop in Windows 7 after the support ends. This increased security risk could, for example, jeopardize the GMP and data integrity in pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, new software, and even hardware, will also cease being compatibility with Windows 7 as the developing and manufacturing companies move on as well.
So, to avoid unnecessary risks, it’s better to be prepared and make a smooth transition to Windows 10.
A risk-based approach
A smooth transition, you say? But how? And even more importantly: what? As usual, a risk-based approach provides the answer.
Some systems, such as web-based software, will only use Windows to open the application, and are, generally speaking, more independent from the operating system and hinge more and the web browser used. For other software, the types that are more dependent on Windows to function, a more in-depth analysis of what is required will need to be performed. In that case it will be necessary to take a look at the intended use for each piece of the software used.
One example of an approach is to develop a set of tests that can be run after every Windows 10 update, in order to assure that it did not affect any system in a negative way. This can even be automated. Using existing controls might also assist in this process.
In addition, some equipment also runs on, or is dependent on, Windows. This has two consequences. First, some equipment might have to be requalified as it hinges too heavily on the use of Windows. A full requalification takes time, effort and hence a lot of money. A risk-based evaluation of a partial requalification approach could save time and effort but requires specific expertise. The second consequence is that some software or equipment might not yet be compatible with Windows 10, and a solution to provide business continuity will have to be found to handle these issues as well (such as virtualizing the computer), which again takes time, effort, and of course, expertise.
The only way is forward
But Windows 10 certainly has its benefits. Of course, upgrading to Windows 10 will keep you save from all sorts of perils, because of its security updates and technical support. But that’s not the only advantage you will be seeing. To name a few:
Windows 10 provides a more streamlined and fast experience
You will be upgrading from Windows to Windows, a relatively fast process
Advanced security and data management
Allows for Long-term Servicing Branch (LTSB): increased business continuity due to fewer pushed features and updates resulting in a less-involved upgrade effort, fewer disruptions and fewer possibilities for applications breaking due to a change in the operating system
It is recommended to start planning that transition now so you don’t have to start running behind the facts. Waiting, procrastinating and putting out fires as they come up: in the end this will take a lot of time and effort, efficiency might be sub-par and the smooth transition will be more like a bumpy ride. Being prepared for the Windows update is the key message.
What support does pi provide in this matter? The expertise we offer you is varied:
A uniform risk-based approach using standardised templates while keeping an eye on efficiency and effectivity
Our unique approach, because we don’t offer you one of few consultants, we offer you our entire pi family
Plenty of experts involved in equipment or instrument qualification and software validation
The knowledge required to deal with all matters of CSV, be it looking for and validating new software or revalidating the compatible software for use with Windows 10
There is only the now to act
Windows 7, the end of an era. The update to windows 10 is inevitable and, with sufficient attention to the do’s and don’ts of this period of transition, it is better tackled now than later. We at pi provide the expertise to support organisations with the correct and required assistance during this process. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions in this matter.
QC consultant @ pi