Microsoft recently announced that it will officially begin the Windows 7 End of Life phase on Jan. 14, 2020. End of life is the term that Microsoft uses to identify the period when the company will no longer support an operating system or application. On that day, the company will stop supporting Windows 7 on laptops and desktops, and will no longer patch it with security updates.
 
Scenario: your small business has 15 employees who perform their every day work on Windows 7 Professional computers. Should you upgrade your current Windows 7 Professional computers, or would you be better off buying new ones with Windows 10 already installed? Let’s take a look at both options: Upgrade vs Buy New.

Upgrading to Windows 10

The upgrade process for each computer can be summarized with the following approximate steps:

    1. Backup each machine before starting, so that in case things go wrong, we can restore from the backup. This is not only done to prevent users from losing their data but more importantly because, if things go wrong, we don’t have to wipe the machine clean and reinstall Windows 7 from scratch, which can take as long as upgrading to Windows 10.
    2. Download and install the latest drivers before starting the upgrade process. Leaving the old drivers and initiating the upgrade can cause blue screening and/or other malfunctions, which would only present themselves after having already moved to Windows 10.
    3. Upgrade BIOS. The BIOS is software that is contained on a small memory chip on the PC’s Motherboard. It acts as an interface between the computer’s hardware and its operating system, e.g. Windows, allowing the software to control the PC’s hardware. Updating the BIOS will provide feature enhancements or changes that will help keep your system software current and will increase the chances of success of your Windows 10 upgrade.
    4. Install the Upgrade to Windows 10.
    5. Confirm all user Apps still working after the upgrade and perform final fine tuning.

Consider the following points:

  • Windows 10 Upgrades can go wrong, even after taking the above precautions.
  • Sometimes some of the older hardware might not work properly in Windows 10, or not at all.
  • You could end up spending almost the same amount of money as just buying newer computers with Windows 10 already installed.
  • New computers, instead of an upgraded one, will last longer than a couple of years, making it a better investment.
  • We don’t sell computers. You would buy from a third party, usually Amazon, but directly from Dell or HP are also options.

Estimating costs of upgrading your computer to Windows 10:

  1. Backup before upgrade (user data and Operating System) – 1 hour
  2. Install latest drivers for all hardware and perform BIOS upgrade – 1 hour
  3. Perform upgrade – Between 1 and 2 hours (assume 2 hours)
  4. Confirm all software still working and perform final fine tuning – 1 hour
  5. Cost of Windows 10 Professional – $199

Keep in mind that the above process can vary from user to user. It could take less on some and longer on others. Let’s be very optimistic and shrink that time down to 3 hours of labor + the cost of Windows 10 Pro, per computer.

Approximate cost of upgrading current machines:

Windows 10 Pro $199 + 3 hours labor for each machine

 

Buying computers with Windows 10 Pro already installed.

The process changes a bit when choosing to use new computers instead:

1) Backup user data (no need to backup Operating System) – 30 minutes
2) Unpack new PC, remove old PC and setup new one in its place – 30 minutes
3) Configure, install needed software, install office, configure Outlook, etc. – 1 hour
4) Cost of new computer with 8th generation Intel Core i5 – let’s estimate $600 each (for example: this Dell Desktop )

Approximate cost when using new computers instead:

New computer $600 + 2 hours labor on each machine

Conclusion

It can be cheaper indeed to perform an upgrade, but only slightly so. What’s worrisome are the unknowns and the fact that you might only be saving between 15% and 20%, compared to the cost of buying new machines. It sounds like a significant discount but when you factor in that your current hardware might need to be replaced in a couple of years anyway, it might not make sense. You will end up having to go through a similar headache again, since now it’s your hardware that needs replacing.

We usually recommend against upgrading to Windows 10 because it’s a time consuming process, during which a lot of things can go wrong. This can generate billable hours towards older machines, which might need to be replaced a couple years down the road anyway. 

Our recommendations are only suggestions and ultimately we are happy to do what you think is best for your company. Feel free to get in touch, if you would like us to look into your specific case and provide tailored recommendations.