January 14, 2020 is the final day of support for Windows 7 from Microsoft. This will mean that no more security patches, hotfixes and updates will be provided by Microsoft. It is assumed that upgrades to Windows 10 will be completed, or the very expensive extended support option has been agreed with Microsoft as a short-term solution.

While the desktop will rightly take most of the focus, it is worth remembering the popularity of Windows as a thin client operating system, especially Windows Embedded Standard 7, or WES7 for short. WES7 provided a stable and feature rich operating system that was a significant advance over the Embedded version of Windows XP. The addition of a File Based Write Filter allowed for a secured implementation of Anti-Malware solutions to run on the Embedded Platform, as well as the common binaries for patch updates from Microsoft each month.

If WES7 was ever updated or protected in the field is a matter for debate, and depends on school of thought, but the reality is that there are many thin clients working well which will soon require an update to maintain corporate compliance. There are several options for this:

1. Replace.

As a thin client vendor, we would love this route to be adopted by one and all, and Praim can provide many options for upgrading older devices to state of the art Windows 10 IoT devices. This may not be an option, as WES7 is still being deployed so the hardware may still be brand new.

2. Upgrade.

Sounds simple, but this is not as straightforward as a PC upgrade:

i)        Firstly, the actual operating system is not commercially available to purchase off the shelf and is provided to OEMs which is sold with an EULA with each thin client.  Certain software agreements can include W10 IoT, but you have check the small print.

ii)       Secondly is end-point device capability.  This can depend on the age of the thin client as early WES7 devices may only have a 4GB Flash drive and 2GB of RAM, even newer devices may only be running 16GB Flash and 4GB of RAM.  Does this offer sufficient resource to run and then upgrade a W10 IoT device?  Praim W10 IoT solutions come with 64GB of storage which we think will safeguard your investment for several years.

iii)     Finally, performance.  If the device is an early generation WES7 unit, will it have sufficient performance to run W10?

3. Repurpose

While this is typically used for legacy PCs, it can also be applied to thin clients.  Using Praim ThinOX4PC to install a Linux based operating system onto the device, and with its small system requirements will give a new lease of life to hardware that might not be capable of running the latest version of Windows. This is a low cost, but high-performance remedy, so is worthy of consideration.

To help understand the pros and cons of using a Linux or Windows based thin client, Praim have released two articles which highlight the Top 5 reasons for each and can be downloaded from here:

5 reasons to choose Windows

5 reasons to choose ThinOX

To conclude, Praim recommend that early planning for the end of Windows 7 is started as soon as possible. For any endpoints running WES7 we can offer a solution that can provide a supported platform for the future, ranging from repurposing to replacement. To see more, visit our website to explore the Praim hardware and software solutions.