Irregular Refresh Cycle Leads to Dash to Replace Windows 7

While Madison County, Ind., is looking at a one-time expense because of Microsoft’s switch to the Windows 10 operating platform, many surrounding counties phased in the transition over several years.

by Ken de la Bastide, The Herald Bulletin / March 25, 2019

(TNS) — Two years ago Microsoft announced it was ending support in 2020 for its computer operating system Windows 7, causing problems for government entities and private business.

Earlier this year, Lisa Cannon, director of the Information Technology Department for Madison County, Ind., informed the County Council the computers and mobile computers need to be replaced at an estimated cost of $800,000.

While Madison County is looking at a one-time expense because of Microsoft’s switch to the Windows 10 operating platform, many surrounding counties phased in the transition over several years.

Cannon said at one time the county budget included $100,000 to replace 100 computers.

“That was supposed to be in the budget every year,” she said. “The second year it was reduced to $50,000 and it was not funded in the third year.

“That would have allowed us to cycle new computers into the system every three or four years,” Cannon said.

In addition to the Microsoft changes, the state is making changes to the system used by the courts.

“It’s impossible to upgrade the computers,” she said. “They have to be replaced.”

Cannon said the county and surrounding public safety agencies need 200 mobile computer terminals at a cost of $147,000.

Each public safety agency will be responsible for the cost of their mobile computer terminals, she said.

Cannon is exploring a three-year lease to purchase the new computers, increased memory and processing upgrades.

“The bottom line is security,” Cannon said.

She said Wednesday that to lease the new computers will cost $137,000 per year and $79,000 for the mobile units. After three years the county has the option of purchasing the equipment for $1.

Microsoft is also changing the way it issues licenses for the software; that will cost the county an additional $85,000 starting in 2020.

“We’re at their mercy,” Cannon said of the Microsoft software.

Delaware, Hamilton and Howard counties have all been gradually upgrading their computer equipment to cope with the Microsoft change for several years.

“Fortunately, we have been trying to keep up with the change,” Jim Flook, IT director for Delaware County, said. “We have been replacing equipment as we can and going to Windows 10.”

Flook said Delaware County tries to replace computers every three years.

“We worked to repurpose and upgrade to Windows 10,” he said. “We phased it in, including the mobile units.”

Flook said he wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft extended the timeline for support of the Windows 7 operating platform.

“You really can’t wait,” he said of an extension. “They (Microsoft) got you.”

Jeremy Stevens, IT director in Howard County, said the county started a cycle of upgrading the software several years ago.

“We have a normal rotation schedule to refresh the computers,” he said. “That was the approach the county decided to take. We tried to find a balance between the need and the budget.”

Chris Mertens, IT director for Hamilton County, said the county has already made the transformation to Windows 10.

“We completed that project,” he said. “When Microsoft announced the timeline, we tried to be ahead of the curve.”

Mertens said Hamilton County has a four- to five-year replacement cycle for computers.

“We took our oldest units and upgraded to Windows 10,” he said. “We started when Microsoft published it was ending support for Microsoft 7.”

At What Cost?

Estimated cost to replace all of the computers used by Madison County and 200 mobile units for public safety agencies: $800,000

Proposal is a 3-year lease with an option for the county to buy the equipment for $1.

Annual lease payment:

  • New personal computers — $137,000
  • Mobile units — $79,000
  • Microsoft license fee increase — $85,000 annually

©2019 The Herald Bulletin (Anderson, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.