Around 7 per cent of Kiwi SMEs, or over 6000 businesses, are still using Windows 7 on at least one machine, despite it losing support last month.
New research from leasing specialist FlexiGroup and distributor Ingram Micro, conducted by Auckland-based Perceptive, shows awareness of the need to upgrade to Windows 10 was healthy at 66 per cent of the 392 businesses surveyed.
However, only half of the respondents were aware that support for Windows 7 from Microsoft was coming to an end in mid January, 2020.
Further, 40 per cent were not aware of any of the implications of that support ending.
While there was high awareness around the need to upgrade among respondents only using Windows 7, only 31 per cent were planning to upgrade their operating system in the next six months.
The research showed larger businesses (with more than 11 employees) tend to use an IT managed services provider whereas the smaller ones (10 employees or less) tend to buy directly from IT resellers.
For 75 per cent there was no preference to where IT is sourced. These respondents cared more about getting the best deal.
Those that did have a preference, cited trust as the main factor.
Many respondents to the survey were unaware of the benefits of leasing.
FlexiGroup chief commercial officer Gary Nalder said most businesses have, in the past, opted for buying their computer equipment outright rather than leasing.
"However, when it comes to end of life, the equipment is essentially worthless. In many cases, disposing of it can even incur a cost,” he said.
“With a lease, capital is preserved, and the cost of an upgrade goes from tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, to a fixed term, fixed price deal.”
FlexiGroup last year partnered with Ingram Micro to deliver upgrades through Ingram Micro’s LeaseHub, which gives IT resellers the ability to offer leasing solutions to businesses of all sizes.
Just under half of Windows 10 users were aware that upgraded hardware and software could be leased while almost 40 per cent were not aware of any of the benefits of leasing.
The benefits they were most aware of were keeping systems up to date, ease on cashflow and tax deductions.
After reading about the benefits of leasing, 13 per cent of Windows 10 users said they would have leased – this increasing to 27 per cent for companies with more than 11 or more employees).
While 66 per cent of Windows 7 users in the survey were aware of the option to lease updated hardware and software, only 35 per cent were aware or believed that it would be easier on cashflow.
There was interest in asking whether lease options were available, however, only 8 per cent said they would lease if they could.
Nalder said with support for Windows 7 ended, PCs running the old operating system will still work, but will be more vulnerable to hackers as updates and patches will no longer be released.
"Compatibility with newer software will also be in question,” he said.
Older machines are also probably limiting business performance and costing more in maintenance.
Windows 10, already in market since 2015, is noticeably faster and combined with the latest hardware, is also secure by design and compatible with all the latest cloud software, he said.
Windows 10 users in the survey mostly upgraded through purchase with 58 per cent saying they upgraded to ensure systems ran smoothly.
Keeping business data safe was a lesser concern, on 29 per cent. rising to 53 per cent in firms with more employees.
Overall, the upgrade process was satisfactory, although larger businesses showed greater levels of dissatisfaction (35 per cent unsatisfied against 7 per cent overall).
Nalder said any business owner should familiarise themselves with leasing – an option which works better for computers than even more commonly-leased items such as vehicles.
“Computer technology moves so fast that leasing is the perfect way to stay ahead of the game," he said. "Leasing means capital can be allocated elsewhere while your staff and your business always get to work with the best performing equipment.”
Leasing takes computer equipment off the balance sheet and is instead treats it as a tax-deductible expense just like "as a service" software.