On January 14, 2020, Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 / R2 will receive security updates for the last time. After that, these operating systems have officially reached the end of ten-year support. On the other hand, according to netmarketshare end of October 2019 still scarce 27 percent of all desktop systems with Windows 7 SP1 fitted. By the end of January 2020, a complete switch to Windows 10 is no longer possible for many companies.
Update program for companies only
Microsoft has therefore launched the Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows 7 SP1 and certain Windows Server company equivalents. Corporate customers can book an additional supply of security updates for a maximum of three years – ie until January 2023. This offer is subject to a fee and the price increases from year to year. The ESU option must be booked for one year and per machine.
Already in September 2018 it became known that there will be ESU for the versions Windows 7 Professional and Enterprise. However, the prerequisite is the conclusion of a volume license with a support contract (Software Assurance). This clientele – typically large companies – could according to a Microsoft announcement book this option to obtain the enhanced security updates through the Volume Licensing Center as of April 1, 2019.
Uncertainty in Windows 7 Ultimate
Since many customers would stay out in this constellation, Microsoft announced in early October 2019 then another step. Microsoft wants to offer the fee-based ESU for Windows 7 from 1 December 2019 not only large, but also small and medium-sized enterprises.
It is also possible to buy this extended support without a volume license and only for one machine. This sale is the responsibility of the Microsoft partners of the Cloud Solution Provider Program (CSP). However, it is currently unclear whether this option is also available for Windows 7 Ultimate in addition to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. Because Microsoft has in the meantime revised its related websites several times.
Currently points the corresponding Microsoft website only Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise as eligible. In the associated FAQ Additionally, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2008, and SQL Server 2008 R2 are named as eligible for the ESU program.
At the same time, Microsoft plans to deploy security updates for Office 365 ProPlus under Windows 7 by 2023. Meanwhile, Microsoft has also noticed that December 1, 2019 falls on a Sunday and postponed the start date for the ESU purchase for SMEs to December 2.
First free, then paid
What remains exciting, however, is the question of what the cost of receiving Extended Security Updates per machine actually costs. In Augst 2019, Microsoft announced a promotion that will give eligible companies a year of free support under the ESU program. To do this, companies must subscribe to Windows E5, Microsoft 365 E5, or Microsoft 365 E5 Security between June 1 and December 31, 2019. In addition, the second and third year will be charged. Microsoft argues that it wants to support the companies in the first year, but the majority of the machines will be changed within this period. Therefore, no free support over three years is required.
However, the above offer is not an option for small businesses with one or two Windows 7 Professional machines. At what prices does a buyer from the SME environment have to expect if he wants to book the extended security update program from a Microsoft partner on 2 December 2019? Microsoft referred inquiries to its CSP program partners. However, requested partners did not respond or said at the end that there were no prices yet.
Microsoft is expected to silence partners and customers about confidentiality agreements regarding specific prices, as reported by anonymous sources. The prices are negotiable but would be in the range of what leaked on the internet, Apparently, device and year prices are reported to start at $ 25 for volume-licensed Windows 7 Enterprise and to double each year. For Windows 7 Pro, the first year starts at $ 50 per device, doubling each year.
Preparing for Extended Security Updates
Meanwhile, Microsoft has too technical details to prepare for the ESU called. To be able to distribute the extended security updates via the standard update channels (Windows Update, Windows Server Update Service) from February 2020, the following updates must be installed on the machines:
- the SHA-2 Code Signing Support Update KB4474419 for Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008, September 23, 2019;
- the Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB4490628 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, March 12, 2019;
- the Servicing Stack Update (SSU) KB4516655 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 September 10, 2019;
- the Monthly Rollup Update KB4519976 for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, October 8, 2019.
In addition, an ESU activation key must be installed and activated. This ESU product key is reissued when the ESU program is posted for each machine and extension year. Only with this activation key are the clients and servers able to obtain and install the updates.
Check functionality by test update
To test it for functionality, Microsoft has the test update in early November KB4528069 released for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. However, this must be manually downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog or obtained and installed via WSUS. Distribution via Windows Update is not provided.
In the support contribution, Microsoft states that the update is not applicable to Windows 7 Virtual Desktop (WVD). It is understandable that the test update does not apply to Windows 7 Embedded OS. Because these Windows 7 version still has support until October 12, 2021, Strangely enough, however, no corresponding test update for Windows Server 2008 is available.
The bottom line is the situation for small companies that want to equip a Windows 7 Professional or a Windows Server 2008 / R2 with advanced security updates for 2020 and beyond, so far rather confused dar. The only thing that is currently known, is the launch date December 2, 2019 for the purchase of ESU licenses through Microsoft partners in the CSP program. But Microsoft and its partners have some time to clear up some things until the beginning of February 2020.
. (tagsToTranslate) CSP (t) ESU (t) Windows (t) Windows 7