Microsoft Offers 1 Year of Free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates to E5 Licensees

Microsoft is offering one year of free support under its Extended Security Updates (ESU) program to Windows 7 users if their organizations have E5 licensing.

The free one year of ESU support is a promotional offer. It's just good if accepted between the time span of "June 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019." The E5 plan is a top-tier licensing option aimed at enterprise organizations.

Apparently, the free one year of ESU support for Windows 7 E5 users is a new perk. It's described in this FAQ support document, which indicated that it was "last updated" on Nov. 5, 2019. This obscure document was noted by Directions on Microsoft, an independent consultancy, in this Friday Twitter post.

Windows 7 will reach its end-of-life support date on January 14, 2020. The software continues to function, but Microsoft stops delivering patches, including security updates, after that end-of-life date, which means there are security risks associated with its continued use. The ESU program adds three years of support to that end date, during which Microsoft delivers "Critical" and "Important" Windows 7 patches.

Microsoft previously had just described granting three years of free ESU support for Windows 7 instances hosted by service providers. For instance, free support was available for organizations using the Windows Virtual Desktop virtual desktop infrastructure service to access Windows 7, or if they accessed Windows 7 hosted on an Azure virtual machine.

Promo Requirements
Organizations wanting to use the free one year of ESU support need to be have Windows 7 licensed under the following plans, according to the FAQ:

  • Windows E5
  • Microsoft 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 E5 Security
  • Windows VDA E5

The free one year of ESU support is also available in Government (G5) plans, but not Education plans.

Microsoft is just offering one year of free support to E5 users because "we believe that most customers who have to purchase Windows 7 ESU will require only Year 1 coverage as they continue to deploy Windows 10," the FAQ explained.

Organizations taking advantage of the one year of free ESU support can still buy into the ESU program for an additional two years of Windows 7 patch support, "without having to acquire the 2020 ESU license," the FAQ explained. That's an exception to the ESU program generally, which doesn't offer price breaks for organizations buying into the program at later years. So, for instance, organizations buying into the program at Year 2 still have to pay for Year 1's patches.

Microsoft is not offering this free one year of Windows 7 ESU support via its Cloud Solution Provider partners, the FAQ indicated.  

Last Ditch Plan
Microsoft originally announced the ESU program in September of last year, but has since modified it. It dropped a volume licensing requirement in October of this year, for instance.

The ESU program is supposed to be a last-ditch resource for organizations having troubles upgrading to Windows 10. It could be costly to use the ESU program, though. Microsoft doesn't publish the program's costs, but they are said to double each year. A possible estimate was unearthed by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley in this February ZDNet article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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