Windows 7 will show “courtesy reminders” to nag you that support ends soon

Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate.

As the end of Windows 7’s free extended support period nears, Microsoft is going to do more to tell Windows 7 users that their operating system will soon cease receiving security updates.

Starting next month, the operating system will show users a “courtesy reminder” to tell them that security updates will cease and that Windows 10 (and hardware to run it on) exists. Microsoft promises that the message will only appear a “handful of times” during 2019 and that there will be a “do not notify me again” checkbox that will definitely suppress any future messages.

For those organizations that intended to keep using Windows 7 beyond its January 14, 2020 cut-off date, Microsoft has up to three years of paid fixes through its new Extended Security Update (ESU) scheme. These will be available to any organization with a volume license and will have a ratcheting cost structure that doubles the price each year.

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Windows 7 Extended Security Updates will double in price each year

Windows 7’s free support period ends on January 14, 2020. Microsoft is offering three years of support updates for the operating system on a paid basis with a new program called Extended Security Updates. Unlike previous after-life support options for Windows, which were offered as part of separately negotiated support contracts, the Windows 7 ESU updates will be available to any volume license customer, regardless of size or sales channel.

Pricing for this support has now leaked to Mary Jo Foley. For organizations already subscribing to Windows Enterprise, the first year of updates will cost an additional $25 per device. This doubles to $50 for the second year and $100 for the third year. Organizations can’t skip a year, either; previous years must be paid for to obtain the year two and year three support. For companies sticking with Windows 7 Pro instead of subscribing to Windows Enterprise, the first year will cost $50 per device and will double each subsequent year to $100 and then $200.

There’s no minimum purchase for the ESU subscriptions, so companies can buy as few as they need. It’s not clear if there will be any volume discounts for larger deployments still stuck with the legacy operating system.

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Windows 7 enters its final year of free support

Licensing and support lifecycles are not really the easiest topics to illustrate.

Windows 7’s five years of extended support will expire on January 14, 2020—exactly one year from today. After this date, security fixes will no longer be freely available for the operating system that’s still widely used.

As always, the end of free support does not mean the end of support entirely. Microsoft has long offered paid support options for its operating systems beyond their normal lifetime, and Windows 7 is no different. What is different is the way that paid support will be offered. For previous versions of Windows, companies had to enter into a support contract of some kind to continue to receive patches. For Windows 7, however, the extra patches will simply be an optional extra that can be added to an existing volume license subscription—no separate support contract needed—on a per-device basis.

These Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be available for three years after the 2020 cut-off, with prices escalating each year.

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Half of enterprise machines run Windows 10, as Windows 7’s end of life looms

Who doesn't love some new Windows?

On Microsoft’s earnings call for the first quarter of its 2019 financial year, CEO Satya Nadella said that “more than half of the commercial device installed base is on Windows 10.”

A Microsoft spokesperson “clarified” this to say, “based on Microsoft’s data, we can see that there are now more devices in the enterprise running Windows 10 than any other previous version of Windows.” That description offers a little more wriggle room; Windows 10 might only have a plurality share of enterprise systems rather than the majority share Nadella claimed. But either way, a substantial number of machines in the enterprise are currently running Windows 10.

Equally, however, it means that there’s a substantial number of machines not running Windows 10. Those systems are likely to be running Windows 7. Windows 7 is due to drop out of support in January 2020. Beyond that date, Windows 7 users will either have to pay for up to three years of patches or switch to Microsoft-hosted virtual machines, which will receive the three additional years of patching at no cost.

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Windows 10 support extended again: September releases now get 30 months

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In its continued efforts to encourage corporate customers to make the switch to Windows 10, Microsoft is shaking up its support and life cycle plans again. Support for some Windows 10 releases is being extended, and the company is offering new services to help detect and address compatibility issues should they arise.

The new policy builds on and extends the commitments made in February this year. Microsoft has settled on two annual feature updates (the “Semi-Annual Channel,” SAC) to Windows 10, one finalized in March (and delivered in April) and the other finalized in September (and delivered in October). Initially, the company promised 18 months of support for each feature update, a policy that would allow customers to defer deployment of feature updates or even skip some updates entirely. Going forward, the September releases are going to see even longer support periods; for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education, each September release will receive 30 months of servicing. In principle, an organization that stuck to the September releases could go two years between feature updates.

Customers of Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Pro for Workstations will continue to receive only 18 months of updates for both March and September releases.

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Microsoft offers extended support for Windows, SQL 2008: but with a catch

Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2, as well as SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2, are due to move out of extended support over the next few years; SQL Server in July 2019, and Windows Server in January 2020. For organizations still using that software, this offers a few options: keep using the software and accept that it won’t receive any more security updates, migrate to newer equivalents that are still supported, or pay Microsoft for a custom support contract to continue to receive security updates beyond the cutoff dates.

Today, Microsoft added a fourth option: migrate to Azure. Microsoft is extending the support window by three years (until July 2022 for SQL Server, January 2023 for Windows Server) for workloads hosted on Azure in the cloud. This extended support means that customers that make the switch to the cloud will receive another three years of security fixes. After those three years are up, customers will be back to the original set of choices: be insecure, upgrade, or pay for a custom support contract.

Microsoft isn’t requiring customers to demonstrate that they have any kind of migration plan in place, and this support scheme incurs no additional costs beyond those already imposed by running software on Azure in the first place.

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Microsoft extends Windows 10 support period, but makes cuts to Office 2019

In the olden days, Microsoft’s support policy for Windows and Office was simple. Each release had five years of mainstream support, during which it received security updates, feature improvements, and stability fixes. That was followed by five more years of extended support, during which time it received security updates only.

With Windows 10 and “Windows-as-a-service,” that policy got all shaken up. After a period of refining the details, Microsoft settled on the current scheme. Mainstream Windows, Office, and Windows Server users are on the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC). They get two major servicing updates each year, with each version named with a two-digit year, two-digit month; the current version is 1709 because it was built in September 2017. Its successor will be built in March 2018, hence named 1803. Each of these releases receives 18 months of security updates, and each Office SAC release is only supported on supported Windows SAC releases.

For organizations that can’t or won’t use the SAC, there is also a Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). Windows, Office, and Windows Server LTSC releases are made every three years and receive the traditional five years mainstream plus five years extended support policy.

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Microsoft drops the price of its standard support for Azure to $100 per month

 If you are a Microsoft Azure customer and want to get 24/7 access to technical and billing support for your company, as well as a response time of less than an hour for your critical issues, but you don’t want to pay $300 per month for this, today is your lucky day. Microsoft today announced that it’s dropping the price of Azure Standard Support from $300 per month to $100 per… Read More