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

Windows 10 support could end early on some Intel systems

When Microsoft introduced Windows 10 and its “Windows as a Service” model, the company promised Windows users a steady stream of updates to their machines. The days of being stuck on an old version of Windows would be forgotten; once you were on Windows 10, you’d have access to the latest and greatest forever. But that support came with a small footnote: you’d only receive updates for the “supported lifetime of the device” that you were using Windows 10 on.

The old system of Windows development, with substantial paid upgrades every three years or so, had many problems. Not least among those problems was how many people opted to stick with older versions of Windows, which was bad for both system security (old Windows has fewer security protections than new Windows) and software developers (old Windows APIs have wider market share than better, newer ones) alike. But the old system did afford a certain advantage when to hardware support: each new release of Windows represented an opportunity to revise the system specs that Windows demanded. A new major version of Windows could demand more memory, certain processor features, or a particular amount of disk space.

Moreover, if a given version of Windows worked on your hardware, you’d be assured that it would continue to receive security updates for a set period of time, thanks to the 5+5 support policy that Windows had: five years of security and feature updates, followed by five years of security-only updates. Exactly how many years of updates you’d get would, of course, depend on how far through that ten year cycle your purchase was made, but at least the end date was predictable and known ahead of time.

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Microsoft’s decision to patch Windows XP is a mistake

Once again, Microsoft has opted to patch the out-of-support Windows XP. Dan has written about the new patch, the circumstances around the flaws it addresses, and why Microsoft has chosen to protect Windows XP users. While Microsoft’s position is a tricky one, we argue in this post first published in 2014 that patching is the wrong decision: it sends a clear message to recalcitrant corporations that they can stick with Windows XP, insecure as it is, because if anything too serious is found, Microsoft will update it anyway. Windows 10 contains a wide range of defense-in-depth measures that will never be included in Windows XP: every time an organization resists upgrading to Microsoft’s latest operating system, it jeopardizes its own security.

Microsoft officially ended support of the twelve-and-a-half-year-old Windows XP operating system a few weeks ago. Except it apparently didn’t, because the company has included Windows XP in its off-cycle patch to fix an Internet Explorer zero-day that’s receiving some amount of in-the-wild exploitation. The unsupported operating system is, in fact, being supported.

Explaining its actions, Microsoft says that this patch is an “exception” because of the “proximity to the end of support for Windows XP.”

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Windows 10 gets major update as Windows Vista reaches its end of life

Today Windows Update sees the first mainstream release of the Windows 10 Creators Update and the last public patches, ever, for Windows Vista.

Released to manufacturing on November 8, 2006 and shipping to consumers on January 30, 2007, Windows Vista had a troubled development and a troubled life once it shipped. But it was an essential Windows release, laying the groundwork for Windows 7 and beyond. For all the criticism that Vista and Microsoft received, the company never really backtracked on the contentious aspects of the release. After a while, those aspects just stopped being contentious.

Troubled development

Windows Vista was originally meant to be grander in scope and ambition. Microsoft’s Longhorn project envisaged a new database-like file system known as WinFS, a radically new development model and set of APIs based on .NET, and a 3D accelerated user interface built using these APIs.

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Apple’s standalone support app hits the U.S. App Store

apple-support-app Apple’s recently launched standalone support application is now hitting the U.S. App Store. The app, which had quietly debuted last month outside the U.S., lets you access product documentation, schedule appointments, as well as chat, email or schedule calls with an Apple Support technician, among other things. While the ability to look for nearby stores and schedule appointments at… Read More

Use Windows Server with Skylake and you won’t have to upgrade in 18 months

In January Microsoft announced that owners of systems using Skylake processors would have to upgrade to Windows 10 within 18 months of the announcement, and that users of Intel Kaby Lake systems, due to be released later this year, would only be supported in Windows 10.

This raised an obvious question: what will the situation be for users of Windows Server 2008, based on Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 R2, based on Windows 7, Windows Server 2012, based on Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 R2, based on Windows 8.1, and the as-yet unreleased Windows Server 2016, based on Windows 10? Specifically, which versions of the server operating system will support Skylake and Kaby Lake, and will server operators be required to upgrade to Windows Server 2016 to get support for these processors?

Today the company answered those questions, and surprisingly, given that the operating systems share so many underlying components, the answer is different.

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