Windows 7’s five years of extended support will expire on January 14, 2020. After this date, security fixes will no longer be freely available for the operating system that’s still widely used. If you still use Windows 7, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
“Changes and upgrades in technology are inevitable,” said Brad Anderson, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, in a blog. “And there’s never been a better time to start putting in motion the things you need to do to shift your organization to a modern desktop with Microsoft 365.” Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for Windows 7 to business customers that pay for support, according to ZDNet, but not individual users.
Windows 7 was released in 2009 and is still one of the most widely used desktop operating systems. Windows 10 finally overtook Windows 7 in the desktop market at the end of last year, according to ZDNet. Data analysis reports for December 2018 showed that 39.2 percent of the machines they collect data from used Windows 10, while 36.9 percent used Windows 7, according to ZDNet.
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 will be 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.
According to Microsoft Technologist Peter Bright, as an alternative, Microsoft is offering all three years of ESUs to customers of the new Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) service at no extra cost. This service offers cloud-hosted virtual machines running Windows 7 plus whatever applications are needed, and those virtual machines will continue to be patched into 2023. WVD uses existing Windows Enterprise E3 licenses, and it runs on the full range of Azure virtual machines, with no additional costs incurred. This includes, for example, GPU-equipped VMs, meaning that WVD should be usable for a wide range of workloads.
Office 365 will continue to be supported on Windows 7, but only with the ESUs applied. Similar policies exist for Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2. These also drop out of free support in one year. For on-premises deployments, customers will be able to buy the Extended Security Updates, but workloads in Azure will receive all three years of fixes for free.
Contact Zunesis if your organization is interested in moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10. We can provide support and expertise during the transition.