Microsoft has confirmed that enterprise customers who use Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise versions and have purchased Extended Security Updates (ESU) will continue to receive critical security updates for three years even though they won't receive regular bug fixes and updates or assistance from Microsoft Support.
In a FAQ article updated on 24 December, Microsoft said that even though the Windows 7 operating system will stop receiving software updates, technical support for any issues, and security updates and fixes from 14 January 2020, enterprise customers can avail extended security support for their devices till 2023 if they sign up for Extended Security Updates (ESU).
The software giant rolled out Extended Security Updates in April this year for enterprise customers using Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise versions. Additionally, customers who are using Windows 7 for Education (EDU) can also purchase Windows 7 ESU from cloud service providers.
"Windows 7 ESU include security updates for critical and important issues as defined by Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) for a maximum of three years after January 14, 2020. After January 14, 2020, if your PC is running Windows 7 and you have not purchased Extended Security Updates, the computer will no longer receive security updates," the company said.
Existing Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers can purchase ESU for their devices at any time until 2022 when the offer will expire. Organisations that use volume licensing (VL) to manage on-premises deployments will be able to purchase Windows 7 ESU separately and use a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) key provided by Microsoft to enable extended security support.
Windows 7 ESU will provide critical fixes but isn't an alternative to the latest Windows 10 OS
Even though VL customers who have subscription licenses for Windows Enterprise SA or Windows Enterprise E3 will be able to avail advantageous pricing, Windows 7 ESU will only ensure updates for critical and important issues identified by Microsoft and will not include regular bug fixes or updates. Additionally, enterprise customers will not be able to avail any assistance from Microsoft Support even if they purchase ESU.
"Although end of support for Windows 7 is January 14, 2020, organisations can purchase ESU at any time during the three years that the offer is available. If an organisation waits and purchases ESU for the first time in year two or year three, they will have to pay for the preceding years also. This is because the security updates that are offered under the ESU program are cumulative," Microsoft said.
The fresh update comes after Microsoft announced in October that its decade-old Windows 7 operating system will stop receiving software updates, technical support for any issues, and security updates and fixes from 14 January 2020.
While Microsoft is recommending users to upgrade to Windows 10 Home for personal and household use, enterprise users are being asked to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro to avail additional features such as BitLocker, remote desktop, and domain join to support professionals. Microsoft also warned that post-January 14 2020, Office 365 users will not receive new feature updates to Office 365 even though Office security updates will be provided up till January 2023.
"Using Office 365 on older, unsupported operating systems may cause performance and reliability issues over time. As a valuable Office 365 subscriber, we want to continue to provide a stable Office 365 experience. Therefore, if you're using Office 365 on a computer running Windows 7 we strongly recommend you move to Windows 10," Microsoft said.