Microsoft gives SMBs reprieve on Windows 7 support

Microsoft has widened its Windows 7 extended support programme to cover small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) after the soon-to-be legacy operating system (OS) reaches end-of-life next year.

From 14 January 2020, businesses using Windows 7 will no longer be supported with critical security updates and patches free of charge, and are instead expected to have migrated to Windows 10.

The Extended Security Updates (ESU) scheme allows eligible organisations to continue to receive paid-for security updates through to January 2023, sold on a per-device basis with costs rising each year.

In light of "challenges in today's economy", Microsoft has extended the ESU programme to all businesses. Previously, it was reserved for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing.

"Small and midsize businesses face many challenges in today's economy," Microsoft 365's corporate vice president Jared Spataro said.

"From engaging customers in new and different ways to attracting and retaining talent to remaining secure amid evolving threats, it's not easy to stay ahead of the curve," he added. "The right tools help you meet those challenges, ensuring employees can be innovative and productive while your assets stay secure.

"While many of you are well on your way to deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process. With that in mind, today we are announcing that, through January 2023, we will extend the availability of paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) to businesses of all sizes."

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Microsoft announced in August that enterprise customers would receive an additional 12 months of free security updates for the soon-to-be-retired Windows 7.

Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Enterprise Subscription Agreement (ESA) customers with active Windows 10 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 subscriptions will continue to receive these updates for free.

Microsoft's extension of the ESU scheme suggests there's been a slower than hoped upgrade to Windows 10 among businesses.

The 'crossover' moment between Windows 10 and Windows 7 popularity occurred towards the end of 2018, while Windows 7 market share only began to decline in March.

Businesses will be able to purchase an ESU through the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme from 1 December 2019.