If you are reading this article then you are probably aware that Windows 7 end of life occurred on January 14, 2020. This means any new security patches or overall updates will no longer be available for the Windows 7 operating system. So, if you have not migrated over as an organization to Windows 10 yet, this can put you in a real hole on the security front. Luckily Microsoft came prepared for such a scenario and created Windows 7 Extended Security Update (ESU) licenses that can be purchased and rolled out to applicable machines so they can continue receiving those all-important updates.

Your first question may be, what does the Windows 7 ESU license include? Well, this license will provide you security and critical updates defined by the Microsoft Security Response Center for Windows 7. The licenses last up until January 14, 2021. From there Microsoft will provide additional Windows 7 ESU licenses for 2021 and 2022. The licenses do not renew, so please plan accordingly to purchase those additional years if you are certain your organization will not be replacing those machines with a newer OS.

The Windows 7 ESU license first became available in the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) on April 1, 2019 and through Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) since December 2, 2019. Please do note that the only editions available for the Windows 7 ESU upgrade are Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. If you haven embedded version from a manufacturer, please confirm with them that the standalone ESU license will work. Also, this upgrade will not work for older operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows Vista.

As we stated earlier in the article, Microsoft is releasing this license on a yearly basis. Meaning you are paying for that years’ worth of security and critical updates. If your organization decides to forgo the first year (2020), but then wants to purchase it for the second year (2021), you will also have to pay for the first years license as well as these are cumulative update and require the previous installations to proceed forward.

Coverage Dates for the Windows 7 ESU SKUs:

  • Windows 7 Extended Security Updates 2020: January 14, 2020 – January 12, 2021
  • Windows 7 Extended Security Updates 2021: January 13, 2021 – January 11, 2022
  • Windows 7 Extended Security Updates 2022: January 12, 2022 – January 10, 2023

There are no minimum purchase requirements, so if your organization only has a handful of Windows 7 devices deployed, you can order for just those. The license can be swapped manually from PC to PC or can be pushed out via KMS. If you are running virtual machines with a Windows 7 operating system, you are paying by the terminal, not the VM. If your organization decides to not purchase this plan, but continues to use Windows 7 machines, please under that they will no longer receive bug fixes or security updates and Microsoft will not provide any form of support for this product. You can find out more in our FAQ section and Redmond Magazine article.

Buying ESUs

Various reports have suggested that it’s actually somewhat difficult to buy ESUs, especially for smaller organizations. For instance, one attempt to locate CSPs willing to sell ESUs in Germany found just one partner offering them, according to this Born’s Tech and Windows World post. An attempt to locate CSPs willing to sell ESUs in Northern California by Susan Bradley, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional supporting small businesses, found few local vendors offering ESUs. Bradley had used the recommended approach of searching Microsoft’s CSP partner portal.

“Most of those vendors are probably not interested in handling one or a few Win7 ESU purchases,” Bradley wrote. “They’re typically geared toward large businesses.”

One CSP that’s not shy about selling Windows 7 ESUs, even to smaller organizations, is MessageOps. It’s a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sirius, based in Boca Raton, Fla., and serves as the cloud division for the group, offering Azure and Office 365 services support, including ESUs for Windows 7.

“As of today, we’ve migrated north of 8 million accounts up into Office 365, you name the flavor,” explained Jim Canfield, director of online services at MessageOps, in a Tuesday phone call.

Does Size Matter?
Canfield answered some Windows 7 ESU questions, including whether organizational size matters in buying them. He described having one customer with 750 Windows 7 devices that recently purchased ESUs. Another client with 250 seats had just one Windows 7 PC that it couldn’t move, “so we put in an order for one ESU,” he said.

“You name the size, we’ll handle it if we can,” Canfield said. “It’s pretty straightforward. The only thing that’s unique at all [about the ESUs] is that it’s for one year — they have to pay a year in advance.”

He also clarified that there’s no partial-year reimbursement for the costs if an organization stops needing the ESU support midyear or so.

ESU Price Increase
The costs for ESUs actually got increased by Microsoft after it launched the program.

“It was interesting because on December first they came out at fifty bucks a user a year, and they raised the price 10 days later to $62,” Canfield said. One of MessageOps’ customers didn’t act quickly enough and got stuck with the extra costs, he added.

The old $50 per device price for Windows 7 ESUs had been previously disclosed by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley in this ZDNet article.

Organizations need to be using the Windows 7 Pro edition or higher editions to qualify to use an ESU, Canfield noted. That rule of thumb also appears to include the Windows 7 Ultimate edition. For instance, Bradley recently noted in a blog post that the Ultimate edition qualifies under the Windows 7 ESU program.

For any questions or to purchase Windows 7 ESU licenses, please contact us at www.messageops.com or call 877-788-1817; press option 2.

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