Last week Microsoft announced changes to their Modern Desktop servicing and support policies, providing organisations with more choice and flexibility around when they need to upgrade to later versions of the products to remain supported. Here is a list of the important changes from their announcement:
Windows 7 paid support through January 2023
Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) will be made available to volume licence customers, for either Windows 7 Pro or Windows 7 Enterprise. Extended Security Updates will be sold on a per-device basis and can extend the support provided by Microsoft to Windows 7 devices through to January 2023. Prices for Extended Security Updates will increase each year. Extended Security Updates will provide customers on Windows 7 with security and bug fixes, patching operating system vulnerabilities beyond January 2020, and protecting against cyber-attacks. This option provides flexibility to organisations by allowing them to delay their upgrade to Windows 10, and although we anticipate this option will be commercially unattractive for most customers, it can be included as an option in business cases when organisations are seeking funding for a Windows 10 upgrade project.
Changes to Windows 10 servicing
- Changes to Windows as-a-Service have been made for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education customers, to ease the application compatibility impact associated with the Windows 10 rapid servicing model:
- Firstly, support for all currently supported feature updates (1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803) has extended to 30 months from their original release date.
- Secondly, support for all future feature updates targeted for September release have been extended to 30 months.
- Finally, and rather strangely, support for the future feature updates that are targeted for March release will remain at 18 months.
- The above changes do not apply to Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro or Office ProPlus, as they will continue to be supported for 18 months from their original release date.
Office 365 ProPlus and Office Professional Plus 2016 support
- Microsoft have extended support for Office 365 ProPlus (the version available via Office 365) on Windows 8.1 to January 2023, and Windows Server 2016 to October 2025.
- Office 365 ProPlus support on Windows 7 devices has extended through January 2023, for devices with active Windows 7 extended security updates.
- Microsoft have extended Office 365 connectivity support, for Office Professional Plus 2016 clients by 3 years, to October 2023. Customers using Office 365 ProPlus are not impacted by this announcement as it applies to the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) versions of Office.
Summary and opinion
The above statements are a reflection that Microsoft have listened to customer concerns about the rapid support cycles associated with the latest versions of their Modern Desktop applications and services. They have made these changes to reduce the impact associated with the adoption of the products.
I was both surprised and pleased by the above announcements, particularly the changes to Windows as-a-Service. Although many of our customers have raised concerns about the operational impact associated with the semi-annual test, remediation and release cycle, I didn’t expect to see any changes to the support model by Microsoft.
Additionally, the Windows as-a-Service changes further strengthen the argument for purchasing Windows 10 Enterprise, rather than sticking with Pro. The Windows 7 extended servicing provides customers with an additional option when they are planning their Windows 10 upgrade, allowing them to delay the upgrade without exposing their Windows 7 device estate to increased risks. I’m not entirely sure paying for extended support is always going to be the best choice for organisations, as inevitably they will be forced to upgrade to Windows 10 by 2023 anyway. Regarding this, sourcing Windows 7 compatible devices is also still a challenge (if not impossible), but at least there is a choice now!
Should you wish to review the official Microsoft announcement, it can be found in the following blog article.
If you'd like to find out more about these changes to the Microsoft modern desktop servicing and support policies, please get in touch with your account manager, or contact us using the link below.