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Microsoft Marks 2 Years of ESU Licensing Model

Microsoft this week marked the second year of its Extended Security Update (ESU) licensing program for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008.

For organizations that still haven't upgraded to Windows 10 or newer Windows Server products, the news may trigger headaches. The ESU program, unlike other Microsoft licensing programs, requires that organizations buy licensing keys every year. These keys are good for one year, and they have to be installed on devices.

Even though Year 1 ESU keys may be installed already, organizations will need to install Year 2 keys afresh if they still need support. These Year 2 keys are good "through January 11, 2022."

Organizations can't just buy Year 2 keys alone, though. They will need to have also paid for Year 1 keys to get support. The ESU program is a three-year program altogether, which means that Microsoft will stop offering ESU keys after the Year 3 distribution, company officials have explained. The cost of the buying ESU keys is thought to double each year.

The installation process to apply ESU licenses is not too straightforward. It's demonstrated using the Microsoft Volume Activation Management Tool in this 2019 Microsoft Ignite video. IT pros need to have applied certain updates before trying to install the keys. They also need so-called "Licensing Preparation Package" files, which need to be installed before installing the ESU keys.

The ESU program lets organizations continue to get security updates for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, which fell out of support back in January. Typically, Microsoft stops delivering updates when products reach the end of their product lifecycle, including security patches.

Buying ESU keys is a clumsy process. Volume licensing purchasers need to contact their "Account Team CE" to buy the keys, while everyone else needs to find a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner that's participating in the ESU program. Microsoft offers this search portal to find those CSP partners.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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