Microsoft is offering its enterprise customers an additional year of free support for the soon-to-be-retired Windows 7 operating system (OS) beyond its end-of-life cut-off date.
With general support for Windows 7 ceasing on 14 January 2020, organisations have been urged to upgrade their devices to the firm's flagship Windows 10 OS as soon as possible.
Large enterprises and government organisations unable to meet this date, however, have been given until 31 December to opt-in to a promotional offer giving them access to 12 months of Windows 7 updates for free.
The offer has been extended to Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Enterprise Subscription Agreement (EAS) customers with active Windows 10 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 subscriptions only. These users will continue to receive essential security updates for free.
Organisations ineligible for the offer can still opt-into Microsoft's Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) programme, which offers paid-for support through to January 2023. This will be sold on a per-device basis with the price expected to rise each year.
Discounts will be available to organisations with Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education or Windows software assurance subscriptions.
The promotional offer amounts to the first year of the ESU provided without cost, with organisations charged on a per-device basis in subsequent years in line with the remaining period of the programme.
To qualify, subscriptions must stay active throughout the full ESU coverage period, or the free year of support will expire with the end of customers' subscriptions.
Microsoft has maintained that this programme, and its promotional offer, serves only as a last resort for businesses unable to upgrade in time for the 14 January end-of-life date.
The company has been working with a number of organisations, including the NHS, to upgrade devices from the legacy OS to Windows 10. One such programme for example, outlined last year, involves NHS Trusts joining a free Windows 10 migration service.
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Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.