Microsoft has ended the third and final year of Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) and is urging customers to migrate to Windows 11 on a new PC or buy Windows 10 if they can't or don't want to.
Microsoft has offered SMB and enterprise customers paid-for Windows 7 ESU since ending free security updates for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. It's offered the Windows 7 ESUs to businesses for up to three years and that period came to an end today, January 10 -- the date of the first Patch Tuesday of 2023.
The same goes for the less widely adopted Windows 8.1, for which support also ends today. Microsoft is not offering an ESU program for Windows 8.1.
Microsoft released Windows 7 in October 2009 and kept offering users security patches for just over a decade. Today, as it ends the Windows 7 ESU program, the most current versions of Windows are Windows 10 22H2 and Windows 11 22H2.
Also ending today are patches for Microsoft 365 Apps running on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft gave these customers the additional three years of support to give them time to move to Microsoft 365 from Windows 7 to Windows 11 or Windows 10. Microsoft 365 on Windows 7 and other unsupported versions of Windows will no longer receive security updates until they update to supported versions of Windows 10, or Windows 11.
Microsoft is urging Microsoft 365 customers to move to a "new PC with Windows 11" already installed, but notes that most Windows 7 PCs lack the hardware required for Windows 11. If customers don't want to buy new PCs with Windows 11, they'll need to purchase Windows 10 for their existing hardware in order to get patches.
"PCs have changed substantially since Windows 7 was first released ten years ago. Today's computers are faster, more powerful, and sleeker -- plus they come with Windows 11 already installed," Microsoft says.
"Most Windows 7 devices will not meet the hardware requirements for upgrading to Windows 11, as an alternative, compatible Windows 7 PCs can be upgraded to Windows 10 by purchasing and installing a full version of the software. Before investing in a Windows 10 upgrade, please consider that Windows 10 will reach its end of support date on October 14, 2025."