From the desk of: Sam C. Chan

Windows 7 SP1 Support Ending Jan 14, 2020

What are YOUR OPTIONS? What to look out for?

First published: March 6, 2017
Last Updated: Feburary 2019
Addendum: Oct 30, 2019

  1. replace with new station, natural upgrade
    1. acquire & deploy new box
    2. swap with someone with 8.1/10, and not affected* by this EOL
  2. wipe & install fresh 8.1/10 (much better in the long run), keeping current box, BUT
    • only after hardware specs review + diagnostics, and
    • should also consider storage upgrade (SSD?) at the same time
    • along with optimal BIOS/UEFI settings adjustment, re-strategize
  3. in-place upgrade to 8.1/10 (MS)
    1. very problematic, hence frowned upon (see my analysis)
    2. in truth, doesn't work as expected, as it
    3. mercilessly uninstalls VC++, uVNC, and many 3rd party applications, virtuall all business apps not on its approved list
    4. making it more work then fresh OS install + apps. with less stability, zero certainty
    5. only suitable tolerable for home, as last-resort, not knowing any better... IF you don't have LAN, no intricate configurations, no MCAs...
  4. opt for official Microsoft ESU,  (see addendum below)
    1. for up to 3 additional years (extremely expensive)
    2. $50 + $100 + 200 ($350 total per station)
    3. discounts available for corporations with SA subscription
  5. do nothing
    1. accept potentially insurmountable security risks in future
    2. anticipate show-stopper incompatibility with newer app versions
    3. will eventually encounter interoperability glitches in various areas
    4. workaround specific application vendors' restrictions/enforcement
      1. forgo such apps, or find alternatives
      2. relegate it to a dedicated compliant workstation with newer OS
      3. invoke virtualization (in-house/cloud)
ACQUISITION OPTIONS (what to buy: skip if not applicable)
  • pro edition (almost like home edition now in 10)
  • enterprise edition?
  • Retail Full/Upgrade vs OEM edition (full-install-only, no upgrade!)
  • corporate licensing w/ SA
  • DVD disc with PID CoA / electronic delivery / with USB drive bundle
  • "Digital Entitlement" vs PID license
  • Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 (important policy question)
  • hardware specs: no meaningful difference in requirements between 10 & 8.1 & 7
  • 8.1 is more stable (less upgrade-induced crashes, and device driver lock-ups)
  • 8.1 gives IT better control in Pro edition, w/o paying for Enterprise edition
  • 8.1 is much quieter (fewer notifications, promotions, forced installs, other surprises)
Obviously each option has pros & cons, and many subtle implications. Please call me to discuss live and finalize decision.

Timeline & Links for Official Microsoft Documents re: W7-EOL2
  • Dec2013 onMSFT did ms quietly ext w7 retail sales life after killing it
  • Oct2014 MS ceased sales of retail/OEM w7 (enterprise cont.)
  • Sep2018 MS announcement (anticipated) ESU @Ignite
  • Jan2019 Office 365 support for w7 ending
  • Sep2019 MSTC how-to get ESU for eligible devs 
  • Oct2019 MS w7 ESU availability & pricing Oct 15, 2019 
  • MS lifecycle fact sheet

ADDENDUM Oct 30, 2019

This just in... At 3-month point, Microsoft has announced the details of W7 ESU (Extended Security Update) service, for Pro and Enterprise editions, with progressively rising price each year, until 2023.

ESU announcement: Oct 1, 2019; edited Oct 15, 2019 (my excerpt below, highlights are mine) we are announcing that, through January 2023, we will extend the availability of paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) to businesses of all sizes. (Previously, Windows 7 ESU was only available to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing.) The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis with the price increasing each year.

Starting on December 1, 2019, businesses of any size** can purchase ESU through the cloud solution provider (CSP) program. This means that customers can work with their partners to get the security they need while they make their way to Windows 10.

Partners within the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program can go to the Microsoft Partner Center to learn more. Meanwhile, Windows 7 customers looking to take advantage of the paid Extended Security Updates once they are available on December 1 can find out more by visiting our FAQ page. Finally, if you’d like to learn more about the end of Windows 7 support and the Office 365 Business, head to our support page.

Note: this is expected and routine. All past versions of MS OS had this paid ESU period offer. What is unclear, is whether they will (at last-minute) formally defer W7 EOL2 date (extra grace period), and provide limited security updates free to general public, making it acceptable to use for small businesses.
end of addendum

*while Windows 7 SP1 itself will continue to work as OS platform beyond EOL date, albeit without further security updates, there are additional applications-related hurdles. IF you use Office 365, Quickbooks, Lacerte, TaxWise, etc., YOU ARE AFFECTED (they will immediately stop functioning).

**previously, only corporations with Windows O.S. licensing (Enterprise edition) + Software Assurance (SA) were permitted to invoke ESD. That options is being granted to Professional edition users for the first time. Note that the availability is not-at-all a surprise. It has always been offer since first version of NT.


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