back to article Microsoft tells volume customers they can stay on Windows 7... for a bit longer... for a fee

Windows 7 hold-outs were thrown a lifeline by Microsoft today – as were administrators exhausted by the pace of Windows 10 updates. Want Windows 7 support until 2023? Sure thing, but it’ll cost you Windows 7 remains the most popular variant of Microsoft’s operating systems on corporate desktops, and enterprises are not showing …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you MS, but I don't really need two packs of new exploits a year.

    Pass the bucket.

  2. malle-herbert Silver badge
    Linux

    Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

    To switch to Linux...

    So yes, “none of them” IS an option...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

      No kidding, Unless your company runs some weird custom middleware or specialized software that should have been updated 10 years ago, switching to Linux is the no brainer solution.

      1. Alister Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

        Unless your company runs some weird custom middleware or specialized software

        Yeah, like Active Directory, or Visual Studio...

        1. CowardlyLion

          Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

          > Yeah, like Active Directory, or Visual Studio...

          Even that's available for Linux now

          https://code.visualstudio.com/

          1. Ian 7

            Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

            Different product, same (or at least, related) branding. Not the same thing at all, really, other than they can both edit text files.

        2. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

          And FreeIPA is the Linux counterpart to AD.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

            "And FreeIPA is the Linux counterpart to AD."

            Except it's a bolt together of components from multiple companies, and doesn't provide basic AD functionality like Group Policy, Authorization, Conditional Access, Trusts or Federation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

              "Except it's a bolt together of components from multiple companies,"

              ...therefore...?

              "and doesn't provide basic functionality like Group Policy"

              That's what proper tools like Ansible, Puppet or Saltstack are for.

              "Authorization, Conditional Access, Trusts or Federation."

              Actually it does those, and does them well. Better to comment on things you've actually used.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

        "Unless your company runs some weird custom middleware or specialized software that should have been updated 10 years ago, switching to Linux is the no brainer solution."

        Munich tried that, it took ten years to partly migrate, the users hated it, and according to Munich's own figures it cost of €100 million more than staying with Microsoft would have. Now they are migrating to Windows 10.

    2. BobChip
      Linux

      Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

      Yes, people are now switching to Linux, but still in relatively small numbers. It is only AFTER you have made the switch, AND you have become comfortable with the new system, that you begin to appreciate just how very much better than MS Windows (Win 10 in particular, but that's not difficult) it really is. I have NEVER had a BSOD, or an update bork my system, in 6 years of daily use. I love the support it provides for my legacy film scanner. Updates are not forced on me, and take from a few seconds to two or three minutes, silently, in the background, with no need for repeated reboots etc. etc. etc. Modern printers and scanners are easily supported, and the major manufacturers all provide Linux drivers these days.

      Linux may become dominant in time, but only after a large enough body of day to day users has become established for the word to spread. And M$ have lost their stranglehold on the supply chain, where they continue to push out a seriously unsatisfactory OS on new hardware that, more often than not, customers really do not need. Sad.

      1. jgarbo
        Linux

        Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

        Been using Linux since 1995, when it was "difficult" but obviously the way forward. Now it's almost too easy. Install it on small biz operations, no problems, charge (modestly) for maintenance. Why is anyone, except specialists, still using Win? Of course, the Legacy Fear and enforced ignorance of a "free so must be crap" system that in practice is far superior. Sad.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft is giving people some extra time...

        "Yes, people are now switching to Linux, but still in relatively small numbers."

        Just like a few people purchased Reliant Robins?

  3. Tomato42 Silver badge

    WinXP

    Windows XP continued to quietly receive fixes-for-a-fee for some time

    why the past tense? Embedded version of Win XP has support still, it ends in next year.

    1. Z80
      Trollface

      Re: WinXP

      If you're keen on accuracy, you probably should have referred to the supported OS by its correct name - Windows Embedded POSReady 2009.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Windows Embedded POSReady 2009.

        I wonder when the new version will be referred to as Windows 10 POS.

        (By Microsoft themselves, just to clarify).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          windows 10 is a Piece Of Sh*t

          hence why POS may be omitted in titles to reduce dedancy, here atleast

  4. colin79666
    FAIL

    Education

    Hmm 30 months of support sounds like an improvement but still falls a bit short, especially for Education. By the time they have updated SCCM (plus a hotfix), the ADK and MDT you typically have already lost 3 months.

    Also Education is difficult to tackle due to the number of sites (schools) and sheer numbers so the reality is mass imaging/feature updating is a summer holiday event. So by the time you are rolling out a "September" update you are already into 9-11 months of the 30 month support window. 30 months doesn't reach for another 2 summers so you are basically still stuck on a 1 year cycle of updating/imaging/replacing.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Education

      The minimum LTS support period should be 4-5 years from release. Any releases between LTS releases should be considered betaish; release that are ready for use but have some features that could be considered bleeding edge. These features will often find their way into the LTS but after they have been in the wild. But there would be no forced migration from LTS to the intermediate releases. Essentially look at the Ubuntu release model of LTS every 2 years (supported for 5 years) and semi-annual non-LTS releases which users usually skip.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Education

        "The minimum LTS support period should be 4-5 years"

        It is but Office is not supported on LTSB and the latest Office versions wont run at all.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Education

          It is but Office is not supported on LTSB and the latest Office versions wont run at all.

          That's not a flaw, that's a bonus.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Divorcing Microsoft

    Because of the 2020 deadline I've been doing experiments.... I work mostly with air-gapped Win7 boxes and Linux-Mint internet facing boxes. So for my needs Libre-Office is fine (although I also have Office-2000 with the compatibility pack lying around for reading docx / xlsx). However in my home others need access to Office and the Ribbon because that's what they're comfortable with.

    I don't fancy a move to Office 365 / Win10 especially when I read that even Office 365 customers won't escape Win7's demise. The effort Microsoft is going to here... It feels like innovation has been totally replaced by a subscription upgrade boot stamping on a human face forever...

    Its especially true when I watch how those in my household actually use Office. They're using such basic aspects they could work fine with just Office-2000. That's the laughable part. Its the lack of any real new functionality in later versions of Office. So in light of that, I started to look around for Plan-B. Sharing here in case its of help / interest to anyone else...

    First I tried imaging by main Win7 production machines. However, they're based on EFI / UEFI. I can image them ok (disk2vhd), but I can't get a single one to boot. So I tried an older 32-Bit Win7 laptop. I've now gotten Win7 running in VirtualBox (Oracle) on Linux-Mint. The VM runs fine and has the newer Office to solve the ribbon issue. On boot there is an 'Activation Expiry' warning screen, but the OS never expires.

    I tried doing the same thing with a couple of XP machines that I want to keep around, but no luck. Just to boot you have to opt for safemode, and then you've no proper access to hardware etc, so its not viable. BTW: None of the documented XP activation reg key tweaks helped.

    So why was Win7 easier?

    Not sure... Its an older machine and its not had many official updates or changes to the OS over time. All extraneous Services and Scheduled Tasks and Updaters were halted long ago. But which sub-system is directly responsible for the activation countdown? ... I'm thinking if updates had been applied it may have been far harder to have gotten this working so easily...

    I know it works though as the Win7 drive was inserted into another machine 3 years ago and the OS has never expired. So I can keep this Win7 VM around indefinitely and run it under Mint just fine. I still want my family to adopt Linux and FOSS though, as my work is heavily based off open-source. So this is just a stop gap.... One I wish wasn't necessary. But its a better option than Win10 will ever provide!

    Dear folks @ Redmond. I wouldn't be going to all this trouble if you weren't basically embedding Facebook + Google like privacy-raping at OS level and then lying about it (see what MS Chairmen thinks MS do with user data). This aspect, along with forced updates and treating regular windows users as test tube dummies is UNACCEPTABLE!

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Divorcing Microsoft

      "So for my needs Libre-Office is fine (although I also have Office-2000 with the compatibility pack lying around for reading docx / xlsx). However in my home others need access to Office and the Ribbon because that's what they're comfortable with."

      How old is your LO? I've not come across any docx/xslx LO can't read and the later versions also have the optional ribbon interface although it's currently labelled experimental. As I have no familiarity with the MS product I don't know how closely the LO ribbon mimics it but I really found no trouble moving between Office 95 or whatever and OO in the old days.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Divorcing Microsoft

      First I tried imaging by main Win7 production machines. However, they're based on EFI / UEFI. I can image them ok (disk2vhd), but I can't get a single one to boot. So I tried an older 32-Bit Win7 laptop. I've now gotten Win7 running in VirtualBox (Oracle) on Linux-Mint. The VM runs fine and has the newer Office to solve the ribbon issue. On boot there is an 'Activation Expiry' warning screen, but the OS never expires.

      I tried doing the same thing with a couple of XP machines that I want to keep around, but no luck. Just to boot you have to opt for safemode, and then you've no proper access to hardware etc, so its not viable. BTW: None of the documented XP activation reg key tweaks helped.

      So why was Win7 easier?

      Windows 7 has an implementation of the incomplete windows to go feature, where you could change hardware with nearly everything intact (It's called sysprep). If you used it before transferring, it will avoid most hardware issue. If not, it will still try to work it out as much as it could.

      Windows xp on the other hand do not have that feature. This is what made Windows 7 transfer easier.

      As for Windows 7 license activation, the license activation will be lost when you change too much hardware. In that case of a VM, that is completely different hardware so it is expected that the license will be lost. This applies to all programs with hardware lock license. However if your license is a retail or volume license, you could consider reactivate the license. If not, you could consider purchasing or getting a retail or volume license to reactivate windows.

      If you still want to transfer the windows xp and get it working, then you should read on this to get it ready for moving.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Divorcing Microsoft

      "It feels like innovation has been totally replaced by a subscription upgrade boot stamping on a human face forever..."

      Because it has. MS is taking us back to the terminal/mainframe systems as fast as it can.

    4. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Divorcing Microsoft

      privacy-raping at OS level

      Having just acquired a new Windows 10 laptop (on which Windows 7 won't easily run), it's the bloody patronising advertising that I find most annoying - "helpful" suggestions, presumably paid for, turning up in the start menu for software I don't want & blandishments about registering for "Microsoft Rewards" on the lock screen. These can all be turned off, with a myriad of different controls in different places, though the control to disable Cortana is now gone (apart from the registry hack). Except the day after I did, the major update to the factory image finally downloaded, occupied a vast amount of disk space and turned back on everything I'd turned off.

      It's not an OS any longer - a way for you to run application software on your computer. It's a platform to allow application software to run you, once you've been beaten into dumbed-down submission. I don't want it. Nobody over the age of 12 could possibly want it.

      I'll also be moving to Windows 7 in a server VM for legacy applications and Linux on the laptop where RDP will offer the occasional backward glance.

      1. Sixtysix
        WTF?

        Re: Divorcing Microsoft

        Not only turns ON things you explicitly turned off, but REINSTALLS a whole pile of sh*t that I'd uninstalled, either directly (where allowed) or via powershell where not obvious.

        I do not want crap "games", XBOX, Groove and other crap taking over my boot disk thank you.

        Grr.

    5. grumpy-old-person

      Re: Divorcing Microsoft

      FreeOffice is fine for most purposes if LibreOffice does not work for you.

      Try https://softlay.net/operating-system/windows-xp-sp3-iso-full-version-free-download.html for a version of XP SP3 - it runs on VirtualBox.

  6. ecarlseen

    Or, if your pockets are deep enough...

    Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB is the least obnoxious version, but you have to be on a volume license plan and stay on Software Assurance.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Or, if your pockets are deep enough...

      MS are onto you with that. We have LTSB (education) and are looking to the next version next year. Problem is, MS arent supporting office in the next LTSB (we roll new office when the OS changes). LTSB is a 5 year cycle - which is about right for us.

    2. Carl D

      Re: Or, if your pockets are deep enough...

      "Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB is the least obnoxious version"

      Actually, I am running a little experiment at the moment. I have Windows 10 Home on my main PC in a dual boot with Windows 7. Windows 10 is installed second so it can be removed if necessary without affecting my Windows 7 install.

      When installing Windows 10 Home here's what I did:

      1. Made sure there is no Internet connection during the install. Then, after the install is finished, turn off and remove all of the live and other tiles on the Start Menu (I have no use for tiles, thank you). By doing this, I have no Candy Crush, March of Empires, Disney Magic Kingdoms, etc. They don't even appear after running Windows Update. Then I adjusted all of Windows 10's privacy settings, etc. before connecting to the Internet.

      2. Removed most of the other 'bloat' (XBox, Skype, OneDrive, etc.). I use the Tools option of CCleaner to do this.

      3. After running Windows Update, I use O&O's ShutUp10 to 'tame' W10's privacy and other settings even further than the ones that come with W10. I especially like the way it shuts up Cortana and turns it back into an ordinary search function like in previous Windows versions.

      3. Used a little utility called Windows Update Blocker to make sure Microsoft doesn't download and install updates when you're not expecting it. This utility stops Microsoft from switching Windows Update and other related services back on again after you disable them (I just love the way MS 'magically' changes the Windows Update service from Disabled to Manual in W10 when it feels like it - "never mind what the Windows user wants, we'll do what we like"). Malware and virus writers would be proud of the work MS has put into this.

      After doing all this, I have a Windows 10 Home Edition that's been running solidly for a few weeks without 90% of the 'bloat' and no forced updates (so far, at least). But, I'm sure it won't last. Pity MS doesn't put as much effort into the quality of their updates these days as they seem to do into finding ways to stop W10 users (especially Home Edition) running the operating system the way the USER wants.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Or, if your pockets are deep enough...

        there are many powershell scripts that remove the provisioned apps. give them a go.

  7. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Terminator

    Pay You Will

    Perhaps you think, you're being treated unfairly?

    --Darth Redmond

  8. tcmonkey
    Joke

    Stop me if you've heard this one before...

    A support deadline walks into a bar...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stop me if you've heard this one before...

      and became a support dead-curve

    2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: A support deadline walks into a bar...

      I wonder what the reaction would be if Wetherspoons rebranded all their pubs as Ribbons, and they got rid of their Menus.

      ...and made it so that you couldn't see the top part of their TV screens.

      1. Sixtysix
        Pint

        "rebranded all their pubs as Ribbons"

        The Ribbon. Bane of my life on a laptop.

        Too little vertical estate, SO MUCH horizontal space... can I sling the ribbon onto the side?

        Of COURSE NOT - THAT WOULD BE SENSIBLE.

  9. tekHedd

    "enterprise and education customers"

    I don't run windows a lot, maybe every week or three, and it seems like every time I launch Windows 10 the user interface has changed completely.

    I guess it's a moot point now. I wiped my last Win10 box in favor of Mint last week. :P

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    From Microsoft's point of view they're just converting W7 from a one-off purchase to a one-off purchase and a subscription. They should be happy to continue indefinitely providing the subs provide a suitable margin over the costs.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      I would consider 'Windows 9'

      if Micro-shaft would evar create it. It'd have to be 7-like in appearance and everything else (i.e. 3D Skeuomorphic, no spyware, no adware, no 'app store', no cloudy logon, NO FORCED UPDATES), with the updated kernel etc similar to 10.

      But please no "you must have micro-shaft sign the kernel drivers" requirement. that's just wrong...

      (yeah fat chance Micro-shaft would CARE ABOUT CUSTOMERS enough to DO that)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I would consider 'Windows 9'

        they already HAVE that version, its called LTSB.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: I would consider 'Windows 9'

          But it's completely and utterly impossible to purchase the LTSB version.

          You have to subscribe to a few hundred copies for the next several years.

          So for the vast majority of users, it doesn't exist.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: I would consider 'Windows 9'

        Why bother at all? Win 10 is absolute shit. I've now deployed hundreds at the corporate level, and creating the image alone just about drove our team 'round the bend.

        Then there are the infinite updates. I'm not even exaggerating. We had the latest version and the updates never stopped day after day after day after day, long AFTER we had already deployed them.

        People were literally losing serious hours to updates and it was having a crippling effect on productivity.

        Fuck Win 10.

        1. Sixtysix

          Re: I would consider 'Windows 9'

          Oh joy - you mean the lack of control over updates persists in Enterprise versions?

          Better warn the team...

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: I would consider 'Windows 9'

            to be fair, this article is not really concerning home users and is a VL announcement. That pretty much puts it in the ballpark of people with access to LTSB.

            As for home, its a designated work machine so LTSB there too.....

  11. shaunhw

    @bombastic bob

    "But please no "you must have micro-shaft sign the kernel drivers" requirement. that's just wrong..."

    Silly as it might seem you still can run newer third party signed drivers, if you turn off Secure Boot on Windows 10.

    As far as drivers are concerned the user ought to have the choice to allow trust.

    Secure boot ought to also have the option to set user trust on one of its components without affecting the checks on others. You set the BIOS up manually to say "I trust this" and that should be enough. That would allow small third party devs back in.

    But it's all for your own good you know!

    But they keep on breaking things on these feature updates. On my Surface pro 4 the touch interface has become lousy since 1803 - Half the time you can't touch to set the carat in an edit box on some W32 apps.

    Then if you press the button, to get the lock screen on, and go back in straight away it works for a short while. Then it happens again. Initially I rolled back to 1709 and all was well again. Then I tried the update again and it seemed like they'd fixed it at first, but I wasn't using the thing much, and the time expired so I am stuck on it. They hadn't fixed it at all. Just the same. Maybe they want to buy a new one ? It wouldn't be one of theirs that's for sure.

    All this from the company who seems to want to tell the world how software should be written. The words "practice" and "preach" come to mind. They can't even seem to test their stuff properly on their own devices they make.

    Please check things in touch mode on your OWN devices Microsoft. Try using yourselves what you have created. It really might help!

  12. Carl D

    Considering the quality of the so called support customers have been receiving from Microsoft over the past few years (especially since the beginning of this year) with it's seemingly endless parade of faulty patches - a lot of which I am sure was deliberate, especially for Windows 7, I think we'd be better off without any form of extended "support", thank you.

    I think Microsoft should start paying us for the "privilege" of using their "support", not the other way around.

  13. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    Some grounds for optimism?

    Maybe we can have a referendum on Windows 10 and ALL go back to Windows 7.

  14. sikejsudjek

    Moved back to windows 7 for gaming from 10. Better fps.

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      "Moved back to windows 7 for gaming from 10. Better fps."

      Only if you don't have a Direct-X 12 GPU. Plenty of benchmarks showing that Windows 10 is faster for recent games / GPUs. That's why most Steam users are on Windows 10.

  15. Citizen99
    Linux

    Another 'gotcha'

    (Although I am not a volume customer, just a retired user), only yesterday I fired up my 'canary in the coal-mine' Win7pro virtual machine.

    The CDROM drive disappeared - driver fault - after catching up on the Windows updates.

    Guess what happened next ?

    Windows then reported that it needed to be re-activated due to a detected hardware change.

    Not a problem operationally, as I had a known-good backup saved before recent updates.

    No more updates will be allowed, ever. (I only use my VMs as test-beds or where a program won't run on Wine).

    And where I can use an XP VM, I do that as it is less harassed ...

  16. Craigie

    Choice?

    Surely there should be two major and supported versions of Windows at any one time?

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Choice?

      That might be nice, but why "should"?

  17. ThatOne Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Windows, we hardly knew you

    I've been using Microsoft OSes since DOS 2 - But not any more. I definitely understand the need to make money and thus for me to pay, but I do expect value for my money, and unfortunately Windows has been steadily devolving as a platform upon which to run my production and leisure software. Since XP they increasingly removed ease of use, functionality, restrained user customization and added self-serving "features" nobody wanted, especially on a work platform.

    Windows devolved from something which you could adapt to your needs to some undisciplined and oversimplified one-size-fits-all freemium trap. Sorry, I don't need that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows, we hardly knew you

      "Windows devolved from something which you could adapt to your needs to some undisciplined and oversimplified one-size-fits-all freemium trap. Sorry, I don't need that."

      I might tolerate it if they did have a freemium model, but it's more of a "paymeum and then paymemorium" model.

  18. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    The Wonderful Future Microsoft Has Planned

    .....doesn't include efficient, stable, workable solutions for all applications for all users so much as a 12 month subscription for everything and anything and the abuses all monopolies bring.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem

    Not everyone can run 10. Three of my machines are still incompatible either due to low RAM (4GB) or non 64 bit CPU. Turns out VT-x support works but not always and when it does not it can be a bear to fix.

    The main one I use for amateur radio is a 32 bit Atom because it is *very* low RF noise, limited CPU is less of a problem if running 7 Starter and the 64 bit netbook has "issues" so is DOA for now.

    Interesting hack I found: many "cheap" laptops will run 4GB if you feed them a custom BIOS.

    I think its disabled because the CPU can't fully address it though in some cases 3GB will work and the rest is allocated "just" for graphics leaving 512MB unused and it will fly with a cheap 120GB SSD.

    Handy though as these are ten a penny now and often appear at swap meets minus HDD.

    What about Windows 7 AE (amateur edition) ? Non Internet enabled embedded only.

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