FAQ: Last-minute answers about Windows 7's post-retirement patches

The end of support for Windows 7 is coming up fast. For those still running the aging OS, here's what you need to know about Microsoft's Extended Security Updates program.

Windows logo overlaying hand with band-aid patch
Thinkstock/Microsoft

A week from now, Microsoft will serve customers with the last for-free Windows 7 security update, in effect retiring the 2009 operating system.

However, hundreds of millions of personal computers will still power up thanks to Windows 7 on Jan. 14, and for an indeterminate timespan after that date. Windows 7 may be retiring, but it's not disappearing.

Microsoft admitted as much more than a year ago when it announced Extended Security Updates (ESU), a program for commercial customers who needed more time to ditch Windows 7. ESU would provide patches for some security vulnerabilities for as long as three years. For a fee.

Later — just this October — Microsoft expanded ESU to include small and very small businesses, but told those customers, who typically needed to keep just a handful of PCs updated, to contact a Cloud Service Provider (CSP).

Computerworld has covered ESU since its September 2018 unveiling. But there are always bits and pieces that don't get the attention they deserve. So, we've collected the most important last-minute questions about ESU, and provided answers to those queries.

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