It’s not too late to get an Extended Security Update license for Windows 7

Every business — even a business of one — qualifies to put Extended Security Update patches on a “genuine” Win7 Pro or Ultimate machine. It costs less than $70 and, thanks to a benevolent official Microsoft CSP, it’s not incredibly difficult to install.

hand at keyboard with Windows logo

Worried about the future of your Win7 machine? Welcome to the family.

Right now, we have a promise that Microsoft will fix the “Stretch” wallpaper bug it rolled out last month, and there’s some hope that it will fix the Internet Explorer JScript engine security hole CVE-2020-0674 noted last month in Security Advisory ADV200001. We don’t know how/when the fix(es) will be distributed, or if Microsoft will soften its “no free Win7 patches after January 14” edict in some other way.

Other than that, Win7 customers are on their own — you either pay for a year of Extended Support, get your machine locked down and pray for Microsoft’s largess, or just throw the old doorstop away.

In December, Gregg Keizer wrote about the alternative — buy an Extended Security Update license from a cloud service provider. Just one little problem: CSPs aren’t set up to sell licenses by the ones and twos. It’s a manually intensive process that simply doesn’t pay for the effort.

One CSP I know has risen to the occasion, offering to get licenses for small businesses, even businesses with just one PC. Amy Babinchak, who owns Harbor Computer Services, puts it this way: “We want to make it as easy as possible for as many businesses as possible to continue receiving Windows 7 patches. It’s a manual process, so expect some delays, but we’ll try our best to get every machine with a valid Win7 Pro or Ultimate license hooked into the Extended Security Update system.”

Patch Lady Susan Bradley has been following the procedure intently and offers these tips:

  1. You have to have a valid Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate license. No pirated keys allowed.
  2. If you have an unused Win7 Pro key, but are still running Win7 Home, you can still use Windows Anytime Upgrade to move from Home to Pro. (Click Start, type Anytime Upgrade. When you get to the screen that asks if you have a key, enter it. Be patient .. the upgrade can take HOURS depending on the speed of the computer. Once the PC’s rebooted, activate the key in the system section.)
  3. The free upgrade from Win7 to 10 still works. Is it legal? Probably not. But Microsoft is totally ignoring that and letting the machines activate.
  4. Can you still buy a Win7 license if you don’t have a new one? Yes, but man it’s hard to ensure that you are buying it from a reputable place online. Everything looks a bit scammy to me.  And certainly don’t buy it from an ebay vendor. There are a few on Amazon that look okay and not too scammy, but be careful. If it’s too good to be true or too cheap to be a proper license, it’s probably not one.

If your system’s up to it, and you don’t mind parting with $70 or so, you can fill out Harbor Computer Services’ License Request and Payment form, and give it a whirl. As Bradley notes:

A healthy Win7 machine should have no problem installing the ESU key and activating it.  A not so healthy one … you may have to manually install missing updates and run the Windows update troubleshooter to get it to a healthy condition.

The first Extended Security Update should arrive next Tuesday, although we don’t have an official announcement just yet. Now would be a good time to fill out the form, if you want to keep your "genuine" Win7 Pro or Ultimate machine officially patched.

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