Do you still have a few machines in your company that are running Windows 7? If so, be aware that Microsoft is formally ending Windows 7 support in a matter of weeks.

January 14, 2020 is the end of the line. After that, you will have the option to pay for extended security updates for up to three additional years. That will see you through to January 2023, but there are a couple of catches and caveats.

Initially, Microsoft extended the offer of Windows 7 security updates to large companies only. They received volume discounts on Windows 7 licensing. Earlier this year though, in October 2019, the company changed course and made the same offer to small business owners, including sole proprietors, which at least, is good news.

It isn't, and here's why: If you got a volume discount on your Windows 7 licenses, Microsoft makes it quick, easy and painless to purchase your ESUs. If your business is small enough that you didn't qualify for volume discounts, you have to get yours from one of Microsoft's Cloud Solution Provider partners, which sounds simple, but isn't.

You'll find that you have to jump through a number of hoops, fill out online forms, wait for a response, then jump through even more hoops. The process can be intensely frustrating. When you select which Cloud Solution Provider partners you want to work with, the most common reply you'll get back from the automated system is that the partner you selected is "unavailable." No reason will be given. It's just a cryptic, one-word response.

If, eventually, you find a partner that is available, rather than simply being able to click a button and pay for your EUSs, you'll have to get on the phone and jump through even more hoops to actually get signed up for extended security updates. If you'd rather avoid those hassles, the time to upgrade away from Windows 7 is now.

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