After announcing important changes to the Office 365 Pro Plus and Windows lifecycle for businesses back in February, Microsoft again today revisited the topic. The firm has now backtracked on their original promises and will be extending the support cycle for businesses running Office, Windows 7, and Windows 10 to help them "shift to a modern desktop." Please keep in mind these changes are only for businesses, and the standard 18-month support period of Microsoft's consumer-facing products are not otherwise impacted.
First off are the longer Windows 10 support periods for Windows 10 Education and Enterprise. Customers running these flavors of Windows will now find 30 months of support for Windows 10 version 1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803. Additionally, starting with Windows 10 Version 1809, any Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions with a release month of September will get support for 30 months. And finally, starting with Windows 10 Education and Enterprise version 1903 (with a March release date,) will see support for 18 months from release. The graphic below summarizes the September 2018 changes quite nicely for you non-technical folks.
Secondly, Microsoft will continue to support Office 365 Pro Plus on Windows 8.1 through January 2023. The company will also continue to support Office 365 Pro Plus on Windows Server 2016 through October 2025. There are even changes for Office 2016, with the connectivity support to Office 365 now getting support through October 2023 instead of October 2020.
Microsoft is also announcing changes to Windows 7, now offering paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January of 2023, beyond 2020. The ESUs continue to be available for Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing, and there will be a discount for those with Windows software assurance. This also means that Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on those devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023.
As part of helping businesses upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft announced cloud-based analytics tools. The first one is called Desktop Analytics and it is integrated into ConfigMgr, Microsoft says this tool will create an inventory of apps running in any organization and access app compatibility with the latest versions of Windows 10 and Office 365 Pro Plus. Also announced was Desktop App Asure, which scans a system after a Windows 10 Upgrade and helps address issues with program compatibility.
All of these changes come as Microsoft wants to help businesses ease their transition over to Windows 10. The company realizes that the process is much more complicated than it seems, and came to this decision based on feedback. As Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing explained: "We recognize that it takes time to both upgrade devices and operationalize new update processes. We know that there is still a lot of work to do. But we’re committed to working with you and systematically resolving any issues."