Clarifying Microsoft Lifecycle Policies as We Approach 2023 End of Support Dates

Makayla Mota

You may have seen that several Microsoft products are ending support in 2023, but what does that really mean? And what do you need to do to support your organization? First, let’s determine what “end of support” means. When Microsoft moves a product to end of support, or retires the service, it will no longer be updated with both security and non-security updates. Customers will be urged to migrate to the latest version of the product or service. Most Microsoft products and services follow a Fixed or Modern Lifecycle Policy. Let’s break down and demystify the differences between a Fixed and Modern Lifecycle Policy.

Fixed Lifecyle Policy

A Fixed Lifecycle Policy applies to a product that is either commercial or consumer and available through retail purchase and/or volume licensing. A Fixed Lifecycle Policy is just that—the lifecyle of the product has a fixed or defined support and services lifecycle from the time of launch. This entails a minimum of five years of Mainstream Support and an additional period (for some products) of Extended Support.
So, what are the differences between Mainstream and Extended Support? I am glad you asked. Mainstream Support is the first phase of support and includes incident support, security update support, and the ability to request non-security updates. Extended Support follows Mainstream Support and includes paid support and free security updates.

Another thing you may notice for products on a Fixed Lifecycle Policy is that the customer may be asked to deploy the latest Service Pack or update. A Service Pack is when Microsoft releases a combination of fixes and updates for recognized issues available in a single installation. Microsoft provides 12 or 24 months of support for the previous Service Pack when a new Service Pack is released, but when a Service Pack ends, no new security updates or other non-security updates will be available for that Service Pack. Customers are encouraged to stay on a fully supported Service Pack.

Modern Lifecycle Policy

A product or service under the Modern Lifecyle Policy will be serviced and supported continuously. The product or service will remain in support if the customer stays current per service and system requirements, customers are licensed to use the product or service, and Microsoft currently offers support for the product or service. Under this policy, the products and services are more likely to have change notifications, and Microsoft will alert customers a minimum of 30 days in advance if they need to take action.

Microsoft also has more information about product and services lifecycles.

What Are Some of the Products that Will Be Affected in 2023?

Windows 7

Windows 7 will reach its third year of Extended Security Support on January 10, 2023. What does this mean? Well, if you are still using Windows 7, you will need to upgrade. Microsoft recommends migrating to Windows 11 to avoid needing service or support that is no longer available. If your current device is not able to run Windows 11, Microsoft recommends upgrading your device or migrating to Windows 10 (while also keeping in mind that Windows 10 will reach end of support on October 14, 2025).

Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 will end support on January 10, 2023, and Extended Security Updates (ESU) will not be available. Microsoft 365 apps will no longer be supported on Windows 8.1, as it will no longer meet the requirements. Microsoft recommends that customers update devices to a more current operating system like Windows 11 or Windows 10. If your devices do not meet the requirements to run a more current version of Windows, Microsoft advises replacing the devices with those that support Windows 11.

Microsoft Office 2013

I previously wrote about the April 11, 2023, end of support date for Office 2013. If you are still running Office 2013, you will need to upgrade. Your Connection Account Team can help you to determine the best upgrade option for your organization:

  • Microsoft 365 Apps: The subscription version of Office that comes with many Microsoft 365 enterprise and business plans
  • Office LTSC 2021: Sold as a one-time purchase, through a volume license agreement and available for one computer per license
  • Office 2021: Available through traditional volume licensing programs with Software Assurance

SQL Server 2008

On July 11, 2023, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 will reach the end of its Extended Security Update. Customers are advised to migrate their digital estate to Azure SQL. Azure SQL can be serverless with no VM and uses the same engine as SQL on-premises. It expands from tables to Graph, JSON, and XML, making the transition smooth and seamless.

Now is the time to put a plan in place for your products that are approaching end of support. Still have questions or want to create a timeline? Reach out to your Connection Account Team for more information.

Makayla Mota is a Partner Marketing Specialist at Connection with a background in educational technology training on Microsoft solutions in the classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, antiquing, hiking, and watching movies.