Starting this March, Microsoft will start selling extended support for its Windows Server software. This is expected to lengthen the lifespan of Windows Server 2008 and later, as well as SQL Server 2008 and later by more than 6 years for corporate customers, such as IT support in Australia and other regions.
Premium Assurance Starts Rolling in March
The IT giant had announced this “Premium Assurance” in December, saying then that the extended support would be available for purchase by March 2017.
Under Premium Assurance, only vulnerabilities graded as “Critical” and “Important” will be patched. The extended support costs between 5% and 12% of the current licencing cost for each year of coverage, depending on when a customer commits. The sooner a plan is bought, the more affordable the price. This is the reason Windows 2008 users should purchase Premium Assurance as soon as possible.
If Premium Assurance for Windows Server Datacenter is purchased before the end of June, for example, the price would be approximately $31 per licence. But from July 2019 on, the cost would be $76 per licence, representing a 145% increase.
However, there are still challenges that abound. Only licences covered by Software Assurance – the annuity-like program Microsoft sells whose biggest benefit is an upgrade right – can have their support extended by Premium Assurance. And the additional 6 years must be added before the product reaches the end of its traditional decade of support. That means Premium Assurance for Windows Server 2008 must be purchased before Jan. 14, 2020.
However, You Must Purchase Premium Assurance to Cover All Servers
Also, said Microsoft, to buy Premium Assurance, the customer must purchase it for “all servers with active Software Assurance that were purchased using Enterprise Agreement (EA), Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS), Enrollment for Education Solutions, [or] Server and Cloud Enrollment.”
Support for Windows Server or SQL Server licences bought through licencing programs other than those four cannot be extended with Premium Assurance, Microsoft said.
Extended Support Is Meant to Boost Security and Compliance Requirements
In December 2016, Microsoft described the extended support option as a way for customers to “meet compliance requirements and ensure security on systems” they were not ready to upgrade to a newer Windows or SQL Server edition.
Yesterday, the explanation was slightly different from the recent statements. “These new offerings are designed to provide flexibility by enabling legacy applications to continue running without disruption as you modernize applications and infrastructure, or move to cloud,” read a post to a Microsoft blog.
Three months ago, analysts said that Premium Assurance was being offered to keep customers from jumping to rival server and database vendors when support for their Microsoft software ended.
Microsoft’s long-term goal, argued the IT experts, is to pull customers to Azure and to Microsoft Office 365, the company’s cloud-based services. “I see this as the first phase in a longer-term strategy to get people to move [server workloads] into the cloud,” said Dolores Ianni, research director at Gartner, said in a December interview.