IT administrators who have opted for extended support for Windows 7 by subscribing to Extended Security Updates have discovered the requirement to download a preparation package to claim access to the updates.
Last week, Microsoft added a last-minute condition to its Windows 7 Post-Support Assistance program, advising IT administrators to install the package called “Extended Security Updates Licensing Preparation Package” with part number KB4538483, according to Microsoft’s format, before they can download the fixes they have already paid for.
The package can be downloaded manually from the Microsoft Update Catalog. It should also be visible in Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), the patch management platform used by many commercial customers. But it won’t automatically be delivered by the Windows Update service, which most very small businesses rely on for their fixes.
A cumbersome and impromptu process
However, it is above all the cumbersome nature of this preliminary process imposed by Microsoft to meet this last-minute requirement, which may upset the administrators. “So we need to deploy the license prep package, reboot, check for and install updates, and reboot again?” Asked a person identified by his first name (Eric) on Twitter. (He claims he administers more than 15,000 Windows clients at a Cincinnati company). “That’s right,” the Windows Update Twitter account responded. If administrators don’t deploy the KB4538483 package, PCs running Windows 7 – which had been prepared to receive the first post-support Extended Security Updates (ESUs) available since Tuesday, February 11 – won’t be able to get them.
While Microsoft has communicated extensively this month about preparing to launch ESUs, the company has never raised this last-minute requirement. She gave instructions on how to obtain Extended Security Updates and how to prepare Windows 7 systems to receive these fixes without ever mentioning this KB4538483 package. While the latter was already in the update catalog and Microsoft listed all the steps, the notification of this prerequisite was largely ignored. No wonder the information took administrators by surprise. “The news has been a big shock to small businesses,” said Susan Bradley, IT security and networking consultant, PatchManagement.org mailing list moderator and contributor – under the nickname “The Patch Lady” – of the Windows Consulting site. AskWoody.com.
Small businesses lost
Susan Bradley took a keen interest in how small businesses could acquire ESUs in the months leading up to the program’s launch. “I had to personally help several of my clients purchase these keys. I thought they were all ready. I had to contact them, install them remotely on their computer and install this last minute update knowing that they wouldn’t know how to get the patch, nor exactly how to install it, since they are not used to it. to use the Microsoft catalog site, ”she said. Susan Bradley, like many others, had no idea why Microsoft imposed this impromptu procedure on ESU customers. “It doesn’t look like a normal maintenance patch,” she noted. After further investigation, Susan Bradley speculated that KB4538483 was “related to the license”. Sort of.
Our colleagues at Computerworld asked Microsoft to explain “the sudden need for this KB4538483 pack” and if “Microsoft had forgotten something”. In response, the company stated that “The Extended Security Updates (ESU) License Preparation Packages (KB 4538483 & KB4538484) addressed license activation needs, identified during our testing and evaluation with a large population of pilot customers ”. One way to answer and not to answer questions, as they often do. “These ESU license preparation packages delivered on February 11, 2020 are intended to provide a consistent user experience, reduce the number of package installations, and minimize overall disruption to customers.”
So more disruption now so that there is less later? “Normally, the idea of paid security patches was to make it easier to install patches for customers who will continue to use Windows 7, not to make it difficult to apply updates,” Bradley said.