Microsoft extends Windows 7 updates to 2020 for election systems

Microsoft announced today that it will provide free extended Windows 7 support for election systems in 2020. The move will ensure that these systems are protected against major security issues after the end of Windows 7 on January 14 when the US enters into an election year.

"At the start of the 2020 elections, we know there is a relatively small, but still significant, number of certified voting machines running on Windows 7," Microsoft said in a blog post announcing the plan. "We also know that the transition to machines with newer operating systems may not be possible in time for the 2020 elections for a number of reasons, including the lengthy certification process for voting machines – a process that we work with government officials to update and be more flexible to make ."

Microsoft says that the extension, part of the larger "Defending Democracy Program", will offer free updates for "federally certified voting systems with Windows 7" by the end of 2020. This applies to both the US and "other democratic countries, as defined" by the EIU Democracy Index. "

In addition to extending security updates, Microsoft plans to provide assistance to election systems that rely on Azure. "We also announce today that, as part of the Defending Democracy Program, we are proactively identifying and engaging election agencies that are Microsoft Azure customers to provide guidance and technical assistance on using the most advanced security features in Azure."

From January 14, 2020, Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates. Companies using Windows 7 can pay for comprehensive security updates, but Microsoft is urging all users to upgrade to Windows 10. Nevertheless, an external security group announced its intention to deliver unofficial micropatches for Windows 7 machines after the end of -live date.

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