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Microsoft is dangling three years of additional support in front of customers running Windows Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 if they move the servers’ workloads to Redmond’s cloud-based Azure.

SQL Server 2008 — and its follow-up, SQL Server 2008 R2 — exit support July 9, 2019, or less than a year from now. Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 will be retired from support about six months later, on Jan. 14, 2020. After those dates, the server software will not receive security updates, leaving them vulnerable to attack by hackers exploiting unpatched security flaws.

In an effort to entice customers to move to the cloud, Microsoft last week said it will provide three additional years of support to Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 when those systems’ workloads are migrated to Azure virtual machines or Azure SQL Database Managed Instance, respectively. (The latter is a new service set to debut in the fourth quarter.) Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 workloads transferred to Azure will receive fixes for vulnerabilities rated “Critical” or “Important,” until January 2023; SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will get the patches for bugs designated as “Critical,” with the end of extra support coming in July 2022.

The servers migrated to Azure must be covered by Software Assurance to be eligible for the three free years of support.

This new scheme – dubbed “Extended Security Updates” – replaces an earlier extra-support program Microsoft called “Premium Assurance” for Windows Server and SQL Server. The Redmond, Wash. company introduced Premium Assurance in December 2016 and began selling it three months later.

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Premium Assurance offered up to six years of additional support for a swath of Windows and SQL Server editions – not only the 2008 varieties – at prices of up to 12% of the current licensing cost per year. Premium Assurance was itself a replacement for the even earlier “Custom Support,” a highly individualistic program that extended support after the usual 10 years but was typically not publicly discussed in detail.



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