Someone discovered a way to enable Extended Security Updates on all machines running Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system.
Small businesses pay Microsoft up to $200 per device and year for extended support, Enterprises up to $200 per user and year. The support program is available already and there are prerequisites that need to be met.
Microsoft won't offer the Extended Security Updates program to Home users even though some would pay Microsoft to extend support for Windows 7. Home users may get some security patches created by third-party company 0Patch, but support will be limited and not as extensive -- likely -- as what Microsoft pushes out via the Extended Security Updates program.
Note: Microsoft released a test update that administrators may attempt to download and install to verify that the device is eligible for Extended Security Updates. This, and other parameters, may change before the program starts officially in January 2020. Creating backups is highly recommended.
Devices or users that participate in the Extended Security Updates program need to install an update that verifies eligibility to receive updates after January 14, 2020. Extended Security Updates must be installed online on live systems; they cannot be integrated or installed offline, at least not right now.
Users on the My Digital Life forum discovered a way to bypass the Extended Security Updates check. The bypass works with Microsoft's test update but it is unclear if it will also work with "real" updates that the company releases after the January 2020 Patch Day.
All that needs to be done currently is to download a small archive from the My Digital Life forum and extract it. The package includes two batch files that enable or disable the bypass on the system, executable files, and the source.
Basically, what happens behind the scene is that verification checks return true all the time through manipulation of these checks.
One interesting aspect of the hack is that it enables support for all Windows 7 editions, even those that Microsoft does not want to support after January 14, 2020. In other words: Windows 7 Home, Starter or Ultimate editions would be able to receive updates provided by the Extended Security Updates program when the bypass is installed.
The developers plan already to extend support to Windows Vista and to support the POSReady 7 SKU which will receive security updates until 2024.