How to get Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows Server

Extended Security Updates (ESU) for Windows Server include security updates and bulletins rated critical and important. Before using Extended Security Updates, you should read Extended Security Updates for Windows Server Overview to understand what Extended Security Updates are, how long they are available for, and what your options are.

How you get Extended Security Updates depends on where your server is hosted. Applicable virtual machines (VMs) hosted in Azure are automatically enabled for Extended Security Updates and these updates are provided free of charge.

For other environments, such as on-premises VMs or physical servers, you need to manually request and configure Extended Security Updates. You can purchase Extended Security Updates through Volume Licensing Programs such as Enterprise Agreement (EA), Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS), Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES), or Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE).

To use Extended Security Updates on non-Azure VMs, you create a Multiple Activation Key (MAK) and apply it to the relevant servers running Windows Server. This MAK key lets the Windows Update servers know that you can continue to receive security updates.

Azure virtual machines

Applicable virtual machines (VMs) hosted in Azure are automatically enabled for Extended Security Updates and these updates are provided free of charge. You don't need to configure anything, and there's no additional charge for using Extended Security Updates with Azure VMs. Extended Security Updates are automatically delivered to Azure VMs if they're configured to receive updates.

Note

Azure Classic VMs (Microsoft.ClassicCompute) require additional configuration to receive Extended Security Updates since they don't have access to the Azure Instance Metadata Service that determines Extended Security Updates eligibility. Please contact Microsoft Support for more help with this.

Register for Extended Security Updates for non-Azure servers and obtain your Multiple Activation Key

Once you've purchased Extended Security Updates, you first need to register your purchase in the Azure portal to get your Multiple Activation Key. You register for Extended Security Updates using the Azure portal, even if you only use on-premises computers.

Note

You don't need to register for Extended Security Updates if you're running Windows Server on Azure VMs as these are provided by default and at no cost. For other environments, such as on-premises VMs or physical servers, purchase Extended Security Updates before you try to register and use them.

To register your server for Extended Security Updates and create a key, open the Azure portal and follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to the Azure portal.

  2. In the search box at the top of the Azure portal, search for and select Extended Security Updates.

    Search for Extended Security Updates in the Azure Portal

    If you haven't used Extended Security Updates before, select + Create to create an Extended Security Updates resource first. Otherwise, select your resource from the list.

  3. Under Register for Extended Service Updates, select Get started.

    Get started with Extended Security Updates in the Azure Portal

  4. To create your first key, select Get key.

    Choose to create a key in the Azure Portal

    You need an Azure subscription associated with your account to create the Extended Security Update resource and key. If you don't have an Azure subscription associated with your account, sign in with a different user account or create an Azure subscription in the Azure portal.

    Your Azure subscription must also be assigned the Contributor role for the security update to work. To check your role, enter "Subscriptions" into the search box. You'll see a table that will show you your role next to your subscription ID and name.

    If you aren't a Contributor, you can ask the subscription owner to change your role. To find out who owns your subscription, go to the role table described in the previous paragraph and select your subscription's name. Next, go to the menu on the left side of the page and select Access control (IAM) > Role assignments and look for the Owners section in the table.

  5. If you see a page titled Register to get a Multiple Activation Key, that means you need to request access to the preview before you can use Extended Security Updates. If you don't see this page, skip ahead to step 6.

    To request access, select join the preview. An email message window will open. This email is your access request to the Microsoft team.

    Include the following information in your request:

    • Customer name
    • Azure subscription ID
    • Agreement number (for ESU)
    • Number of ESU servers

    When you're done, send the email.

    The team will review the information you provide in your request email. If everything looks okay, they'll add you to the approved list.

    If the team doesn't approve your request, you'll see the following error:

    The resource type could not be found in the namespace 'Microsoft.WindowsESU'
    
  6. Under Azure details, select your Azure subscription, a resource group, and location for your key.

    Under Registration details, enter the following information:

    Setting Value
    Key name A display name for your key, such Agreement01.
    Agreement number Your agreement number generated by the volume licensing contract management system, or MSLicense for Enterprise Agreement programs.
    Number of computers Choose the number of computers on which you want to install Extended Security Updates with this key.
    Operating system Choose the operating system to use this key with, such as Windows Server 2008 R2.

    When ready, select Review + register.

    Note

    Make sure you've selected the Azure subscription that you joined the preview with in your global filter. Select the Filter button in the Azure Portal ribbon to check your global subscription filter.

    An image of the Azure Portal ribbon with the Filter button selected

  7. After successful validation, a summary of your choices for the new registry resource is shown. If needed, correct any validation errors or update your configuration choices. The Azure Terms of Use and Privacy Policy are available.

    Check the box to confirm that you have eligible computers and the key is only to be used within your organization:

    Confirm that the key will only be used by your organization

    When ready, select Create to generate the Multiple Activation Key.

Extended Security Updates registration is now available for use with your servers. The key created should be applied to Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 servers that you wish to remain eligible for security updates.

Access your Multiple Activation Key from the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center

After you've successfully registered and generated your Multiple Activation Key, you can also can use the Volume Licensing Service Center to view and download your key.

To get your key from the Volume Licensing Service Center:

  1. Go to the Volume Licensing Service Center page and sign in with your Azure credentials.

  2. Select Licenses > Relationship Summary > Licensing ID > Product Keys.

Download and apply Extended Security Updates

Delivery, download, and application of Extended Security Updates for Windows Server is no different than other Windows Updates. The updates provided through Extended Security Updates are only Security updates.

You can install the updates using whatever tools and processes you already have in place. The only difference is that the system must be registered using the key generated in the previous section for the updates to download and install.

For VMs hosted in Azure, the process of enabling the server for Extended Security Updates is automatically completed for you. Updates should download and install without additional configuration.

To learn more about how to get Extended Security Updates for eligible Windows devices, see our Tech Community blog post Obtaining Extended Security Updates for eligible Windows devices.