Free Extended Security Updates (ESU) through Azure Stack HCI

Applies to: Azure Stack HCI, versions 22H2 and 21H2

The Extended Security Update (ESU) program enables you to get important security patches for legacy Microsoft products that are past the end of support. Getting ESU through Azure Stack HCI comes with additional benefits and implementation steps – this article explains the specifics for Azure Stack HCI.

To get general information about the ESU program, products that are covered, and support dates, see the Product Lifecycle FAQ.

Benefits of getting ESU for VMs on Azure Stack HCI

There are several advantages to getting ESU through Azure, which extend to Azure Stack HCI:

  • Free of charge: You can get ESUs through Azure Stack HCI for free.
  • Get an additional year of ESUs for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2: On Azure and Azure Stack HCI only, ESUs for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on January 14, 2024 and July 12, 2023 respectively; a year longer than the usual three-year ESU programs.

Tutorial: Get free ESUs through Azure Stack HCI

This tutorial walks you through how you can use Azure Benefits to automatically unlock free ESUs on Azure Stack HCI. Azure Benefits is a feature on Azure Stack HCI that enables you to extend supported Azure-exclusive benefits to your cluster, including getting ESUs for free.


The following screen capture shows typical output when checking for required prerequisites using PowerShell. Your actual output may look different; this is example output that shows installed prerequisites:

Screenshot that shows E S U prerequisites.

Step 1: Turn on Azure Benefits on the host

Follow these instructions to turn on Azure Benefits on the host:

Step 2: Turn on Azure Benefits on the VM

You must also turn on Azure Benefits on each VM that requires ESU. Follow these instructions:

Step 3: Install Extended Security Updates

Once Azure Benefits is set up, you can install free Extended Security Updates for eligible VMs on your cluster. Install updates using your current method of preference; for example, Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Microsoft Update Catalog, or other. The following screenshot shows installation of security updates using Windows Update:

Screenshot that shows the Control Panel.


Does my VM need to be connected to get ESUs?

No, you do not need internet connectivity to install ESUs, unless you are using an update method that requires internet connectivity to download ESU packages. Only the Azure Stack HCI host needs to maintain 30-day internet connectivity for Azure Benefits to remain active.

Can I still use MAK keys to get ESUs for VMs on Azure Stack HCI?

Yes. If you have already bought MAK keys, you can still apply them with the instructions outlined in Obtaining Extended Security Updates for eligible Windows devices. However, MAK keys are not free -- consider switching to the Azure Benefits approach so that you can automatically get free ESUs through your Azure Stack HCI cluster going forward.

Can I discover ESUs if I don't have Azure Benefits?

Yes. You can discover ESUs even if you don't have Azure Benefits, but for the installation, you will need to set up Azure Benefits (or MAK keys).

Can I get ESUs through Azure Virtual Desktops (AVD) on Azure Stack HCI?

The operating systems currently supported for AVD on Azure Stack HCI are not yet eligible for ESUs. See the list here.

Do I need to do anything to renew for Year 1/Year 2/Year 3, etc.?

No. Once you have set up Azure Benefits, you don't need to renew or do anything else.

Next steps

Product Lifecycle FAQ - Extended Security Updates.