Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) will stop protecting Windows 7 PCs on January 14, 2020, when support for Windows 7 is set to end.

Organizations that cannot update their systems from Windows 7 to Windows 10 until January 14 can continue receiving patches for critical and important vulnerabilities for up to another three years if they purchase Extended Security Updates (ESU).

However, Microsoft clarified on an FAQ page for ESU that Security Essentials will no longer provide protection to devices after January 14.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus program that is designed for Windows 7 — newer versions of the operating system run Windows Defender — and it’s not covered by ESU.

“MSE is unique to Windows 7 and follows the same lifecycle dates for support,” Microsoft says.

However, as BornCity points out, companies that have many Windows 7 machines can continue protecting their devices with a Microsoft solution, namely System Center Endpoint Protection (SCEP). SCEP will receive updates until January 2023 but, unlike MSE, it’s not a free solution.

“SCEP definition and engine updates will continue for Windows 7 regardless of ESU status, according to the respective lifecycle policy for the listed SCEP versions,” Microsoft says on the ESU FAQ page. “SCEP Current Branch will be the only EndPoint Protection product that will offer AV updates (until Jan 2023) after the 2012 version reaches its end of support in July, 2022.”