General Blog, General IT, Windows Updates/Patches

How To Activate Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU)

This post intends to serve as a guide on activating a purchase ESU license key on a Windows 7 box. I’m making the assumption that you have already gone through the procedure to purchase the Windows 7 ESU key and have access to it.

If you haven’t, you should be able to purchase one through a distributor (such as Ingram Micro) and link it to your Office 365 tenant as a subscription-item. If you are a partner and need details on procuring Windows 7 ESUs through the Partner Center, see Purchasing Windows 7 ESUs as a Cloud Solution Provider

Table of Contents
– Installation Prerequisites
– Manual Installation and Activation
– Automating via Batch Script
– Additional References

Installation Prerequisites

There are some updates that you’re going to need to ensure are installed on your system(s) first. The official Microsoft documentation links to older KB’s, but those have been replaced by newer ones. As of this post’s creation dates, here are the latest KB’s that you will need.

2019-03 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 7 for x86/x64-based Systems (KB4490628)

2019-08 Security Update for Windows 7 for x86/x64-based Systems (KB4474419)

2019-12 Servicing Stack Update for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4531786)

Once three above three are confirmed on your system, you should be able to install this final prerequisite.

2019-12 Security Monthly Quality Rollup for Windows 7 for x86-based Systems (KB4530734)

Installation and Activation

One the prerequisites are installed, you can follow these steps to activate Extended Security Updates (ESU) for machines that are connected to the internet.

1) First, locate and Copy the ESU Key to your clipboard.

2a) Open an Elevated Command Prompt window and run the following command.
slmgr /ipk <ESU KEY>

After a few moments, you should get a message confirming that the product key was installed.

2b) If you are unable to interact with the desktop GUI, you can leverage the cscript command to write the output to the console.
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /ipk <ESU KEY>

3a) Now that the key is on the system, we need to locate its Activation ID so we can activate the key in a future step. Run the following command:
slmgr /dlv

3b) While the command above will present the Activation ID to us, it’s not easy to copy. Let’s run the command again, but leverage cscript so we can copy the Activation ID value from the console.
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /dlv

4) With the Activation ID copied, let’s move forward with the activation.
slmgr /ato <ESU ACTIVATION ID>

5) Once you have activated the ESU product key, you can verify the status at any time by running the following command and referencing the License Status value.
slmgr /dlv

Automating the Process via Batch Script

The ESU license is activated — Great! Now how do we automate this process for the rest of our machines? Lets create a quick batch script that we can then push out via a RMM solution and/or GPO logon scripts.

Note: I am not a scripting expert, but I was able to piece the following together. Please reach out or leave comments below if you see necessary improvements. Make sure you pass a value for the %Key% variable, or replace the variable in your script with your actual key.

@echo off
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /ipk %Key%
for /f "tokens=*" %%a in ('cscript C:\WINDOWS\system32\slmgr.vbs /dlv ^| findstr /b ^"Activation ID: ^"') do set actID=%%a
set actID=%actID:Activation ID: =%
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /ato %actID%
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /dlv

Troubleshooting Tip:
While the above script worked for me, the value that gets returned for %actID% may be incorrect for you if you have multiple products installed on your system, such as a previous ESU or OEM license. If you notice that your License Status still shows Unlicensed after running the script, the %actID% is likely populated with another product installed on your system.

EDIT: A user on Reddit sent in a tip that the ActivationIDs should remain the same across all machines for this year’s ESU. I haven’t verified if that’s the case or not, but that should resolve issues related to pulling down the incorrect %actID%. Updated batch script could be as follows in that case:

@echo off
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /ipk %Key%
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /ato %actID%
cscript "c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs" /dlv

Additional References

Check out Microsoft’s official documentation on this topic, including information on how to activate the ESU on machines without internet connectivity.

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