Today, as part of Microsoft’s Defending Democracy program, we are announcing that we will provide free security updates for federally certified voting systems running Windows 7 until the 2020 election, even after the end. support for Windows 7 by Microsoft. I would like to explain further why we are helping our customers get away from the old operating systems and why we are making this unusual exception.
We launched Windows 7 in 2009, the same year that the Palm Pre was launched, Twitter took off, navigation on mobile phones had just arrived on the market and the floppy disks were still sold by the millions. Software designed at that time cannot offer the same level of security as a modern operating system like Windows 10. When we released Windows 7, we committed to supporting it for 10 years, and we honored this commitment. We also reminded customers of this throughout the process, particularly in January and March. This process is similar to how we ended support for other operating systems in the past, and the majority of our customers have already switched to Windows 10.
As we head into the 2020 elections, we know that there are a relatively small but still significant number of certified voting machines running Windows 7. We also know that the transition to machines running more operating systems recent in time for the 2020 elections may not be possible for a number of reasons, including the lengthy certification process for voting machines – a process that we are working with government officials to update and make more agile .
Since announcing our Defending Democracy program, we have focused on bringing the best of Microsoft security products and expertise to political campaigns, parties, the electoral community, and democracy-based non-governmental organizations. This includes our AccountGuard service, which we offer at no additional cost, and ElectionGuard, which we make available free and open source.
As the next step in protecting the 2020 elections, the Defending Democracy program will update free extensive security updates for federally certified voting systems running Windows 7. We will do so until the end of 2020 , both in the United States and in other democratic countries. countries, as defined by the EIU Democracy Index, which have national elections in 2020 and which express interest. We are also working with major manufacturers who have sold voting machines running Windows 7 to ensure the success of the security updates provided on these systems.
We are also announcing today that, as part of the Defending Democracy program, we are proactively identifying and engaging electoral authorities who are Microsoft Azure customers to provide advice and technical assistance in the use of the most secure security features. Azure advances. We provided this service before the 2018 election cycle and will do so again before the 2020 cycle.
If you are a government official overseeing the 2020 elections and have questions about security updates for voting machines running Windows 7, or if you are an election official running election-relevant workloads on Azure and if you would like assistance, please contact the Democracy Defense team at Protect2020 @ microsoft.com.
We also encourage electoral authorities to upgrade Windows devices used to run their standard business operations to Windows 10. These PCs are not subject to certification requirements which are a major barrier to upgrading voting machines. We offer Fast Track advice to help electoral authorities upgrade these PCs to Windows 10, as well as other options.
Tags: Defense of Democracy Program, ElectionGuard, Microsoft AccountGuard