Microsoft will extend support for the Windows Server and SQL Server product lines to keep customers, and ultimately convince them to move their workloads into the cloud, an analyst said today.

Last week, Microsoft unveiled “Premium Assurance,” which will to the support lifespan of Windows Server 2008 and later, and SQL Server 2008 and later. Enterprises with existing Software Assurance agreements will be able to purchase the additional support starting in March 2017.

Under Premium Assurance, only those security updates classified as patching “Critical” and “Important” flaws will be provided. The extended support will cost between 5 percent and 12 percent of the current licensing cost for each year of coverage, depending on when during the next two and a half years a customer commits.

Analysts read between the lines of the announcement, trying to discern Microsoft’s motivation—beyond what a pair of marketing executives put forward—and to explain why the company switched from a semi-secret practice of offering extended support to some firms, but not all, to a more transparent policy available to most commercial customers.

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