Today, Microsoft announced two significant changes to Windows 10 servicing timeframes. One of these changes is a welcome extension of the Windows 10 support lifecycle. However it only applies to half of the releases for two versions of Windows 10, while the support lifecycle for other versions remains unchanged.
Confused? Let’s break down the changes.
What Has Not Changed?
Before detailing the changes from today’s announcement, let’s quickly highlight what has not changed. The support lifecycle for Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home and Office 365 remains the same. Each of these still has an 18-month support window in which they will get updates.
What Has Changed?
The announced changes affect the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10. There are essentially two changes for these.
First, currently supported versions of these two editions will now be supported for 30 months from their original release date instead of the previous 18-month timeframe. This results in the following lifecycle timelines:
|Version||Release Date||End of Support|
|Windows 10, version 1607||Aug. 2, 2016||April 9, 2019|
|Windows 10, version 1703||April 5, 2017||Oct. 8, 2019|
|Windows 10, version 1709||Oct. 17, 2017||April 14, 2020|
|Windows 10, version 1803||April 30, 2018||Nov. 10, 2020|
To understand the other change, remember that Microsoft has committed to releasing feature updates for Windows 10 twice yearly. Those releases are targeted for March and September of each year.
The second servicing change is for future releases of Windows 10 Enterprise or Education that are targeted for release in September of each year. September feature updates will also have a 30-month support window.
Interestingly, this 30-month support window does not apply to any edition of Windows that is targeted for release in March of each year. March Windows 10 feature updates will continue to have an 18-month support lifecycle. This creates a level of disparity in the support lifecycle that will cause confusion in the years to come.
As it currently stands, the versions of Windows 10 released in March of each year will now lose support six months before the versions released the previous September. See the table below for the projected lifecycle dates for the upcoming releases of Windows, based on the lifecycle guidance Microsoft announced.
|Version||Targeted Release Date||Lifecycle||Expected End of Support|
|Windows 10, version 1809||September 2018||30 months||April 2021|
|Windows 10, version 1903||March 2019||18 months||October 2020|
|Windows 10, version 1909||September 2019||30 months||April 2022|
|Windows 10, version 2003||March 2020||18 months||October 2021|
It is nice to see Microsoft respond to customer demands for extending the timeline for Windows 10 updates; however, I am skeptical about this extension only being available for the September feature updates.
I expect Microsoft customers to demand that the 30-month lifecycle be applicable to both annual releases, and I further expect that Microsoft will change these lifecycle numbers again before any of the upcoming Windows releases reach their end-of-support date.
The lifecycle extension to 30 months is good for customers but it only went halfway.