Microsoft is cutting Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC support from ten years to five

Microsoft is making it tougher for users who've looked to Long Term Servicing Updates as a way to avoid feature updates for Windows 10.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft officials are tightening the screws on Windows 10 users running the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) version of the product, starting later this year. Microsoft will be cutting from ten years to five the length of time it will support the Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC releases, starting with the one coming in the second half of calendar 2021 -- which should be Windows 10 21H2, unless Microsoft changes how and when  it releases LTSC Windows variants.

Officials announced the change in a blog post on February 18 that coincided with an announcement about the coming perpetual (a k a, non-cloud-subscription) versions of Office -- the Office LTSC and Office 2021 releases. Support for both of those products also will be limited to five years.

Microsoft execs have tried to dissuade customers from using LTSC versions of Windows 10 as a way to avoid regular feature updates. (More than a few customers do this.) They've emphasized that the intent of LTSC releases is to support mission-critical systems that can't or shouldn't get regular updates.

In today's blog post, officials said they also found that many customers who installed LTSC versions for their information worker desktops "found that they do not require the full 10-year lifecycle."

Microsoft is guiding those who actually do need ten years of support for a Windows release to go with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC, which will continue to get the full decade of support. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will be released in the latter half of 2021, officials said.

Users running Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015, 2016 or 2019 are not affected by the support change announced today. They still will get ten years of support, meaning five years of mainstream and five years of extended support during which Microsoft will provide security fixes for these products.

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