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When will Microsoft end support for your version of Windows or Office?

"Set it and forget it" is no longer an option for the software that runs your business. For Windows 10, the support clock runs out sooner than you might expect. Here's what you need to know.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor
Reviewed by Alyson Windsor
A Windows 11 laptop on top of the corner of a Windows 10 laptop
Getty Images

This post has been completely updated and republished several times since its initial publication in 2013. Most recent update: Dec. 19, 2022.

And then there were two. Two supported Microsoft desktop operating systems, that is.

As of Jan. 10, 2023, Microsoft will stop issuing security updates for Windows 8.1. (Support for Windows 8 ended seven years earlier, in January 2016.) The Windows 7 Extended Security Update (ESU) program also ends on that date; customers who had paid the ESU subscription price got a three-year extension from the official January 2020 end-of-support date for Windows 7, but the door slams shut once and for all at the start of 2023.

Also: Is your Windows license legal? Should you even care?

That leaves Windows 10 and Windows 11 as the only supported desktop operating systems for Microsoft customers. And the clock is ticking on Windows 10, which is now less than three years from its expiration date.

There's a similar calendar for Microsoft's Office products. Support for Office 2010 ended in October 2020, while Office 2013 support ends in just a few months, on April 11, 2023.

So, where do those dates come from, and why does it matter?

Microsoft has a well-established support life cycle for its software products. It's basically an agreement that the company makes with everyone who purchases a license to use its core products, Windows (desktop and server) and Office, including the newer subscription-based versions sold under the Microsoft 365 brand.

The assurance of support is especially important for business customers, who tend to be conservative in their approach to upgrades.

Also: How to get Microsoft Office for free

The support life cycle for each new version of Windows or Office is 10 years, with mainstream support for five years and extended support for another five years. Subscription versions of Microsoft 365, which receive updates and upgrades monthly, play by a different set of rules.

That 10-year support life cycle has evolved in recent years, as Microsoft has emphasized its "Windows as a service" and Microsoft 365 subscription models. The Fixed Lifecycle Policy still applies to Office versions up to and including Office 2019. But it's rapidly being supplanted by the Modern Lifecycle Policy, which applies to Windows 10 and Windows 11 as well as Office 2021. (For details on the differences, see the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy home page.)

Here's the rundown on commitments for currently supported client versions of Windows and Office, starting with the newest member of the family.

How long will Windows 11 be supported?

Because Windows 11 follows the Modern Policy, it is currently listed as In Support, with no defined end date. Each annual feature update, which is released at the end of the calendar year, has its own support life cycle. For Home and Pro editions, the end date for support is two years after a feature update is released. Thus, the original release of Windows 11 Home and Pro, version 21H2, will stop receiving updates on Oct. 10, 2023; the end date for version 22H2 is Oct. 8, 2024. Once those dates arrive, customers need to install a newer feature update to remain in support.

For customers running Windows 11 Enterprise and Education editions, the support life cycle for a feature update is three years instead of two. These customers have until Oct. 8, 2024, to update from version 21H2; the end date is Oct. 14, 2025, for version 22H2.

Also: Is Microsoft cracking down on Windows 11 updates for unsupported hardware?

It's possible that Microsoft will follow the Windows 10 timetable and ship a successor to Windows 11 in 2026, around the time that Windows 11 reaches the traditional five-year mainstream support milestone. That scenario is not guaranteed, however. If it does happen, it's reasonable to expect Microsoft to declare an end date to Windows 11 support, with that deadline probably arriving in January 2032.

For an up-to-date list of end-of-service dates for each update, see the official support pages here: Windows 11 Home and Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise and Education.

There's one caveat to all those dates: They apply only to hardware that meets the strict compatibility requirements for Windows 11. If you use one of the documented workarounds for installing Windows 11 on hardware that falls short of those requirements, Microsoft warns that the hardware is not "entitled" to support. But it will almost certainly still receive security updates along with devices that do pass the compatibility tests.

Retirement date: TBD

How long will Windows 10 be supported?

In the run-up to the release of Windows 10, many wondered whether Microsoft would take the opportunity to change its established 10-year support life cycle. The answer, as announced with the release of the new operating system in July 2015, is no. The Windows 10 support life cycle follows the full 10-year support calendar, with the operating system scheduled for "retirement" on Oct. 14, 2025.

Those dates are calculated under the Modern Policy, which requires that the device in question be running a supported feature update. For Windows 10, feature updates were originally released every six months, with a support life cycle that lasted 18 months for each. That resulted in a chaotic support calendar, and customers practically needed a whiteboard to figure out support deadlines.

Also: Why 'debloating' Windows is not a good idea (and what to do instead)

Thanks to a change Microsoft made in 2021, however, you can safely put the whiteboard away. Feature updates are now released annually, just like with Windows 11, in the second half of the calendar year.

Support for the last of the semi-annual feature updates, version 21H1, officially ended on Dec. 13, 2022, for all editions. For Windows 10 version 21H2, the end-of-support date varies by edition: Home and Pro is June 13, 2023, while Enterprise and Education support runs a year longer, until June 11, 2024. For version 22H2, the end dates are May 14, 2024, and May 13, 2025, respectively.

The support pages for Windows 10 Home and Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise and Education promise that "Microsoft will continue to support at least one Windows 10 release until October 14, 2025."

The 10-year upgrade cycle for Windows 10 matters most to customers running Long Term Servicing editions in enterprise deployments. For 2015 and 2016, these were called Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB); beginning in 2019, the name changed to Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). The 2015 and 2016 LTSB releases end support on Oct. 14, 2025, and Oct. 13, 2026, respectively. For Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019, the end date is Jan. 9, 2029. Confusingly, Microsoft does not offer extended support for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021, which ends support on Jan. 12, 2027.

Retirement date: Oct. 14, 2025

How long will Windows 8.1 be supported?

Microsoft's official Windows 8.1 Support Lifecycle Policy treats Windows 8.1 as if it were a service pack for Windows 8. (The Windows 8.1 upgrade was delivered for free available through the Windows Store on PCs running Windows 8.) That means the life cycle calculations started when Windows 8 shipped, in 2012.

Support for the original release of Windows 8 ended "two years after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update," or Oct. 18, 2015. The extended support phase ends Jan. 10, 2023.

How long will my version of Office be supported?

The Office support life cycle works just like support for Windows, with one important difference. Office desktop apps that are installed as part of a Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) subscription always receive the most current version, which can be installed on up to 10 PCs or Macs, depending on the edition. As long as the subscription is active, the product is supported.

Microsoft continues to sell traditional versions of Office with a perpetual license. These products receive regular security and reliability updates but don't qualify for feature upgrades. They also require activation and can only be installed on a single PC.

Also: The ultimate Windows troubleshooting trick

Here are the support dates for each current member of the Office family sold as a perpetual license product. Note that versions up to and including Office 2019 follow the Fixed Lifecycle Policy and support dates apply to the following editions: Home and Business, Home and Student, Personal, Professional, Professional Academic, Professional Plus, and Standard. Office 2021 follows the Modern Lifecycle Policy, and the support calendar applies only to these editions: Home and Business, Home and Business for Mac, Home and Student, Home and Student for Mac, and Professional.

Office 2021 -- Retirement date: Oct. 13, 2026

This is the first perpetual-license version of Office that doesn't include a full 10 years of support. On its FAQ page, Microsoft explains the decision: "Software that is a decade old or more … is difficult to secure and inherently less productive. As the pace of change accelerates, it has become imperative to move our software to a more modern cadence."

Office 2016 and Office 2019 -- Extended support ends: Oct. 14, 2025

Although these versions were released three years apart, their support schedule ends on the same date.

Office 2013 -- Extended support ends: April 11, 2023

The Office 2013 support schedule goes roughly three months past that of Windows 8.1.

How the fixed support life cycle works

For older versions of Windows and Office, Microsoft provides at least five years of mainstream support, followed by another five years of extended support. These life cycles apply equally to business and home versions of Windows and Office.

Generally, "supported" means you have access to at least one type of assisted support option (possibly paid) and no-charge security updates through channels like Windows Update and the Download Center.

Also: What's next for Windows: Sweeping new strategy for cloud, ads, devices?

The calculations start with the general availability (GA) date for each product. The official date of retirement for support is the second Tuesday in the first month of the quarter following that anniversary (which also happens to be Patch Tuesday). That grace period typically means a few weeks or months of extra support tacked on at the end of the five- and 10-year support cycles for each product.

The Modern Lifecycle Policy, which applies to Windows 10, Windows 11, and Office 2021, no longer follows that calendar. Instead of mainstream and extended support phases, there's simply a retirement date, with regular updates required to maintain support along the way.

To find the official end-of-support date for any Microsoft product, use the Microsoft Product Lifecycle Search page. When you find the entry for a specific product, you can see the general availability date, the retirement dates for mainstream and extended support, and retirement dates.

Of course, it's worth noting that the end-of-support date is not a death sentence. PCs running Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 are still out there, running merrily (if not securely) along. Likewise, PCs running Windows 10 will not stop working when the clock runs out less than three years from now.

Also: Still on Windows 10 21H1? Don't expect any more monthly security updates from Microsoft

The only difference will be an eerie quiet on the second Tuesday of each month. When the product reaches its retirement date, so do those Patch Tuesday security updates.

Large enterprise customers who have custom support agreements with Microsoft and that are willing to pay a very steep price for a Premium Support agreement have, in the past, been allowed to receive custom updates after the official end of support. The last such support agreement for Windows 2000 ended in 2016, more than six years after extended support officially ended, and some large customers with Windows XP and Windows 7 deployment may still be operating under custom support plans, although Microsoft doesn't publicly acknowledge their existence.

But those options have effectively ended for recent versions of Windows and Office, and even the largest customers are required to pay for Microsoft 365 plans, which can include enterprise licensing, if they expect to receive continuing support.

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