Microsoft is altering its support cycle for businesses running Windows 10. The software maker currently releases two major Window 10 updates per year, and businesses have 18 months before they need to move from one to another more recent update. It’s all part of Microsoft’s “Windows as a service” push, and it’s designed to ensure Windows 10 gets new features instead of the previous three-year cycle for Windows releases. But it’s been a little too fast for some businesses.
Some businesses have complained that they need more time and flexibility to update Windows 10, and IT admins are tasked with ensure apps work with the latest update. Microsoft is releasing new cloud-based tools to ease app compatibility testing, and the company is also giving IT admins more time to update. All currently supported feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions will be supported for 30 months from their current release. The existing policy is 18 months, so this bump brings support closer to what IT admins were used to in the Windows 7 and earlier days.
There are some slight catches, though. All future updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education that are released every September will be supported for 30 months, but the March updates will be limited to 18 months. Microsoft says this “retains flexibility for customers that want to stay current.” The changes do mean businesses now have an extra year to apply the latest feature updates of Windows 10 if they stick to the September cycle, and that will be a welcome change to those who have complex environments.
“You’ve been talking, and we’ve been listening,” says Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365. “We recognize that it takes time to both upgrade devices and operationalize new update processes. Today’s announcements are designed to respond to your feedback and make it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy a modern desktop.”
Windows 10 Pro and Home, the versions typically used by most consumers, are unaffected by today’s changes. Feature updates for these operating systems will continue to be supported for 18 months.