[German]Microsoft has just announced its plans for its Windows 10 versions in the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC). There will probably be a new version in the fall – but it will (surprise) only be provided with updates for five years.
By default, Windows 10 is delivered via “Windows as a Service” with semi-annual feature updates. However, Microsoft has still provided the Windows 10 Enterprise Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) for special purposes, which were once called mission-critical. These Windows 10 versions previously received 10 years of support with security updates. That is now changing in a serious way. The announcements from Microsoft employee Joe Luri (Senior Product Manager for Microsoft 365) can be found in the Techcommunity post The next Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release.
- The next version of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will be released in the second half (H2) of calendar year 2021.
- For the Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC client for the desktop, Microsoft will move to a 5-year lifecycle, while Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will retain the 10-year support lifecycle.
Microsoft says, the shortening the lifecycle from 10 years to five years for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is decided to match the changes to the Microsoft Office 2021 lifecycle, which was also announced. However, Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC requires the conclusion of a volume license agreement with Microsoft.
Windows 10 LTSC only for specific scenarios
Microsoft again emphasizes that the Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC variant is intended for special devices and scenarios. Scenarios in which no changes to the operating system can be accepted during use. Or scenarios where no connection to the cloud is desired, but a desktop is needed. In mind are process control devices in manufacturing that don’t connect to the Internet, and specialized systems that require a long-term support channel.
In the blog post, Joe Luri explains that ‘in extensive conversations with customers, they’ve found that many who previously installed an LTSC version for information worker desktops don’t need the full 10-year lifecycle.’ He argues that keeping a 10-year-old product up to date with what customers expect is a challenge given the rapid and increasing pace of technological change. For scenarios that require 10 years of support, he said Microsoft has found in discussions that those needs are often better addressed with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC.
Microsoft recommends customers move to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC because, after all, that’s where the 10 years of support still applies. And then Microsoft advises against using Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC in Office environments. However, in order to align the lifecycles of Windows 10 LTSC and Office LTSC, they have reduced the support period of Windows 10 LTSC from 10 to 5 years in the interest of their customers. However, the lifecycle of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015, 2016 and 2019 will remain at 10 years, so people who need those 10 years will go for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019.
My 2 cents
I’m not convinced by this argument because Microsoft contradicts itself. Microsoft has always stated that the Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is not intended for office workstations with Office (i.e. the information worker desktops mentioned here). The target is the use in control systems and process control systems etc. But nobody can tell me that the customers declare ‘we only need our machines, control systems, laboratory equipment etc. for 5 years and can then revant the computers with Windows 10’.
But if customers run systems where Windows 10 is not allowed to change over long periods of time, the argument of rapid and increasing technological change and the difficulty of keeping a product up to date over ten years doesn’t really convince me. The supposed argument of aligning the support period with the Office LTSC is also nonsense. If the use of Windows 10 LTSC with Office LTSC in office environment not recommended, why in hell we need to have to align lifecycles?
There may be internal reasons for Microsoft – from a customer perspective, this is certainly not an advantage. An expensive machine tool or a computer tomograph (TC) or magnetic resonance tomograph (MRT) certainly have an operating life time that extends far beyond the five years mentioned. It will therefore be exciting to see what Microsoft will launch after 2025, when the on-premises products are to be killed.
The entire argumentation becomes completely bizarre when you read in the FAQ published with the above Techcommunity article, that Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC are binary identical. The difference is only in the licensing. But when it then says: Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is only supported for 5 years, while the entire binary code for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC has to be maintained and supplied with updates for 10 years, the whole thing becomes simply bizarre to me. Once again, it’s a pure licensing and marketing decision, which I’m sure the customers will happily go along with.
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