[German]There is some news regarding Windows 11 and Windows 10 IoT. Indirectly, Microsoft has now given a hint that the next feature update for Windows 11 will probably come at the end of 2023 as version 23H2 via Enablement Updates. And for people who don't want to say goodbye to Windows 10 in 2025, there is also a corresponding message. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 can be licensed from August 2023. Then there is support until 2031. And the sale via OEMs has (imho) been expanded to volume licenses due to "pressure" from customers.
Windows 11 23H2 comes 4. Q. 2023
While Windows 10 has reached the final version with version 22H2 and will only receive security updates until the end of support on October 14, 2025, Windows 11 is to be further developed. For this purpose, Microsoft has already been developing something that is considered to be the successor of Windows 11 22H2 for many months – whereby the plan is to release a feature update every year. According to the logic so far, that would be called 23H2 (release in the 2nd half of 2023).
The upcoming Windows 11, version 23H2, uses the same maintenance branch and code base as Windows 11, version 22H2.
All users running Windows 11 22H2 will be upgraded to version 23H2 via a so-called enablement update (Microsoft calls it a small enablement package, or eKB for short). The package is regularly rolled out via Windows Update and simply unlocks the new features of 22H2.
This mechanism has been used by Microsoft since Windows 10 version 1903 in order to upgrade the respective installations to the next feature level without major collateral damage. The enablement updates are only a few KB in size – the new features are rolled out with regular monthly security updates for all Windows 11 22H2/22H3 versions. The enablement is done through the enablement package.
Since both Windows 11 versions use the same source code, users do not have to worry about application or device compatibility between the versions. I had explained the mechanism of the enablement update in the blog post Windows 10 V2004: Enablement-Update KB4562830 to 20H2. For administrators, Microsoft has provided this WhitePaper on the shared code approach for different Windows versions.
Since support for Windows 11 21H2 will expire in October 2023, Microsoft recommends updating to Windows 11 22H2 now. This is because the feature update to version 23H2 will not take place until the 4th quarter of 2023. For Windows 11 22H2 it will be through the Enablement Update. For Windows 11 21H2, on the other hand, a large feature update is required for installation, according to my reading.
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021
The much more exciting information in Microsoft's Techcommunity post Windows client roadmap update: July 2023 is the reference to the availability of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 for volume licensing customers.
Previously, Microsoft only gave Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC through direct licensing to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) selling IoT devices. But that was purely a marketing story to keep that market small. Since Microsoft limited the Windows Enterprise LTSC versions to five years of support (see Microsoft confirms 22H2 is final Windows 10 release, Windows 11 LTSC unveiled), my reading is, that "the pressure from customers" must have been tremendous.
As Microsoft writes in the Techcommunity article: In response to your feedback, we're pleased to be able to make the licensing more flexible. We'll be offering Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 through Volume Licensing starting August 1st.
Note: Imho it was a pure marketing thing – nobody has prevented Microsoft from offering Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC to enterprises or even consumers. I guss, customers are upset to the 5 year support of Windows 11 Enterprise LTSC, so Microsoft offered the IoT volume licensing thing.
Those in enterprise environments who need the longer 10-year lifecycle of Windows 10 for devices used specifically in IoT scenarios, but don't want to buy specific devices with IoT LTSC licenses through OEMs, can now do so via volume licensing. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 Edition will be available directly from Microsoft via volume licensing starting in August 2023.
Windows IoT Enterprise is designed specifically for fixed-function industrial use cases in manufacturing, healthcare, retail and other sectors. Microsoft writes that companies should not use this solution for so-called "knowledge worker scenarios" like in the office environment. There, it plans to continue to offer Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021 Edition, but with only five years of support, as a single license in volume licensing or as part of the Windows E3/E5 subscription.
A remarkable step
I find this move to relax the licensing of Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 remarkable. I've had Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2019 installed on a Dell machine here via a volume license for a few weeks now. There are a few things that are hiccups (e.g. Hyper-V interaction, VMware Player doesn't work, folder refresh in Explorer is arguably slow). But it was a relief that I was finally no longer confronted with the useless features of a Windows 10 22H2 (that runs on a notebook, where I was now repeatedly offered the upgrade to Windows 11 22H2).
My experience with IoT LTSC so far
Right after installing Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2019, I did have a "shock" of the "Oops, did the installation go wrong?" kind. The reason: the Start menu was so beautifully empty that I thought something had been lost during the installation. But this is simply "as intended" that neither Candy Crush nor the other apps are brought on the system. And this version is supported until 2029, so I am relaxed about the "end of Windows 10 support" in October 2025.
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