Windows 10: Surprise, there is an ESU support extension; also for private users

Windows[German]What Microsoft has just announced comes as a surprise. After the official Windows 10 support ends in October 2025, Redmond will continue to provide paid security updates for a further three years. And an innovation that has never been seen before: Private users can also buy corresponding ESU licenses to be able to operate their Windows 10 systems until the end of 2028. Below I provide an overview of the situation and also outline alternatives.


Windows 10 reaches EOL in October 2025

On October 14, 2025, Microsoft's support for Windows 10 (Home, Pro, Enterprise, Education) will end. This date has been communicated for some time. Roughly speaking, this means that private individuals and companies will need a successor solution of some kind by the end of October 2025. This is because there will be no more security updates for Windows 10 from November 2025. Only the so-called LTSC versions and the IoT counterparts of Windows 10 Enterprise will still receive security updates until 2029 or Jan. 2032 (depending on the version).

Windows 11 as a problem

So far, Microsoft has been saying like a prayer wheel: "We recommend that users switch to Windows 11", and the upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is even free for unmanaged systems (Windows Home and Pro) (other conditions may apply for volume license agreements). However, there is one problem: many Windows 10 machines are not suitable for Windows 11.

Switching to Windows 11 is simply not possible, a new computer is required, which means that the end of Windows 10 support will result in large mountains of electronic waste. Currently, roughly 1/4 of all desktop systems are only running Windows 11, while the remaining 3/4 of all systems are still running Windows 10.

Petition to extend support

The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) had set up a petition calling for Microsoft to extend support for Windows 10 beyond 2025. The aim is to avoid a huge mountain of electronic waste being created because many computers are unsuitable for Windows 11. In the article Petition to Microsoft demands Windows 10 support extension, I reported at the end of October 2023 that Microsoft had been presented with a petition to this effect.

Support extension in discussion

Based on the above, many users speculated about a so-called ESU extension (the abbreviation stands for Extended Security Update), which is available for Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 / R2 and Windows Server 2012 / R2. Although the ESU program is subject to a charge and is only available to companies, it enables the operation of the relevant Windows versions, which are then supplied with security updates for up to three years (in the case of Windows 7, we are now even in the 4th ESU year).


In the meantime, there have even been reports that Microsoft is discussing internally whether to offer a (possibly paid) support extension for Windows 10. The whole thing was fueled in a post by Zack Bowden, who referred to his sources.

But Ed Bott destroyed these hopes within the ZDNet article Hoping for a Windows 10 support extension? Microsoft just quietly crushed your dreams. Ed Bott had come across an undated support article How we are maximizing value in Windows 10 from Microsoft, which had presumably been updated to November 16, 2023. It stated: The Windows 10 end of support date of October 14, 2025, is unchanged.

Could be interpreted in two ways: The pessimists concluded that the "ESU support extension for Windows 10" issue was over, nothing was coming. The optimists could cling to the hope: "Microsoft has not yet made a decision on the support extension".

I covered this developing story within the blog post Windows 10: Microsoft buries the "dream" of a support extension. Within this blog post I had also mentioned various alternatives for users in the article on how to look forward to the EOL of Windows 10 in October 2025 in a relaxed manner.

Windows 10 ESU is coming for everyone

Microsoft has lifted the veil on November 5, 2023 in the form of a tech community post Plan for Windows 10 EOS with Windows 11, Windows 365, and ESU by Microsoft employee Jason Leznek, Principal Product Manager Windows Servicing and Delivery. Several blog readers have pointed out the publication and the following tweet also refers to this blog post.

Windows 10 ESU

Microsoft points out that there is "less than two years remaining" for Windows 10. Security updates will be available for the last time at the End of Live (EOL) on October 14, 2025. After that, there will be no more free security updates, bug fixes or support for Windows users. Microsoft has suggested switching to Windows 11 after all. Companies in particular should use the next two years to plan their migration.

In addition to the various options for switching from Windows 10 to Windows 11 or to the Windows 365 Cloud PC, Microsoft also announces a fee-based Extended Security Update Program (ESU) for Windows 10 in the Techcommunity article. This applies to corporate environments:

  • For Windows 365 customers, ESUs are provided at no additional cost for Windows 10 devices connected to a cloud PC running Windows 11.
  • For those in corporate environments running a Windows 10 instance in Azure Virtual Desktop, ESUs will also be provided at no additional cost for these virtual machines (Azure performance must be paid for, of course).

But the scoop is in the last sentence of the Techcommunity post, which reads: "Stay tuned for more ESU program updates as we get closer to availability, including an ESU program for individual customers." In plain language this means: Prices and exact details will not be given until a later date. But there will also be an ESU program for individual customers. In an addendum to the Lifecycle FAQ – Windows, this has even been described in more detail:

What options do I have for continuing to use versions of Windows 10 that reach End of Support on October 14, 2025?

You may continue to use Windows 10 after support ends; however, it will no longer receive quality updates, new or updated features, security updates, or technical support. We recommend that customers upgrade or transition to a new Windows 11 PC for the best, most secure computing experience.

If you are an individual consumer or an organization who elects to continue using Windows 10 after support ends on October 14, 2025, you will have the option of enrolling your PC in the paid Extended Security Updates (ESU) program. The ESU program enables PCs to continue to receive Critical and Important security updates (as defined by the Microsoft Security Response Center) through an annual subscription service after support ends. More details including pricing will be provided at a later date.

The ESU program provides individual consumers and organizations of all sizes with the option to extend the use of Windows 10 PCs past the end of support date in a more secure manner.

This is a departure from the previous ESU program, which was only available to corporate customers. In my opinion, it is not only an expansion of the ESU program, but also an admission by Microsoft that it has lost out to the market. The user base is simply too high to pull the plug in October 2025 without a big shout.

For Redmond, it's even a win-win situation, because security updates have to be provided for the LTSC versions of Windows 10 anyway. At the same time, there is the opportunity to pocket a few dollars in ESU licenses from a number of users who do not want to or cannot switch.

And hell doesn't freeze over

Finally, a few words. On the one hand, it is pleasing that all Windows 10 users will have the opportunity to continue using systems from October 14, 2025 until October 2028 at the latest and to be supplied with security updates. This will also give companies a degree of security with regard to the Windows 10 machine pool.

Personally, I was rather relaxed about the end of support for Windows 10 on October 14, 2025. In the blog post Windows 10: Microsoft buries the "dream" of a support extension, I pointed out that you could opt for a Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC edition and buy a corresponding license. The Windows 10 IoT Enterprise 21H2 is supported in the LTSC version until January 2032.

I also pointed out in the blog post that I expect solutions from ACROS Security. I have not yet discussed this with Mitja Kolsek. As there are still security updates for the LTSC versions, I could assume that Kolsek and his team are developing corresponding micropatches to close vulnerabilities for Windows 10 22H2. These are then loaded into Windows 10 at runtime via the 0patch agent and ensure that the operating system remains secure with regard to known vulnerabilities.

In my opinion, the 0patch solutions should be even cheaper than Microsoft's approach. Let's see what Mitja Kolsek will announce soon. Information on how the 0patch agent works, which loads the micropatches into the memory of an application at runtime, can be found in blog posts such as this one).

Addendum: I've spoken with Mitja Kolsek – ACROS Security will will definitely offer a 0patch solution for Windows 10 users. I will present details here in the blog in due course.

And I also suspect that there will be something like a bypass ESU solution (see link below), which under Windows 7 SP1 allowed users to install the security updates that Microsoft provided for ESU customers on other machines without an ESU license. So the best prospects for staying with Windows 10 in 2026 and beyond.

Similar articles:
Petition to Microsoft demands Windows 10 support extension
Windows 10: Microsoft buries the "dream" of a support extension
Windows 7 Sept. 2020 Updates: BypassESU v8 required

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One Response to Windows 10: Surprise, there is an ESU support extension; also for private users

  1. EP says:

    recently from Neowin – Paid extended Windows 10 support will be a nightmare for consumers

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