Microsoft today announced that it is once again extending the Windows 10 version support lifecycle in order to meet the demands of its biggest business customers.
“Today we are evolving our servicing approach [again] to provide even greater flexibility at no incremental cost for customers who need more time to test and deploy Windows 10 Enterprise and Education feature updates,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro explains.
The new support schedule is a bit confusing, but of course it is, this is Microsoft.
The short explanation is that Windows 10 Enterprise/Education is moving to an R2-type servicing model where feature updates scheduled for March will continue to be supported for 18 months, but those scheduled for September will be supported for 30 months. (Some might argue this is an LTSB, or long-term servicing branch, type model. Same idea. I just mean R2 from a servicing perspective.)
Microsoft originally tried to jam a new version of Windows 10 down businesses’ throats every 18 months. But as I had predicted, that schedule was beyond ridiculous given that most enterprises rarely update at a pace faster than once every several years. So they “adjusted” that schedule back in February. And they are adjusting it again, this week. And they will absolutely make further changes.
But, only for businesses. And only, really, for the biggest of businesses. The enterprise.
And it is this pay for pay strategy that really bothers me. Most consumers can’t do a thing to prevent a Windows 10 feature update—which is really a major version upgrade—from installing on their PCs. Windows 10 Home literally provides no formal way to do this. But Windows 10 Pro is a bit more permissive, as it lets users pause Windows 10 feature updates temporarily.
In Microsoft terminology, the support lifecycle for Windows 10 Home and Pro is unchanged: In both cases, any given Windows 10 version (1803, 1809, etc.) is supported with security and bug fixes for 18 months. Not that it matters to Windows 10 Home users, since most will be pushed—willing or not—to a new version every six months.
You know. Because Windows is a service.*
* He says sarcastically.