Microsoft Talks Windows 11 Lifecycle and Servicing

Posted on July 7, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 34 Comments

Among the questions about Windows 11 is how—and how long—Microsoft will service it going forward, and how that compares to Windows 10. Well, Microsoft has actually discussed this a bit, as it turns out. In fact, it did so over a week ago.

I’m not sure how I missed this—fog of war, I guess—but about 10 days ago, Microsoft’s John Cable posted Windows lifecycle and servicing update to Microsoft’s Tech Community blog (and not the normal Windows blog, as usual, so maybe that’s why I missed it). And while it doesn’t answer all of our questions, there is still some good info there.

Key points include:

Update cadence. We knew—and celebrated—this before, but it bears repeating: Windows 11 will have an annual feature update cadence, a welcome change from the semi-annual update cadence of Windows 10. Feature updates, as you must know, are major version upgrades (or “new versions of Windows,” regardless of how they’re branded). Cable even admits that this change was “based on user feedback.” Windows as a Service (WaaS) was not popular with Windows 10 users.

Feature updates. Given this new schedule and the timing for Windows 11’s initial release, it will come as no surprise that Windows 11 feature updates will be released in the second half of the calendar year going forward. Microsoft had moved into a model with Windows 10 a few years ago in which the first feature update of any given year was minor and the second one, in the second half of the year, was a major update with longer support. So this makes sense too.

Feature update support. Each Windows 11 Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education feature update (e.g. “each version of Windows 11) will be supported for 24 months. Windows 11 Enterprise and Education feature updates will be supported for 36 months.

Consumer capabilities with regards to updates. Mr. Cable says that consumers will have the ability to schedule a restart, pause an update, and have full control over which Windows 11 optional updates to install. The “seeker” process from Windows 10 will apply to the Windows 11 upgrade; if you seek and it’s available, it will be installed (assuming your PC meets the more stringent Windows 11 hardware requirements).

Commercial capabilities with regards to updates. Microsoft’s commercial customers, of course, will have more servicing and update options than consumers; after all, they are paying for these capabilities. The management and deployment tools that businesses use today will move forward unchanged for Windows 11, and Microsoft will update its Endpoint Analytics and Update Compliance tools later this year so that IT can determine which PCs in their environments meet the Windows 11 hardware requirements.

Changes to the monthly update cadence. Like Windows 10, Windows 11 will be serviced by monthly cumulative updates that will appear at least once each month and as often as three times, with each week in a month labeled with a letter (A, B, C, and D). The “B” week remains dedicated to Patch Tuesday, but Microsoft promises those cumulative updates will be up to 40 percent smaller than with Windows 10 and will thus be easier and faster to install. The “C” week is for preview updates that will be made available to seekers as before.

And one big question, of course:

When does Windows 11 support end? Cable doesn’t address this. He notes that Windows 10 support will continue through October 14, 2025, however, and while we already knew that, this information suggests that Windows 11 will have a similar 10-year support lifecycle as well. “We will be sharing more detailed information on both the next update[s] to Windows 10 and Windows 11, including details on how we will make available and rollout each release,” Cable notes.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (34)

34 responses to “Microsoft Talks Windows 11 Lifecycle and Servicing”

  1. DanStorm7

    The one thing that makes me wonder is what happens to internal development at Microsoft. Given there are currently two development semesters, does that change to one a year or do they continue with two but the annual feature update is only based on the finalised second semester platform….?

  2. WaltC

    The requirements for W11 are so dated right now that I'm surprised at the number of people who consider them somehow onerous--fTPM 2.0 I've had supported on my x570 AMD motherboard since two years ago this month--when I bought my current board, a Gigabyte Aorus Master. GPT formatting (better/safer than MBR), >64GBs of storage (a pittance), and secure boot (Great for keeping malware from loading underneath your bios firmware at boot)--I was running those things a couple of years before that, even. So, I mean...duh...;)


    And, if you absolutely refuse to do anything for yourself at all except pitch a fit because you resent Microsoft slightly upping the baseline security requirements for its flagship mainstream OS then all you have to do is stay with Win10 (which supports all of these things but doesn't require them) for the next ~ 4 years. All I can say for certain is that I have never seen Microsoft hit an EOL date and refuse to extend it...so it's anyone's guess how long Win10 will be supported.


    The thing to keep in mind is that these dates for W10 & W11 are fluid and constantly in flux and will probably change--for certain. W11, remember, is yet to be released officially--I'm running the first Insider's beta of Win11 and I like it fine. There are of course bugs--but if you don't like bugs then stay far, far away from Windows Insider's groups...;) Been in the Insider's since Oct 1, 2014, so I guess I must like it, eh?...;)



    • MikeCerm

      It's cool that you have a current-gen system that meets all the requirements, but not everyone does. I have a motherboard that meets all the requirements (secure boot, TPM via an add-in module), but my CPU is a 4th-gen i7-4790K. Despite its age (2014), it's still a very capable system that can run modern games in 4K, and it's performance is roughly identical to a 10th or 11th-gen quad-core i3. It's significantly faster than than a lot of Intel's mobile processors, and especially all of Intel's N-series Apollo Lake and Gemini Lake CPUs that will be supported. So why support those CPUs, but not more capable CPUs from prior generations? It makes no sense.


      I'm not too upset about it though. I'm 100% certain that Windows 11 will install on systems like mine even though they're not officially supported. Microsoft will either publicly backtrack and announce that older processors are supported, or they're just going to *unofficially* not actually check for CPU eligibility if certain other requirements are met. Just because something isn't "supported" doesn't mean they're going to specifically stop it from happening. They still haven't stopped people from upgrading to Windows 10 for free even though it hasn't been officially supported for like 5 years.

    • Greg Green

      The requirements are so dated that it’s estimated 60-75% of Win 10 users can’t meet them.


      you’re fairly clueless as to how seldom people and corporations update their hardware.

      • exmsde

        I would go further, Microsoft is still selling new PCs (the Surface Studio 2) that don’t meet the Windows 11 requirements. The issue isn’t TPM or other clear specs, it is the lack of support for 7th generation Core processors. And no real explanation for why they are requiring 8th generation or newer.

    • ezzy

      I kind of see something like this happening as well. Perhaps Windows 10 Support will be extended somewhat if the PC cannot meet the Win 11 requirements, but if it can it will be forced to 11? (Or no longer supported)


      While MS has certainly run into users who were reluctant to upgrade in the past, it's has never been the case where a significant number of those people would have to buy new hardware to do it. I'm perfectly OK with the Win 11 hardware requirements and the machine I spend 90% of the time using meets them, I do worry about the other devices I own essentially becoming useless.

  3. Passinttd

    Breaking from Twitter so I can not ping you there but I have a question about local domains. I have been working from home and threw my desktop on our not really set up AzureAD. It isn't syncing with our on prem AD at all. I went in to look at the Work / School account settings and I'm not seeing any way to add a local domain anymore. Bug or are they trying to kill that?

    • IanYates82

      Best thing to do here is to remove the azure ad from the device. Then join to your regular domain.

      Are you syncing your regular domain to azure ad, and syncing your user accounts? If so, you'll find azure ad association will come along for the ride for free, but the reverse does not happen.

      I have my daily work laptop joined to the domain and it gets azure ad easy stuff along for the ride. My "on the couch" laptop is only joined to azure ad - I thought I'd try the breezy new world... It doesn't play well with some file servers, doesn't know about group policy, etc. Anything that is on-prem only just doesn't know about the "cloud resources only" laptop.

      • Passinttd

        That's the key, we are not syncing anything. It still has the "Add account" option but once you click it, there is no local domain option. Only an AzureAD option.


        I guess the question is, were you AD joined before you upgraded to 11? Or did you add the local AD after you upgraded to 11?

  4. ebraiter

    Probably a good idea to have the feature update in the fall. Get it to the OEMs intime for the holiday buying season.

  5. cnc123

    Since Microsoft just dropped Windows 11 CPU support to only include the last 4 years of CPUs, is that trend going to continue? Since each Windows 11 version only has 24 months of support, will they drop CPU support every X number of versions? Is the plan to raise revenue by Androidizing the PC market, constantly forcing you to choose between being unsupported and buying new hardware?


    I don't like MacOS from a usability perspective, and Apple has a history of arbitrarily dropping CPU support on the Mac side, but if Microsoft is going to force me to throw away a $1,000 desktop and laptop every four (or whatever) years, and Apple is better, that's the route I'll likely go.

    • ebraiter

      You sure? With Apple's new M1 CPU, those running Intel CPUs will have no support in a couple of years. This is at least the second time Apple switched processor architecture [PowerPC -> Intel -> M1]. who's to say something like a M2 CPU comes out and they stop supporting M1s?

      You'll be spending $1500 to get a decent Mac. I've have my desktop for 7+ years i7-4770 CPU and I'll be running it probably until 2025. My desktop feels as fast as my work laptop [i7-8th generation].


      • Greg Green

        My late 2013 iMac was still able to upgrade to the latest macOS this year. That beats Win 11 by three chip generations.

      • ikjadoon

        Apple still sells Intel Macs, and often alongside their M1 counterparts.


        I fully suspect they have a much longer support cycle than what remains for Windows 10.


        The 2013 Mac Pro (Intel) is still fully supported by Apple on macOS 12. The 2018 Mac Pro should be supported for a similar number of years (8-10 years).

  6. ngc224

    “(or ‘new versions of Windows,’ regardless of how they’re branded)”


    I think Paul knows something he’s not telling us.

     

  7. samp

    What does the arrow icon (4th from the left) on the taskbar mean? Never seen anything like it in W10.

  8. sherlockholmes

    The big question Microsoft has to answer: Why should I buy a new PC just for a UI change when my PC doesnt have TPM 2?

    • StevenLayton

      I suspect that answer from MS will be that you don't need to buy a new computer until November 2025, when support for Windows 10 ends. Your PC will be 4 years older then, and might more naturally be at its end of life. If you want the Windows 11 UI change, but don't want to buy a new PC before then, I'm sure software like Stardock will fill that need.

    • lvthunder

      Android Apps, variable refresh rate (in a laptop could mean better battery life), AutoHDR, etc. Windows 11 is more than just a UI change.

      • StevenLayton

        All of which you'll be able to use in 4 years, if you upgrade to a new PC when your Windows 10 stops being supported. You don't lose anything by staying on Windows 10, you just don't gain anything by not being able to upgrade to Windows 11.


      • sherlockholmes

        For what do I need Android Apps on a desktop PC? Specially from a Sttore form a bad guy company like Amazon.

    • chuckop

      If you think it's "just for a UI change" you have already answered your question.


      Windows 11 is more than UI changes, although they are the most visible (obviously) changes. Whether it's "worth it" or not will be each customers choice based on their needs and desires.

    • qaelith2112

      I think a good argument can be made that this is more than just a UI change.

  9. lvthunder

    I think they should do it the way Apple has been doing it lately. Windows 11 this fall, Windows 12 next fall, and so forth.

  10. bart

    Re: Feature updates: "....in the second half of the year, was a major update with longer support. So this makes sense too."


    I am kind of surprised by this to be honest. To me it seems that MS misses the boat where it comes to launching new features for back to school. So isn't MS shooting itself in the foot this way? Again.

  11. ghostrider

    We stuck with Win10 LTSC in our organisation, and I'm so glad we did. Win10 feature updates were becoming a train-wreck - too much risk for us. No mention of if there will be a Win11 LTSC though, but if there moving back to a 3 year support cycle with Enterprise (which indicates the as-a-service delivery was pretty much broken and so unpopular), it might again be worth considering when we have no other choice.

Leave a Reply