If your organization is running Windows 10, April 10, 2018 marks an important milestone.
For Windows 10 version 1607 (the so-called Anniversary Update), that date marks the official end-of-service date. To continue receiving monthly security and quality updates, you need to install a newer feature update from the Semi-Annual Channel.
If that abbreviated lifecycle seems like a major change from previous versions, welcome to the “Windows as a service” era.
That assurance of support is especially important for business customers, who tend to be conservative in their approach to upgrades.
That 10-year support lifecycle is rapidly fading away, as Microsoft moves to its “Windows as a service” and Office 365 subscription models. For a few more years, software sold under the Fixed Lifecycle Policy is still alive and kicking. But it’s rapidly being supplanted by products like the Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and Office 365 that follow the Modern Lifecycle Policy. (For details on the differences, see the Microsoft Lifecycle Policy home page.)
Here’s the rundown on commitments for currently supported client versions of Windows and Office, starting with the newest member of the family.
How long will Windows 10 be supported?
We might need a whiteboard for this one because the story is complicated.
In the run-up to the release of Windows 10, many wondered whether Microsoft would take the opportunity to change its established 10-year support lifecycle. The answer, as announced with the release of the new operating system in July 2015, is no. The Windows 10 support lifecycle has a five-year mainstream support phase that began on July 29, 2015, and a second five-year extended support phase that begins in 2020 and extends until October 2025.
A note to that policy qualifies the support commitment to devices where the OEM continues to support Windows 10 on that device. And that’s where things become complicated.
Windows 10 feature updates (the new name for what used to be full-version upgrades) are delivered via Windows Update automatically. Microsoft released the first major update, version 1511, in November 2015; the second feature update, version 1607 (the Anniversary Update) was released in summer 2016; versions 1703 and 1709 were released in April and October 2017, respectively.
These updates are required for ongoing servicing, and Microsoft supports each feature update for 18 months. That period ended for the initial release of Windows 10 on May 9, 2017. Support for the Anniversary Update ended on April 10, 2018.
For an up-to-date list of end-of-service dates for each Windows 10 version, see the Windows lifecycle fact sheet. (Spoiler: Version 1703 servicing ends on Oct. 9, 2018, and the end date for version 1709 is April 9, 2018.)
Microsoft has made one exception to these dates for customers running Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10 versions through 1709. For those customers, the end-of-service date is pushed back an additional six months, which means the end date for Windows 10 version 1607 is October 9, 2018.
But what if your device is incapable of installing a new feature update? That unfortunate situation actually happened to owners of three- and four-year-old devices built using the Intel Clover Trail chip family. Microsoft has blocked those devices from installing the April 2017 Creators Update but eventually agreed to extend the support deadline to match the Windows 8.1 support lifecycle.
The 10-year upgrade cycle for Windows 10 matters most to customers running the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) in enterprise deployments. The 2015 LTSB release shares the support dates shown here. For the 2016 LTSB release, the support dates are pushed out by a year, to Oct. 12, 2021, and Oct. 13, 2026, respectively.
Mainstream support ends: Oct. 13, 2020
Extended support ends: Oct. 14, 2025
How long will Windows 8/8.1 be supported?
Microsoft’s official Windows 8.1 Support Lifecycle Policy treats Windows 8.1 as if it were a service pack for Windows 8. That means the lifecycle calculations start when Windows 8 shipped, in 2012.
Support for the original release of Windows 8 ended “two years after the General Availability of the Windows 8.1 update,” or Oct. 18, 2015.
A similar policy applies to Windows Server 2012 (released at the same time as Windows 8) and 2012 R2 (equivalent to Windows 8.1). Both operating systems are still supported, but the end of support date is identical for both and is based on the release date of Windows Server 2012.
Most PCs that included a preinstalled version of the original release of Windows 8 have long since disappeared from retail channels. For the dwindling population of PC users still running Windows 8, a free upgrade to Windows 8.1 is available through the Windows Store.
Mainstream support ends: No longer supported
Extended support ends: Jan. 10, 2023
How long will Windows 7 be supported?
This is still an incredibly popular release of Windows, although Windows 10 is making serious inroads, especially in the consumer segment of the market. The following support dates require that you install Service Pack 1 (Windows 7 RTM support ended in April 2009)…