Windows 10 introduced Windows as a service, a method of continually providing new features and capabilities through regular feature updates. Semi-Annual Channel versions of Windows, such as version 1909, version 2004, and version 20H2, are released twice per year.
In addition to Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows 10 Enterprise, we also developed a Long Term Servicing Channel for Windows, known as Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC, and an Internet of Things (IoT) version known as Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC. Each of these products was designed to have a 10-year support lifecycle, as outlined in our lifecycle documentation.
Today we are announcing that the next version of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will be released in the second half (H2) of calendar year 2021. Windows 10 Client LTSC will change to a 5-year lifecycle, aligning with the changes to the next perpetual version of Office. This change addresses the needs of the same regulated and restricted scenarios and devices. Note that Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is maintaining the 10-year support lifecycle; this change is only being announced for Office LTSC and Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC. You can read more about the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC announcement on the Windows IoT blog.
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is meant for specialty devices and scenarios that simply cannot accept changes or connect to the cloud, but still require a desktop experience: regulated devices that cannot accept feature updates for years at a time, process control devices on the manufacturing floor that never touch the internet, and specialty systems that must stay locked in time and require a long-term support channel.
Through in-depth conversations with customers, we have found that many who previously installed an LTSC version for information worker desktops have found that they do not require the full 10-year lifecycle. With the fast and increasing pace of technological change, it is a challenge to get the up-to-date experience customers expect when using a decade-old product. Where scenarios do require 10 years of support, we have found in our conversations that these needs are often better solved with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC.
This change also aligns the Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC lifecycle with the recently announced Office LTSC lifecycle for a more consistent customer experience and better planning.
Our guidance has not changed: Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is designed for specialty devices, and not information workers. However, if you find that you have a need for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC, and you also need Office on that device, the right solution is Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC + Office LTSC. For consistency for those customers, we are aligning the lifecycle of the two products.
We are not changing the lifecycle of the LTSC versions that have been previously released. This change only impacts the next version of Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC, scheduled to be released in the second half of the 2021 calendar year.
We recommend that you reassess your decision to use Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and change to Semi-Annual Channel releases of Windows where it is more appropriate. For your fixed function devices, such as kiosk and point-of-sale devices, that need to continue using LTSC and are planning to install or upgrade to the next version, consider moving to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC. Again, we understand the needs for IoT/fixed purpose scenarios are different and there is no change to the 10-year support lifecycle for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC. For information on how to obtain Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC, please reach out to your local IoT distributor.
The two operating systems are binary equivalents but are licensed differently. For information on licensing Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC, please reach out to your local IoT distributor.
You can learn about the different Windows for IoT editions, and for which scenarios each edition is optimized in the Windows for IoT documentation. You’ll also find tutorials, quick start guides, and other helpful information. Check it out today!
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC will be released in the second half of 2021. You can read more about the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC announcement on the Windows IoT blog.
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