The next Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) release

Published Feb 18 2021 12:00 PM 150K Views
Microsoft

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.

What are we announcing today?

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.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why are you making this change to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC?

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.

You state that you are making this change to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC to align with the changes to Office LTSC. Has your guidance changed on installing Office on Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC?

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.

What about the current versions of LTSC – Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015/2016/2019?

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.

What should I do if I need to install or upgrade to the next version, but I need the 10-year lifecycle for my device?

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.

Is there a difference in the Windows 10 operating system between Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC?

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.

Where can I find more information about Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC?

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!

When will Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC announce their release?

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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61 Comments
Regular Visitor

Joe,

 

I mentioned the download because way up in the above article, it mentions that LTSC will only be available from selected partners, reading that it will be available from our normal download options is frankly great news!

 

The Win11 stuff with MDT is just something "new" to me (not really new to most admins). I haven't studied up on MDT even though I should have been using it for years. One of those conditions that happens when you "wear too many hats" and never have time to stay up to date on things. Thankfully I finally have an XCP-NG system set up for a lab to test with and I'll get started on this as time allows. Either that or I'll scrap WDS/MDT for something like a FOG server.

Microsoft

@Greg_E999 Only IoT LTSC requires certain partners to obtain. But for windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021, you'll be able to download it from VLSC.

Regular Visitor

Greg,

The change that was announced is that the new release of LTSC we get through EA will now have a 5 year life not 10. 

for people like me who use specialized devices in an enterprise environment that means we are forced to work with one of 5 IOT providers to figure out how to get the 10 year iot version. Microsoft is disconnected from the smaller niche use cases because we don’t make up enough of their business to care about impact.

Occasional Visitor

So why have a channel called the "Long Term Servicing Channel" if you won't be "servicing" it "long term".

 

I can't think that it would cost all that much to keep LTSC updated considering there's no feature improvements and you're supporting a bunch of similar branches anyway.

 

I can only assume this is a jab at people using LTSC "incorrectly" but also defeats the whole point of the existence of the Channel.

 

I think if there's anyone at Microsoft listening, please consider revising this decision. This doesn't help anyone but is worse for the people using LTSC correctly than the few not.

Thank you.

Regular Visitor

AdamC,

 

I'll not try and defend MS, but the only reason I can think of for the shorter term of this LTSC release is that Windows 11 is here and they don't want to deal with a long term OS past the new 5 year period. Just my guess. They have committed to an LTSC for win11 and maybe that will have longer terms again (but probably not).

 

As far as using it incorrectly... This should be an option for anyone that has a license to Pro (or similar level). There are a bunch of business/professional use cases that don't require or desire a lot of the stuff put into Pro. The entire motion picture industry is one very clear example, a large number of those machines are truly walled off from the rest of the world to try and prevent movies leaking out into "the wild". Decades ago "The Hulk" leaked on the web without the special effects, this being one concrete example I can cite. Obviously having a person inside to sneaker net the contraband out is something that no OS can prevent, but with the number of "electronic break-ins" on the rise, having a true air gap is required. Netflix might specify this in their workflow document, if you are getting funding from Netflix, you need to conform to their workflow, from cameras to file handling practices. I think a web search will find those documents for anyone wanting to look, they definitely have a list of approved cameras.

 

These movie companies also don't need all the wiz bang consumer oriented stuff, they come in, get to work, and if they are lucky go home at the end of the day.

 

The Long Term channel should be available to "normal" users, might cut down on all the debloat script stuff floating around the web that you never know if you can really trust! If you can't code the script yourself, you have no way of knowing if it contains a "surprise".

Microsoft

Thank you all for your comments.   I can assure you that the change in policy is not meant as a "jab" to anyone but rather to align with our overall lifecycle policies with Office -  we do see instances where customers use LTSC for everyday, "knowledge worker" scenarios and for that, we have alignment of five years with the Office LTSC release.   For use cases which require longer servicing without any new feature updates/changes to the device itself, we do suggest you look at the IoT LTSC edition as that is supported for 10 years directly by the OEM, which would have the hardware driver support necessary to support a static environment required.

 

Jason Leznek

Principal Program Manager - Windows Lifecycle

Microsoft Corporation

Visitor

Jason Leznek,

 

Microsoft assumes that we obtain computers with all of our equipment. In my environment we have thousands of these types of scientific devices ranging from simple plate readers to complex mass spectrometers. In an enterprise why would we want to have thousands of unique images to manage on our company network? We have strived over the last 20 years to do the opposite and allow vendors to work with us so we can use corporate provided systems so we can better secure and patch them. 
Microsoft made this decision without input from its customers. 

Occasional Contributor

@Jason Leznek  I hate to beat a dead horse at this point, especially after the product team reached out to me in recent months based on previous feedback in these comments... but I still agree @TammyM's sentiment. If you're a massive enterprise that is developing your solutions in-house or in close relationship to a vendor, this may be an acceptable answer as they're likely to be providing hardware, or you'll have a deployment scale large enough to warrant making your own partnership with an OEM like Dell where IoT Enterprise LTSC would be obtainable.

 

However, if you're only semi-large (say a university of 30,000 students + 4,000 employees), you deal with a ton of hardware and deployment scenarios where vendors for all sorts of embedded/specialized devices (signage, spectrometers, kiosks, other scientific/medical devices) are *NOT* providing the computers or the OS to run them. We supply them. These machines also A) cycle out with lifespans exceeding 5 years, and B) have historically been broken when deploying feature updates if we entertained running them on Win10 Semi-Annual Channel, and subsequently poorly supported by vendors.

 

We're carrying on and making the best of the shortened lifecycle going forward, but I really just want to drive the point home that "use IoT Enterprise LTSC" seems a rather flippant response for organizations like us, because it's simply not as easily obtainable as it's being made out to be.  Similar orgs may not have the resources, size, or scale to justify pursuing OEMs in such a fashion. We feel like we're a forgotten side-effect of this matching of lifespans between Windows Enterprise LTSC and Office LTSC, for a crowd that was never using Enterprise LTSC correctly in the first place.

Microsoft

I appreciate the feedback - truly - and we are always listening to our customers of all sizes to better understand your processes and needs.   I will keep this your comments and keep them in consideration as iterate on our LTSC and IoT roadmap.   Thank you!

Senior Member

Coming from an enterprise admin that specializes in Windows deployments: the 5 year support of LTSC 2021 makes no sense to us. We aren't concerned about the alignment of its support schedule with Office LTSC. We don't even use Office on most of our LTSC deployments. LTSC 2021 will go end of support sooner than LTSC 2019 will. So it makes sense for us to continue deploying LTSC 2019 for as long as we can. This includes on VMs which we will have no way to deploy LTSC IoT on due to the licensing of LTSC IoT. Also the complexity of the licensing of LTSC IoT makes it virtually unobtainable. Microsoft's decision of making LTSC 2021 only have 5 year of support just goes to show how Microsoft is out of touch with its enterprise customers.

Regular Visitor

There are a lot of different industries represented here, kind of neat.

 

Here's an idea for Win11 (too late for Win10). You have roles and features for server, so this is a known method of expanding an OS... How about use this method to produce Windows 11. Start with LTSC as the base of Pro/Enterprise/Education, then allow simple clicks to add the other features to "scale up" to Pro. You would of course need to pay for a Pro/Enterprise/Education license, but it would give more flexibility to both parties. Sure would save a lot of time making GPO's to remove games, and do plenty of other things to try and tame all the consumer oriented things that we just don't want in most of a business environment. I would consider this for consumer oriented computers as well, not everyone plays games on a "gaming" machine.

 

And yes I'm that jerk that removes/blocks solitaire, I'm guessing I'm not the only one in this crowd.

 

I will tell you that the worst thing that can happen is you forget to postpone feature updates for a classroom full of computers, and then they update over night. You come in the next day and the key piece of software that they are trying to use in class now no longer functions. That's what pushed me to LTSC in the first place.

 

You can keep Home the way it is, kind of the "canary in the coal mine", oddly it seems to run just fine on my laptop at home. I must be the only one that finds it acceptable. No de-bloat scripts either, but that will probably change. Going to be stuck on this because I don't think 11 is allowed to run on my hardware. But that's another topic.

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