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

Published 02-18-2021 12:00 PM 49.5K 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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32 Comments
Senior Member

So let me get this straight... LTSB/LTSC has been forever pushed by Microsoft as a solution for embedded systems like kiosks, signage, medical/industrial equipment, etc. Microsoft has always quite explicitly discouraged the use of it as a daily driver for information workers specifically because of the lack of OS servicing, ongoing silicon support, etc.

 

And now Microsoft's justification of cutting LTSC's lifecycle in half from now on is that customers using it for information workers' machines against Microsoft's guidance found it to be a hassle to upgrade/manage?

 

That's a major slap in the face to customers using LTSB/LTSC in correct deployment scenarios. In what world does this make sense?

 

Bad move in my opinion, Microsoft.

Frequent Contributor

The reason in my opinion is simple. 

 

10 years are too long in terms of security changes. Like TLS support etc. 

 

Also I would encourage @Joe Lurie and the team to make it easier to get support.

 

Extended support is very unattractive by design. 

 

If LTSC gets now 5 years is it split into half so 2.5 y main support + 2.5 y extended support or as a Novum only 5 y Main support and no paid extended support?

 

If anyone needs Office on Windows 10 2022 LTSC I would plea to wait for Office 2022 Release aswell. 

Visitor

This is very disappointing. For those that deal with regulated and specialty equipment you understand that our vendors do not adapt that quickly and we the customers are left to deal with EOL OS'. If Microsoft is going down this road to shorten the life from 10 to 5 years they really need to do a better job partnering with the suppliers that provide equipment controlled by Windows.

Senior Member

In the end it doesn't matter whether five years or ten years. We have a tape robot by Sun in our data center. (Anybody here who remembers who and what was Sun?) This tape robot runs very well, so why should we replace it. It runs with Windows 2000. In our workshops we have have some CNC-machines what runs with Windows NT 4.0. Using an operating system that runs out of support by the origin publisher is never a good idea for such devices. On the other hand we use Windows 10 LTSC for control our particle accelerators. The control machines are standard workstations and the hardware must be replaced every five years. So I know some old-fashioned people at our institute who would like to stay on Windows XP forever will be disappointed. But in the end the change it will not really make i difference for us.

Microsoft

@ajc196 @We understand the need for legitimate use cases and wholeheartedly support you. We recommend you look at Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC for those cases. And the current versions of LTSC are keeping their 10 yr lifecycle so this announcement shouldn’t impact your existing devices.

Microsoft

@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus  We aren’t splitting support into 2-1/2 + 2-1/2. It’s simply 5 yrs support. With LTSC not receiving new features throughout its life, there’s virtually no difference between normal support and extended support. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC will have 5 yrs support starting with the next release.

Senior Member

@Joe Lurie I understand the points you've made, but I'm confused on the ultimate reasoning behind knocking down the support lifetime. I swear I'm not trying to argue just to argue, I want to understand Microsoft's logic is all.

 

Look at it this way with an upcoming example -- Microsoft has to develop & support security updates for 10 years for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021.  It should be a binary equivalent to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021.  But the former has 10 years of support, the latter gets 5 years. Why? I don't see Microsoft isn't saving effort/time on development since security updates have to be developed for 10 years for IoT anyway.  So this halving of support seems unfair and arbitrary, even more so when this very article implies that customers misusing LTSC is the entire reasoning behind the decision:

 

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.

Frequent Contributor

don't see Microsoft isn't saving effort/time on development since security updates have to be developed for 10 years for IoT anyway.

 

@ajc196 I never dealt with Windows IoT. Are you sure that the CUs are same for LTSC and IoT as they are for 1903 and 1909 or 2004 & 20H2 & 21H1, except a metadata in the update catalog?

Imho LTSC is like a fork from the usual Windows 10 SAC. comparable of Office 2016/2019/2022 vs Microsoft 365 Apps for Business / Microsoft 365 for family. Otherwise I would be too surprised that every time a SAC H2 release is on the way we also get a LTSC in time on a 3 y schedule. 


Microsoft

@ajc196 Really, like we state above, we know there are legitimate use cases for LTSC and we offer IoT for those cases. Our support lifecycle decisions are based on direct and in-depth feedback from our customers.

Visitor

@Joe Lurie will licensing become more flexible for the win10  iot enterprise version? Today that specific flavor is only sold to a few select resellers. I manage specialty devices for an enterprise. We utilize our ms agreement for licensing and provide our own hardware to configure with our equipment: for about 75-80% of the environment. For the other 20% where we are getting the PC/os from the supplier with the equipment, the suppliers do not care about our desire to patch and secure our systems so they do not take the time to get the LTSC flavor. It is not easy for them to understand the model and they do not want to be forced to work with the Microsoft’s selected 6 vendors to get the right version. 
I understand the desire to limit enterprises from deploying LTSC to the office environment but Microsoft does a poor job of understanding the specialty uses for windows.

Senior Member

@Tammy104 You've hit the nail on the head of why I'm being critical of this decision.  Right now our volume agreement allows the use of Enterprise LTSC; It's a line item on our annual contract along with other things like Windows Server licensing, M365 A3/A5 licenses, etc.  As far as I can tell, IoT Enterprise (both LTSC and SAC) is unavailable to us -- it's not on our contract, and not in VLSC.

 

Right now we have Enterprise LTSC running digital signage, self-service kiosks, machines that control mass spectrometers and NMR in labs, and various medical devices in our health center.  All places where vendors don't provide the OS/hardware, but Enterprise LTSC is perfectly acceptable and necessary because of the predictability that an OS provides when not constantly being serviced with feature updates.

 

If IoT Enterprise LTSC is going to become more readily available to those who already have rights to Enterprise LTSC, I'll gladly go use IoT Enterprise LTSC and carry on with life. But until we have more info on such plans or lack thereof, "just use IoT" is easier said than done. (Which makes the answers here all the more patronizing, frankly) In the mean time, the net result for us as an organization is that future Enterprise LTSC releases just got their support halved for no valid reason.

New Contributor

Can I know how to license the LTSC?
Which option is correct?

 

-----OPTION 1-----
1. Windows 10 Pro (Based License)

2. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (Upgrade)

-----OPTION 2-----

1. Windows 10 Pro (Based License)

2. Windows 10 Enterprise (Upgrade)

3. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC (Upgrade)

Senior Member

@Joe Lurie, Our hardware vendor does not offer an AutoPilot LTSC IoT solution, so we would be extremely limited in what we can do with LTSC IoT.

 

Also, it is too costly to expect us to have to replace process control equipment every 5 years. 


We will be skipping LTSC 2021 since it will go out of support before LTSC 2019 (1809) does. We hope Microsoft comes to their senses and reverses this decision in time for the next LTSC version.

Microsoft

@jd Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is licensed with Windows Enterprise licensing - sort of a 1a in your options above.

1. Windows 10 Pro

2. Windows E3 Licensing

 

With E3 you get a whole slew of features - management and security - and the rights to install and run Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC. You can install Windows 10 Enterprise semi-annual channel on the devices in your infrastructure that the IW uses, and LTSC on the specialized devices all with the same license.

Microsoft

@AngryJohnny75 Thanks for that feedback. Along with the other feedback we've received here I'll be brining this back to our product group. In your scenario, yes, staying on LTSC 2019 is probably the best solution for you. However, since you were considering going from LTSC 2019 (released in 2018) to LTSC 2021, then perhaps a 5-year lifecycle might work for those devices.

Microsoft

@jd Please DM me your contact info.

Thanks!

--Joe.

Senior Member

@Joe Lurie, thanks for your prompt response. To be perfectly clear, since LTSC 2021 has only 5 years of support - we see no valid reason for adopting this new version whatsoever. For new LTSC deployments going forward, we will continue to roll out LTSC 2019 (1809). For new information worker desktops, we will continue to deploy Windows 10 SAC as originally instructed by Microsoft.

We may look into LTSC IoT 2021. But as others have already mentioned - we find the current distribution and licensing of IoT to be extremely constraining therefore making deployment of IoT limited and impractical in most cases.

Microsoft

@ajc196 Please DM me your contact info

Occasional Visitor

@AngryJohnny75 we will have issues with the fact that LTSC 2019 only supports up to 10th generation intel, right?

Frequent Contributor

I have to speak generally on this subject (not my area of responsibility) but there are many orgs that are under State/gov/EU regulations when it comes to purchasing. 

Today it's easy because there is only one Microsoft to buy our Licenses from (including LTC).
If we have to get them from an IOT vendor it will force many orgs to do purchasing rounds with increased costs as result.
Worse is the loss of flexibility. A License bought through Dell for example can't be moved to an HP. That will also increase license and operational costs.
The use case here is a desktop used as kiosk machine and the need for the kiosk goes away - the desktop gets reimaged with standard enterprise making it org standard and freeing that ltsc license. The next day a new kiosk need arises in an office 400 miles away. Today you would take a spare usable desktop at that office and reimage it with the ltsc image and done. With IoT you now must have machines of both types (standard and IoT) in store and you as result again will have increased costs for logistics

Frequent Contributor

Also:

With a 10 year support cycle and a three year release cycle you can get 9 years out of your LTSC build with a year for dev and deployment.

With a 5 year support and 3 year release, you will have to reimage for every release once again increasing operational costs a lot

Frequent Contributor

@matsmcp depends how you deploy. even in small businesses we achieved a near zero touch deployment using MDT, WinPKG and MSI based GPO installations with no golden images. If you need the profiles USMT is a thing or UE-V if you have SA. Is this is a way to go?

 

Frequent Contributor

A License bought through Dell for example can't be moved to an HP. That will also increase license and operational costs.

 

please revisit Terms Of Use of LTSC 1809 and later. Windows Server OEM licenses can be transferred in EU (finally). So I would be shocked if they applied local legislation only into the ToS of Server LTSC and not Client LTSC.

Frequent Contributor

@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus I don't understand what you mean depends on how you deploy.
It still means costs and downtime on that box regardless of how you do it. If you have to do it three times it costs 3X as much as doing it once

Since 10 year support only will apply to IoT not to standard OEM you must get the IoT version and none of my vendors can supply it without selling it as a part of a HW - Can you buy it as a license only?

Senior Member

please revisit Terms Of Use of LTSC 1809 and later. Windows Server OEM licenses can be transferred in EU (finally). So I would be shocked if they applied local legislation only into the ToS of Server LTSC and not Client LTSC.

These terms of use for Windows 10 LTSC 1809 are likely not applicable to Windows 10 LTSC IoT going forward. The concern here is how do we maintain 10 year support by obtaining LTSC IoT licenses that can be transferred between hardware manufacturers. 

Occasional Visitor
Microsoft still doesn't get it. After reading the comments above, the admins who are angry about LTSC dropping to 5 years have a point. LTSC should be 10 years, standard Enterprise should be 5 years. The push back you are getting from standard desktops is that admins don't want twice yearly upgrades.  How about this:
 
Windows 10 Home and Pro:  Semi-Annual Channel
Windows 10 Enterprise:  5 years
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC/IoT:  10 years
Senior Member

There is a difference between an operating system like Windows 7 and it's 10-year-support and Windows 10 LTSC. Windows 7 got updates to support new hardware over teh years. Windows 10 LTSC 1809 f. e. will not get such updates (if I'm right). Sooner or later the available hardware on the market changes. So what shell I do with an operating system what have support for 10 years but after four, five or even seven years there is no hardware I can install it on? Maybe some people have special hardware what will be sold an supported over such a long time but I'm in doubt that this is the case for the most of us. For the moment we use Windows 10 LTSC 1809. But we believe that we must change to a newer version of Windows 10 LTSC before the support for 1809 ends because of the hardware problem. 

Frequent Contributor

@Barbara Joost the situation is even worse based on your scenario. 
LTSC does only support the hardware available at release. Means if 2022 LTSC is released it should support Intel 11 Gen but not the 12 Gen (a new gen is released every year on the current schedule), or to take it to AMD it should support Ryzen 5000 CPUs but not the next gen.

Occasional Visitor

Hello,

 

We were using Win LTSC with Surface Pro 7 with no issues. As we are moving to Surface Pro 7+, LTSC is no more compatible with respect to drivers. We have placed ordering 500 Surface Pro 7+ on hold due to the driver compatibility issue. Please advise on fixing the driver issue with LTSC and Surface Pro 7+

Senior Member

@K_Wester-Ebbinghaus That's the point. We use a for our LTSC installations special device by Dell what is especially certified for Windows 10 LTSC by Dell. Using devices certified for Windows 10 LTSC was the hard condition under which we allowed LTSC in our environment. As long Dell sells this device in the given hardware configuration we can use Windows 10 LTSC 1809. But sooner or later Dell must follow the change in the CPU architecture in the technical world around. At this point we must change to a newer version of LTSC too in the case we buy new machines. I'm sure this will not take 10 years. This will happen earlier. So it makes not so much sens in my eyes to support an LTSC over 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Occasional Visitor

Can you clarify what "Windows 10 Client LTSC" is in the third paragraph?

Microsoft

@robinmholt LTSC is Windows 10 Enterprise Long-term servicing channel. Here's a link on docs for information about what it is, and what's available in the different versions: Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC - What's new in Windows | Microsoft Docs

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