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Axe-happy Microsoft halves support for Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Channel

Who wants to live forever?

Rationalisation of the Long Term Servicing Channels at Microsoft has led to the firm chopping the support lifecycle of the next LTSC of Windows 10 in half: from 10 to five years.

Enterprises don't like change and Microsoft has traditionally kept its operating systems going far beyond the expectations of their designers – Windows 7 only recently met its end and, years after Redmond pulled the rug from under it, Windows XP could still be found troubling the odd workstation or kiosk here and there.

To reassure companies nervous about the jump to Windows 10, Microsoft unveiled the LTSC version of the operating system. The last, Windows 10 2019 LTSC (based on 2018's Windows 10 1809, aka the October 2018 Update), was given a little over 10 years of support to January 2029.

Those days are now over. The next LTSC release of Windows 10 will occur in the second half of 2021 and switch to a five-year support lifecycle, matching that announced for Office LTSC.

"This change addresses the needs of... regulated and restricted scenarios and devices," said Microsoft. Clearly the company did not think 10 years was required.

There was reassurance for those concerned about Windows 10-based gizmos. The Windows 10 IoT LTSC is keeping the 10-year support lifecycle deemed inappropriate for its desktop cousin.

Microsoft cited feedback it had received from customers as a factor in its decision to cut the period of support and noted: "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."

The company is keen for customers to board the semi-annual update train, warning that "Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC is designed for specialty devices, and not information workers."

And there's always the IoT version for kiosk or POS-type hardware. Or one could look at the alternatives. Since the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release ("Bionic Beaver"), Canonical has provided 10-year supported editions (assuming one opts for the Extended Security Maintenance introduced for 12.04 LTS). Ten years is also a possibility for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (albeit with a few gotchas for those wishing to stick on a specific minor release).

While in recent years the Windows 10 release in the second half of the calendar year tends to be the stable, dare we say more humdrum, version of its predecessor, fans of the operating system are expecting something big and exciting after a pair of distinctly dull emissions. Just what every enterprise wants from Windows 10 LTSC. ®

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