Want to keep Windows 10 secure? This is how much Microsoft will charge you

Hint: It will keep going up

Updated Microsoft has laid out the ground rules for getting Windows 10 Extended Security Updates (ESU) as market share figures indicate users are still giving Windows 11 a wide berth.

In a post published yesterday, Microsoft detailed the ways and costs of keeping Windows 10 security updates flowing past the October 14, 2025, cut-off date. The prices will be steep for most users unless you're just using your Windows 10 device to access a Windows 11 Cloud PC through Windows 365.

If you want an activation key to apply to a Windows 10 device, you'll pay $61 per device for Year 1. However, if you're using a Microsoft cloud-based update management tool like Intune, the price is discounted to $45.

And that Year 1 is significant. Microsoft noted: "The price will double every consecutive year for a maximum of three years. If you decide to jump into the program in Year Two, you'll have to pay for Year One too, as ESUs are cumulative."

So sticking with Windows 10 and wanting security patches will get expensive rather quickly. This is a far cry from when Microsoft was ramming the OS down users' throats whether they wanted it or not.

There is an exception to the rule. Education customers – including K12 and Higher Education – can pick up the ESU program for Windows 10 for $1 in the first year, rising to $2 and $4 in the second and third years respectively.

It is a shame that such generosity is not being extended to ordinary consumers and business users with perfectly functional computers who cannot upgrade to Windows 11 due to Microsoft's draconian hardware demands.

We asked Microsoft if there were any plans to discount support for consumers without pockets deep enough to buy newer hardware, and will update should the company wish to comment.

The announcement comes as Statcounter updated its market share statistics, which, in the absence of official figures from Microsoft, give an insight into how Windows 11 adoption is going.

In March 2024, Windows 11 actually lost market share compared to Windows 10. The latter stood at 69.04 per cent, a slight uptick on the previous month, while the former dropped to 26.72 per cent.

In its post, Microsoft described pricing for Year 1 of the Windows 10 Extended Security Updates program as "similar to the Windows 7 ESU Year 1 Price."

However, it did not mention the difference in market share at the same point in the life of the operating systems.

By our reckoning, Windows 10 had pulled ahead of previous versions two and a half years after its release. Windows 11 has some way to go before performing the same feat. ®

Updated to add on April 4:

Microsoft has since been in touch to say: "Yesterday's news from Microsoft on Windows 10 ESU pricing was only for Commercial Organizations and EDU customers. Of note, the Windows IT Pro blog has been updated to include the following clarification: 'The details and pricing structure outlined in this post apply to commercial organizations only. Details will be shared at a later date for consumers and home users on our consumer end-of-support page. Educational organizations can find tailored information about Windows 10 end of support in the Microsoft Education Blog'."

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