Microsoft adds year to Windows 10 support

Microsoft last week bolstered its claim that Windows 10 will be its last operating system by extending the OS's support lifetime to 2026.

After the release last week of Windows 10 Anniversary Update -- officially known as 1607 using the year and month label the company has adopted -- Microsoft refreshed the Windows support lifecycle database to signal a one-year extension to Windows 10 Enterprise.

Enterprise is the only SKU (stock-keeping unit) that comes in a static version that does not change during its lifespan. Dubbed "Long-term Servicing Branch," or LTSB for short, the version is intended for systems for which stability and longevity trump the latest features and the newest shiny thing.

The first LTSB build was also the first public release of July 2015, and thus identified as 1507. That version, like others launched then, was guaranteed support until Oct. 14, 2025.

But last week's 1607 was also designated as an LTSB build; Microsoft had said it would periodically label new upgrades as LTSB so that corporations could update if they wished. This newest LTSB, based on 1607, will be supported through Oct. 13, 2026, or just over 10 years from its release.

Meanwhile, consumer- and small business-grade versions, such as Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, remain wedded to support lifecycles that will end in October 2025, even though they, like Enterprise, were just refreshed with 1607.

The addition of a year to Windows 10 Enterprise's lifetime validated a prediction made more than a year ago by Steve Kleynhans, a Gartner analyst who focuses on Microsoft and its operating system. "At some point [Microsoft] will have to reset the clock to start another 10 years [of support] and mark some kind of stake in the ground," Kleynhans said in a July 2015 interview.

At the time, Kleynhans speculated that a new LTSB would be that stake.

Customers who adopted the original LTSB will receive security updates until October 2025. To obtain patches for the additional year, IT staffers will have to replace LTSB 1507 with this year's 1607.

Extending Windows 10 support to 2026 gives credence to Microsoft's touting the OS as "the last version of Windows," a phrase that, while perhaps not technically true, was meant to emphasize the software-as-a-service pivot.

More information on Windows 10's support lifecycle can be found on Microsoft's website, including dates when various versions exit "mainstream" support and when they drop off the support list.

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