Microsoft is giving its enterprise and education customers a little more time before their older versions of Windows 10 begin slipping out of support.
Since the arrival of Windows 10, Microsoft has taken a “Windows as a service” approach to delivering operating system updates. Twice a year, users can expect a major feature update apart from monthly or emergency security patches like the ones that were recently issued to address the Meltdown and Spectre CPU vulnerabilities.
Commercial customers, many of whom are accustomed to a slower release cadence and require time to ensure that their business applications run smoothly with the new code, often don’t update to these Semi-Annual Channel releases right away. They can defer major updates by up to 365 days using Windows Update for Business, but the 18-month countdown until each Windows 10 feature update reaches the end of support keeps ticking away.
In November, Microsoft announced a six-month extension for Windows 10 Enterprise version 1511 and Windows 10 Education version 1511, establishing a new “additional servicing” deadline of April 10, 2018, from Oct. 10, 2017. On. Feb. 1, company executives announced similar extensions for subsequent releases.
To help customers like Accenture that are still transitioning to Microsoft’s new software-delivery model, the company announced “an additional six months of servicing for the Enterprise and Education editions of Windows 10, versions 1607, 1703, and 1709,” stated Bernardo Caldas, general manager for Windows, and Jared Spataro, general manager for Office at Microsoft, in a blog post. “This extension will be offered via normal channels.”
Under the new scheme, Windows 10 version 1607, also known as the Anniversary Update, will no longer be supported on Oct. 9, six months after its original April 10 end-of-support date. Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703) and Fall Creators Update (version 1709) have new end-of-support dates of April 9, 2019, and Oct. 8, 2019, respectively. Paid extended support options will be available for Windows 10 version 1607 and following releases.
Microsoft Pegs Office 2019 Support to Windows 10
Changes are also afoot in another of the software maker’s big product lines.
In the same advisory, executives revealed that the upcoming Office 2019 client applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype for Business) require a supported Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel release, a 2018 Long-Term Servicing Channel release of Windows 10 Enterprise or the next Long-Term Servicing Channel release of Windows Server. Long-Term Servicing Channel, formerly the Long-Term Servicing Branch, offers five years of mainstream support and five years of extended support.
Office 2019 is expected to ship sometime in the second half of 2018, preceded by preview versions in the second quarter. The new client applications won’t use a traditional installer; rather they will rely on Click-to-Run, a streaming and virtualization technology used to install Office applications and updates.
Ditching older versions of Windows is a gamble. The current crop of Office 2016 applications is supported on multiple versions of the operating system, back to Windows 7 SP1. According to web analytics firm Net Applications, Windows 7 remains the leading desktop operating system (44.81 percent), followed by Windows 10 (28.19 percent).