It doesn’t matter if you’re running Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, or any other version, they all have a lifecycle. This cycle begins when the product is first made available to the public, and it ends when Microsoft stops supporting it. Being aware of the lifecycle of a product, in this case Windows 10, is useful to know when to update and upgrade.
In the case of Windows 10, feature updates are released twice a year through the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), which is governed by the new Modern Lifecycle Policy. This new policy simply means that the operating system is offered as a service, it’s serviced and supported continuously, and it’s never considered a complete product.
As long as you’re using the current version with a genuine license, Windows 10 will remain supported. Microsoft maintains a version (feature update) for at least 18 months since it was first released to the public, and during this time, you want to continuously install cumulative updates (quality updates) to keep your device secure and to receive fixes. Usually, you want to install the latest version before the version you’re running reaches its end of service.
|Windows 10 version history||Official name||Date of availability||End of service|
|Windows 10, version 1809||In development (TBD)||October 2018||TBD|
|Windows 10, version 1803||April 2018 Update||April 30, 2018||November 12, 2019|
|Windows 10, version 1709||Fall Creators Update||October 17, 2017||April 9, 2019|
|Windows 10, version 1703||Creators Update||April 5, 2017||October 9, 2018|
|Windows 10, version 1607||Anniversary Update||August 2, 2016||April 10, 2018|
|Windows 10, version 1511||November Update||November 10, 2015||October 10, 2017|
|Windows 10, version 1507||Initial Release||July 29, 2015||May 9, 2017|
Depending of the edition of Windows 10 installed on your computer, it’s possible to defer feature updates using the Windows Update advanced options. While this option is meant for organizations, anyone can delay a new feature update, typically, to avoid errors and other problems that are known to appear during the early days.
Windows 10 downloads and installs cumulative and feature updates automatically, but if you don’t know the version you’re running there are a number of ways you can check and figure out if you need to upgrade to stay supported.
If you’re running Windows 10 Enterprise or Education edition for version 1511, 1607, 1703 and 1709, Microsoft is expending to support for an additional six months after the original end of service date.
Also, if you’re running Windows 10 Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) editions, then the lifecycle is a lot different. Windows 10 LTSB is perhaps the best edition if you’re not into feature updates. They’re editions supported for up to 10 years, there’s not bloatware, and they don’t get feature updates.
|Windows 10 version history||Date of availability||Mainstream support end date||Extended support end date|
|Windows 10 Enterprise 2016 LTSB|
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise 2016 LTSB
|August 2, 2016||October 12, 2021||October 13, 2026|
|Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB|
Windows 10 IoT Enterprise 2015 LTSB
|July 29, 2015||October 13, 2020||October 14, 2025|
Windows 10 LTSB is an option for Windows 10 Enterprise, and it’s only available for Volume License customers, or with an MSDN subscription.