Microsoft extends Windows 10 update support cycle for Enterprise, Education

With the launch of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft switched to what it calls a "Windows as a Service" model, promising more frequent feature updates in lieu of the slower major releases seen in years past. But, over time, it's become apparent that this twice-per-year update cadence has become a bit of a headache for IT admins as they race the clock against each update's 18-month support cycle. Today, Microsoft announced it's giving businesses a break by, most notably, extending its support lifecycle for current and future Windows 10 updates.

Starting today, all currently supported feature updates for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education will be supported for 30 months from their release date. That gives administrators a bit of added breathing room for ensuring that any kinks are worked out of their systems before moving to the next supported update.

Going forward, however, things get a little more complicated. According to Microsoft, all future updates with a targeted release for the month of September will be supported for 30 months. Those targeted for March releases will be supported for 18 months from their release date. The difference, Microsoft says, will give customers with longer deployment cycles the option of sticking with September releases, while those who want to update faster can opt for March releases.

For the average consumer, things will remain the same with an 18-month support cycle for Windows 10 Home and Pro. The extended support cycle for semi-annual updates will apply only to Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions beginning with Windows 10 versions 1809 and 1903.

Bolstering app compatibility and deployment

In addition to the new support timelines, administrators are also getting a couple of new tools to help ensure app compatibility. The first of the tools is called "Desktop Analytics," and it's designed to give organizations more insight into their update readiness based on the fleet of apps they're running. From Microsoft:

Today, we're announcing that Windows Analytics is being expanded to Desktop Analytics—a new cloud-based service integrated with ConfigMgr and designed to create an inventory of apps running in the organization, assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, and create pilot groups that represent the entire application and driver estate across a minimal set of devices.

The company is also launching "Desktop App Assure," a new service that should help quickly address any issues with app compatibility issues on Windows 10. If you run into issues with a particular app following a Windows 10 or Office 365 ProPlus update, App Assure can be used to file a ticket through FastTrack, and a Microsoft engineer will then follow up with you to work through the problem until it is fixed.

Desktop App Assure is expected to launch in preview in North America on October 1. The service is expected to become available worldwide by February 1, 2019.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl