What's Windows 11 LTSC, and can you install it on your computer?

Surface Laptop Studio Hero
Surface Laptop Studio running Windows 11 (Image credit: Future)

Microsoft offers several editions of Windows, each designed for specific use cases. One such edition is the LTSC (Long-Term Servicing Channel), a specialized operating system version. Although the company has launched various Windows 10 long-term servicing channel releases, Windows 11 hasn't had an LTSC edition. However, the first one is expected to be available during the second half of 2024.

What is Windows 11 LTSC?

Windows 11 LTSC is a variant of the operating system designed for long-term stability and reliability, making it suitable for mission-critical systems and devices that require minimal updates and changes. 

The biggest difference between the regular and LTSC editions is that LTSC installations do not receive feature updates as frequently as the regular edition. Instead, it only receives monthly quality updates, and feature updates are offered every several (2-3) years. 

Also, this edition of the operating system doesn't come bundled with apps that may require significant updates, such as Microsoft Store, Microsoft Edge, and other default apps. 

So, out of the box, you can't install apps from the Store or Progressive Web Apps (PWAs).

Furthermore, when a new feature update is available, the installation is not mandatory, and you can use the same setup for as long as that LTSC edition is supported—usually five for the Enterprise edition and ten years for the IoT edition. If you want to install a newer version, you have to proceed with an in-place upgrade.

Also, you can upgrade from Windows 10 LTSC to Windows 11 LTSC, but only on devices meeting the minimum system requirements. Furthermore, if you have a mission-critical application already running on LTSC, it's recommended to test the new version of the operating system before upgrading to ensure compatibility and stability.

Can you install Windows 11 LTSC on your computer?

Microsoft doesn't make any release from the Long-Term Servicing Channel available for regular consumers. The company only makes it available to volume licensing customers, typically large organizations and enterprises. This means that individual users cannot purchase or download Windows 11 LTSC from Microsoft's website.

So, unless you have a special hookup, acquiring a legitimate copy is difficult.

Also, even if you are a volume licensing customer, the Windows 11 LTSC is not intended for every device in the organization. Instead, it's only intended for critical devices that must be operational for a long time without much maintenance. 

For example, the LTSC edition of Windows is usually found on medical devices, ATMs, point-of-sale systems, thin clients, and other similar devices.

What else do you need to know about the Windows 11 LTSC edition?

At the time of this writing, Microsoft has only said that Windows 11 LTSC will be available during the second half of 2024, but the company didn't mention a specific release date. However, I assume it'll be available at the same time as the Windows 11 2024 Update.

Currently, the latest edition available is Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021, which will continue to be supported until January 12, 2027. On the other hand, Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 will be supported until January 13, 2032.

Following the same naming convention, the software giant will refer to this release as "Windows 11 LTSC 2024." However, since this is the enterprise version of the operating system, it'll be officially known as "Windows 11 Enterprise LTSC 2024." Furthermore, there will also be a "Windows 11 IoT Enterprise LTSC" release.

It's important to note that the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) was previously referred to as the Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). Although Microsoft has updated its documentation, you may still find the LTSB reference, but it's all the same. 

More resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources: 

Mauro Huculak

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.