Microsoft details servicing changes to Windows and Office, Office 2019 to be a Windows 10 exclusive
In light of many enterprises choosing to deploy Windows 10, Microsoft has made some changes to the servicing of the operating system. The company has added a six month servicing extension for all Windows 10 versions starting with the Windows 10 November Update (Version 1511). Given the biannual release cycle of major Windows 10 versions, the extended service period will give enterprises more time to evaluate new releases while providing security and performance updates to existing versions. The table below lists the new support cadence for Windows 10 releases. It should be noted that the new servicing applies only to the Enterprise and Education SKUs. Home and Pro users will be on the normal support cycle.
|Release||Release Date||End of Support||End of Additional Servicing|
|Version 1511 (November Update)||Nov 10, 2015||Oct 10, 2017||Apr 10, 2018|
|Version 1607 (Anniversary Update)||Aug 2, 2016||Apr 10, 2018||Oct 9, 2018|
|Version 1703 (Creators Update)||Apr 5, 2017||Oct 9, 2018||Apr 9 2019|
|Version 1709 (Fall Creators Update)||Oct 17, 2017||Apr 9, 2019|
Oct 8, 2019
Those using Version 1607 and above (Enterprise and Education) are also eligible for paid servicing options for longer support.
Updates to Office
Microsoft is looking to align Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10 releases for a more efficiently managed experience. To that effect, Office 365 ProPlus will not be supported on Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) releases that are not being serviced. Also, from January 14, 2020, Office 365 ProPlus will not work on the following Windows versions —
- Any Windows 10 LTSC release
- Windows Server 2016 and older
- Windows 8.1 and older
Microsoft said that the next perpetual releases of Office, Office 2019 will ship in H2 2018 and will be supported on the following Windows versions —
- Any supported Windows 10 SAC release.
- Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2018
- Next LTSC release of Windows Server
Many organizations and even home users are still on Windows 7 and, therefore, will be out of Office 2019's purview. Also, the company is moving away from the standard MSI installs and will be servicing only Click-to-Run (C2R) installs moving forward. C2R offers more manageability of installs, especially, while deploying across en masse across the organization. Office Server will continue to support MSI installs, though.
Microsoft is also reducing the extended support period for Office 2019 from 5 years to 2 years to align with the support period for Office 2016. There is no change to servicing of existing versions.
Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2018
Windows 10 Enterprise also came in a long-term service channel (LTSC) version that is meant for deployment in mission critical applications. This version of Windows is stripped off consumer features such as Cortana, Microsoft Store, Xbox Game Bar etc. Admins have to use PowerShell to deploy UWP apps if needed. The LTSC gets only absolutely critical security updates and is updated only once a year. This year, there will be a new LTSC version having the same feature set as the Windows 10 SAC at the time of release along with support for the latest silicon advancements. It comes with 5 years of mainstream and 5 years of extended support.
Enterprise adoption of Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) has been slow but ongoing. The rapid release cadence of Windows could be a cause of concern for some enterprises who rarely update software citing compatibility reasons that can affect productivity and lead to increased IT support costs. But in this age of rapidly evolving malware, enterprises also need to be proactive and ensure that they test and deploy the latest software and OS updates in a timely manner to minimize security vulnerabilities.