Microsoft's shift to Windows-as-a-service (WaaS) for Windows 10 yielded a repetitive, predictable schedule of version release and support expiration dates for Windows 10.
Although consumers can essentially ignore any schedule — Microsoft decides when their devices are upgraded — business customers and their IT personnel should be marking the calendar with the important upcoming events.
That's gotten harder as Microsoft has rearranged, rejiggered and repositioned Windows 10's support in the three years since its debut. Most recently, Microsoft again demolished the itinerary of version appearances and disappearances by extending support from 18 months to 30 months for Enterprise and Education. "This will give customers on those versions more time for change management as they move to a faster update cycle," argued Jared Spataro, the top marketing executive for Office and Windows, in a Sept. 6 post to a company blog.
To keep up with 10's WaaS schedule, pencil in these dates.
Sept. 11, 2018
Windows 10 1809 — the second and final Semi-Annual Channel release for the year — rolls out sometime between now and late October. (Because the April 30 launch of 1803 was almost two months later than Microsoft's professed plan, Computerworld cannot be more specific on future feature upgrade releases than this big-as-a-barn-door range of six-to-eight weeks.)
Oct. 9, 2018
Microsoft retires Windows 10 1703, the early-2017 feature upgrade labeled Creators Update, for customers running Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Pro Workstation.
Users running Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education can rest easy: After the Sept. 6 support revamp – Microsoft has reshuffled support more times than a casino dealer does a card shoe – those editions are owed another 12 months of support.
Jan. 15, 2019
Around this date, Microsoft will declare 1809 as thoroughly tested by consumers, and thus, ready for wide deployment throughout the enterprise. The late 2018 update will start appearing on Windows 10 Pro, Pro Workstation and Enterprise PCs that rely on Windows Update for Business (WUfB).
March 12, 2019
Windows 10 1903 – probably named "April 2019 Update" – launches between this date and late April.
April 9, 2019
Microsoft stops serving security updates to Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Pro Workstation running version 1709, aka 2017's "Fall Creators Update."
Also, on this date, Microsoft stops serving updates to Windows 10 Enterprise 1607 and Windows 10 Education 1607 – dubbed "Anniversary Update" – ending the 32-month-and-change support lifecycle for the feature upgrade that debuted in August 2016.
Version 1607 will be the first Windows 10 feature upgrade to accumulate 30 or more months of support. Others will follow with 30 or more months of support, including 1703, 1709 and 1803, thanks to Microsoft's rejiggered support rules. "All currently supported feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions (versions 1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803) will be supported for 30 months from their original release date," Spataro said.
July 15, 2019
Around this date, Microsoft will notify customers – on a post to a company blog – that Windows 10 1903 is stable enough to deploy to all corporate PCs and will simultaneously begin seeding Windows 10 Pro, Pro Workstation and Enterprise with the upgrade via Windows Update for Business (WUfB).
Sept. 10, 2019
Windows 10 1909, or "October 2019 Update," begins reaching users at some point between this date and the end of October.
Oct. 8, 2019
Microsoft delivers the final updates to Windows 10 Enterprise 1703 and Windows 10 Education 1703 – aka "Creators Update" – after supporting those SKUs (stock-keeping units) for 30 months, or two-and-a-half years.
Customers running 1703 must migrate to a newer feature upgrade – 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903 or even the likely-just-released 1909 – to continue to receive security patches for Windows 10.
Nov. 12, 2019
Microsoft halts support for Windows 10 1803 on Windows 10 Home, Pro and Pro Workstation.
This date is of interest because it shows that Microsoft starts counting support from the actual launch of the feature upgrade, not from the supposed March and September release targets.
Microsoft sets the end-of-support date on the first Patch Tuesday – the second Tuesday of the month – following the 18th or 30th month anniversary of release. For example, Microsoft started shipping 1803 on April 30, 2018, making the 18th-month anniversary Oct. 30, 2019. But the stop-support date for Windows 10 1803 has been penciled in as this date, Nov. 12, 2019, the next Patch Tuesday.
Jan. 14, 2020
Microsoft will retire Windows 7 from support on this date, marking the general deadline for enterprises to replace that OS with Windows 10.
There will be laggards, and some companies will pay to add support by purchasing an Extended Security Updates (ESU) plan, however pricey, to keep critical and important patches coming to Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Education.
It wasn't a surprise that Microsoft decided to dangle a more-money-for-more-support deal before enterprises. Windows 7 is expected to remain on huge numbers of PCs come the 2020 retirement, up to 34% of all Windows personal computers by Computerworld's latest calculation.
Jan. 15, 2020
Somewhere near this date, Microsoft will proclaim 1909 as sufficiently tested (by consumers) and ready for wide deployment (by commercial customers). The September update will begin appearing on Windows 10 Pro, Pro Workstation and Enterprise PCs that rely on Windows Update for Business (WUfB).
March 10, 2020
Windows 10 2003 – likely tapped as "April 2020 Update" – releases sometime between this date and late April.
April 14, 2020
Microsoft strikes Windows 10 Home 1809, Pro 1809 and Pro Workstation 1809 from the support list on this date or later, stopping security and non-security updates to devices running what Microsoft blandly labeled "October 2018 Update." (The most likely alternate stop date would be May 12, 2020, which could come into play if Microsoft released 1809 after Oct. 31, 2019.)
Also slated for today: Final security and non-security patches and fixes for Windows 10 Enterprise 1709 and Education 1709, the fall 2017 feature upgrade Microsoft tagged "Fall Creators Update." The date marks the end of 30 months of support.
July 15, 2020
Somewhere around this time Microsoft will tell commercial customers that Windows 10 2003 has been tested enough to roll out to corporate PCs. Machines running Windows 10 Pro, Pro Workstation or Enterprise will start seeing the upgrade arrive through Windows Update for Business (WUfB).
Sept. 8, 2020
Microsoft starts delivery of Windows 10 2009, aka "October 2020 Update," between this date and the end of October.
Oct. 13, 2020
"Mainstream" support ends for Windows 10 Enterprise 2015 LTSB (Long-term Servicing Branch), the static build Microsoft offers customers who can't - or won't - adopt the more-releases-less-support model that underpins Windows-as-a-service.
Although this original LTSB (a second was released in August 2016 and a third was to appear in the fall of 2018) has five more years of "Extended" support coming to it, this date ends some support offerings, such as feature change requests and non-security bug fixes. For more information on what's included in mainstream and extended support, refer to this support document.
Nov. 10, 2020
Microsoft purges Windows 10 Home 1903, Pro 1903 and Pro Workstation 1903 from the support roster on this date or later.
Meanwhile, Microsoft hands out the last updates to Windows 10 Enterprise 1803 and Education 1803, calling it quits for support that stretched a bit more than 30 months.