Companies can skip a Windows 10 upgrade, but they have to hurry

A temporary six-month extension of support to the two feature upgrades issued in 2017 will allow corporations to ease into the quick release schedule Microsoft is pushing.

hand at keyboard with Windows logo

Enterprises have a short-lived opportunity to slow the Microsoft upgrade train by skipping one of this year's Windows 10 refreshes, as well as one of the two slated to ship in 2019, according to Gartner and Microsoft's own support scheduling.

Because of a temporary six-month extension of support to the two feature upgrades Microsoft issued last year, corporations will be able to ease into the rapid release slate that the Redmond, Wash. developer has demanded customers accept. "Organizations wanting to deploy only one update in 2018 and 2019 and skip one may do so and have a lesser chance of their PCs falling out of support," said Gartner researchers Stephen Kleynhans and Michael Silver about the support supplement.

Late last year, Microsoft said it was adding six months to the support calendar for Windows 10 1511, the November 2015 feature upgrade, "to help some early enterprise adopters that are still finishing their transition to Windows as a service." The move lengthened support - security patches and other bug fixes - from a standard 18 months to 24 months. In February, Microsoft did the same for versions 1609, 1703 and 1709, the upgrades released in mid-2016, and in April and October of 2017, respectively.

The additional support time - a 33% increase - gives businesses and organizations running Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education a maximum of two full years between upgrades. Those customers have been pressing Microsoft for just that amount of time; they felt they would not be able to keep up with a twice-annual refresh cadence, Kleynhans said.

The 18-month support span has proven very tough for enterprises; a year ago, Computerworld spelled out the slim margin of error organizations - as little as two months - had to work with to skip every other upgrade. But it would be feasible on a 24-month support schedule.

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