The shake-up will allow businesses and schools to run a stable and secure version of Windows 10 for longer without the hassle of migrating PCs to a newer release.
The change follows an open letter to Microsoft from sysadmins, who said keeping up with the twice-yearly feature updates to Windows 10 was causing them "fatigue".
Here's what you need to know about the changes and how they affect you.
The Spring and Fall feature updates for Windows 10 were supported for 18 months from release (24 months for Windows 10 Education / Enterprise editions).
- Future feature updates for Windows 10 that roll out in the Fall, such as the upcoming Windows 10 October 2018 Update, will be supported for 30 months from release.
- Future feature updates for Windows 10 that roll out in the Spring will be supported for 18 months from release.
- All currently supported versions of Windows 10 — builds 1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803 — will be supported for 30 months from release.
Which versions does this affect?
Windows 10 Education and Enterprise editions (no change for other editions).
- Microsoft says businesses that want to run the same stable version of Windows 10 for a longer period will be able to choose the Fall release.
- The longer support guarantee for the Fall updates has been compared to the LTS releases offered by Ubuntu Linux.
- To help ensure new versions of Windows 10 are compatible with a firm's existing apps, Microsoft will release its new Desktop App Assure service to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education customers free of charge from February 2019. A preview of the service will be available to select customer from October 2018.
Extended support — under which the OS receives security and reliability fixes — until January 14, 2020.
Option for extended support until January 2023 under a new paid program.
Which versions does this affect?
Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise editions for customers using Volume Licensing.
- To receive the Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) until 2023 Microsoft customers will need to buy a licence for each Windows 7 device that needs support.
- No pricing has been released for the ESU but the cost will increase for each subsequent year of support a firm requires.
- A discount will be available to customers with Windows software assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education subscriptions.
- Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 ESU and will continue to run.
- Office 365 Pro Plus will be supported on Windows 8.1 until January 2023 and on Windows Server 2016 until October 2025.
- Microsoft will support Office 2016 connections to Office 365 services until October 2023, after which point customers will need Office 365 ProPlus or Office 2019 clients in mainstream support.
- Windows 10 April 2018 Update: An insider's guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Windows 10 after three years: A greatly improved report card (ZDNet)
- Windows 10 April 2018 Update: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Surface $400 iPad rival has Intel Pentium, Windows 10, benchmarks suggest (ZDNet)
- Don't expect Microsoft's Andromeda this year... or maybe ever (ZDNet)
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.