In a statement a few weeks ago Microsoft announced significant changes to how long Windows 10 LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) is supported.
I have been working with about 30 customers around Windows 10 since the launch of Windows 10 almost six years ago. I am the strongest of cloud advocates and for Windows as a service, but I must as a professional adjust and look at customer needs and conditions as well as cost efficiency. Among all deployment projects and customers I have worked with, only in two of those cases did we have to go with LTSC edition of Windows 10, after very careful and thorough evaluation of cloud and Windows as a Service being the natural top choices.
The reason for choosing LTSC with these two customers are simple and has been the same in both cases; they are ideal for devices that typically do not have any dedicated users and serve one purpose only, and that is to display information or let users interact with it through a single application as a kiosk. Often the hardware is not easily accessible. These devices must in many cases also be up and running 24/7 with no interruptions.
Another aspect to take into consideration is that the business does not care if it is Windows 10 version X or whatever version of anything if the monitor is displaying the information or performing what the business needs are.
Currently with 10 years support – Fire and forget
Windows 10 LTSC version 2019: Deploy to a computer purchased and it can run theoretically to January 2029. Typically, with 10 years support, if you deploy new hardware with the latest Windows 10 LTSC version you are good for up to 7-9 years. You will not have to touch the device until it is time to replace the computer after X number of years.
After Microsoft changing to 5 years support – Additional work and costs with no business value
Windows 10 LTSC 2022 (I guess 2022 will be the name as that applies to Windows Server 2022 which is based on the same bits and bytes) it will be supported to say fall 2025. If a new computer is installed in 2023 with Windows 10 LTSC 2022, it will have support for an additional 2 years, and at some point, before reaching the of support, it will have to be upgraded to a new version to remain supported for additionally five years.
The huge problem here is that this bring not only doubled license cost (or even more), but also mean that more work by IT will be required to upgrade the machines. This requires development of upgrade process and a lot of testing. The manhours required are at least three figures and will also involve and impact the business, with once again, no added business value whatsoever.
As this is often special hardware it is often placed in physical locations where the computers are not easily accessible, and the lifetime will likely exceed the typical lifetime of a device. And the fact that the hardware is placed in physical tight areas are also driving additional costs to exchange as there often needs to be special glass or metal work included.
Microsoft must reconsider to keep the support lifecycle for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC at 10 years. Switching to Windows 10 IoT is not an option as that it not doable in terms of licensing as IoT is not available on enterprise agreements or through volume licensing, limited number of OEMs and re-imaging!