Windows 10 update (and retirement) calendar: Mark these dates

Windows 10 update (and retirement) calendar: Mark these dates

Microsoft is releasing new versions of Windows 10 on a set schedule – and just as regularly retiring older versions from support. Here are all the dates you need to know through mid-2021.

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 the operating system.

At least in theory. In reality, Microsoft keeps rearranging, rejiggering and repositioning Windows 10’s support and update practices. Last year, Microsoft monkeyed with 10’s arrival and departure itinerary by extending support for Enterprise and Education to 30 months. This year the company said it was letting Windows 10 Home users decide when to download and install feature upgrades.

“[The new] ‘Download and install now’ option provides users a separate control to initiate the installation of a feature update on eligible devices with no known key blocking compatibility issues,” wrote Microsoft executive Mike Fortin in an April 4 post to a company blog.

With that option now available to Windows 10 1803 and Windows 10 1809, it’s time for consumers to pay attention to impending dates, just as business customers and IT personnel have been doing since Windows 10’s opening days.

Everyone should be marking the calendar with the important Windows events. To keep up with 10’s WaaS schedule, pencil in these dates.

aug 20 2019
IDG/Gregg Keizer

Aug. 20, 2019

Around this date, Microsoft will notify commercial customers – probably via a message to the Windows release health dashboard – that Windows 10 1903 is stable enough to widely deploy to corporate PCs.

In mid-July, Microsoft told IT administrators that 1903 was ready to “begin targeted deployments,” a reference to the first stage of a feature upgrade rollout, one that harked to the Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted), aka SAC-T, step in Windows servicing that was eliminated by the company.

Actually, the Aug. 20 date is a Computerworld guess. Windows 10 1903 is the first feature upgrade after Microsoft abolished SAC-T and it’s unclear what the intervals will be between an upgrade’s release, targeted deployment and full deployment. In lieu of a pattern, Computerworld used the 60-day mark of July 23 – Microsoft had added 60 days to 1903’s deployment as a one-time compensation for the SAC-T deletion so as not to immediately begin automatic installs to commercial customers who had pegged the SAC-T milestone as their start date – and then added another four weeks to reach the Aug. 20 prediction.

Even so, we feel confident in the forecast; Aug. 20 will be about three months after the launch of 1903, a significant interval considering that the upgrade will be supported for just 18 months.

Sept. 10, 2019

Windows 10 1909, or “October 2019 Update,” begins reaching users at some point between this date and the end of October. Microsoft has said September is the target for this release, the first “service pack” of Windows 10.

In early July, Microsoft again revamped its OS update model by announcing that this fall’s release would be “a scoped set of features” with a “smaller set of enhancements.” Computerworld decoded the multi-part announcement and concluded that Microsoft had ditched the idea of generating more than one feature upgrade annually. Instead, it will produce a single substantial refresh each spring. A fall upgrade will remain on the calendar – primarily because it provides a more generous 30 months of support to Windows 10 Enterprise customers – but it will be a minor refresh, essentially a retread of the spring upgrade, in this case Windows 10 1903.

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 2019IDG/Gregg Keizer

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.

Clear? Good.

Dec. 10, 2019

Somewhere near this date, Microsoft will proclaim Windows 10 1909 as sufficiently tested by the company, Insider participants and courageous (some might call them foolhardy) early adopters, and ready for wide deployment by commercial customers.

The most likely location for the proclamation: the Windows release health dashboard.

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.

jan. 2020IDG/Gregg Keizer

There will be laggards, and some companies will pay to add support by purchasing an Extended Security Updates (ESU) plan to keep critical and important patches coming to Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise. Microsoft began selling ESU on April 1, 2019.

Costs for ESU start out low – $25 or $50 per year per device – but double each year, ending at $100 or $200 per device for the third and final year. (Windows 10 Enterprise and Microsoft 365 Enterprise licensees are eligible for the lower of the two prices.)

It wasn’t a surprise that Microsoft dangled a more-money-for-more-support deal in front of enterprises. Windows 7 is expected to remain on large numbers of PCs come the 2020 retirement, up to approximately 31% of all Windows personal computers by Computerworld‘s latest calculation.

Jan. 21, 2020

Somewhere around this date, Microsoft starts to automatically upgrade Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro PCs running version 1809 – the official name, “Windows 10 October 2019 Update” – even if users have not selected the “Download and install now” option.

When Microsoft announced “Download and install now,” it reserved the right to upgrade Windows 10 PCs when “Windows 10 devices are at, or within several months of reaching, end of service.” In 2019, the company began applying this exception 16 weeks before the expiration of 1809’s predecessor, Windows 10 1803.

Using that same 16-week lead time – and 1809’s May 12, 2020, end-of-support deadline – Computerworld came up with this date.

March 10, 2020

Windows 10 2003 – likely tapped as “April 2020 Update” – releases sometime between this date and late April.

Because this feature upgrade has been in testing by Insider participants for more than a year, it’s possible that the release date will be nearer the beginning of the date range than the end.

If Microsoft follows 2019’s testing practice, it will have started showing next year’s spring feature upgrade – Windows 10 2103 – to Insider volunteers several weeks before this date.

To recap: The major-minor cadence Microsoft unveiled in 2019 means that rather than have Insiders test each feature upgrade for about six months prior to launch, it will test the spring upgrade for at least 12 months. The fall “service pack” upgrade will be tested separately for between two and a half and three months.

april 2020IDG/Gregg Keizer

April 14, 2020

Microsoft serves up 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 nearly 31 months of support.

May 12, 2020

Microsoft pushes the final patches and fixes to Windows 10 1809 on Home, Pro and Pro Workstation.

may 12 2020IDG/Gregg Keizer

Like its immediate predecessor, 1809 was weeks late getting to customers, so Microsoft extended support by a month. This date also confirmed that Microsoft sets the end-of-support date on the first Patch Tuesday following the 18th or 30th month anniversary of release.

July 14, 2020

Near this date, Microsoft will tell commercial customers that Windows 10 2003 has been tested enough to deploy to all corporate PCs. Microsoft will publish this milestone message on the Windows release health dashboard.

Once again, this is an estimate based on scanty evidence. As of August 2019, Microsoft had not yet issued one of these “deploy widely” notifications, leaving Computerworld to take a stab at a date by adding another month to Microsoft’s two-month interval from launch to target deployment.

One factor in noting 2003’s business-ready status is that relatively few corporate customers will bother installing the feature upgrade because of its limited (18-month) support lifecycle.

Aug. 11, 2020

Microsoft starts to automatically upgrade Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro PCs running version 1903, which is also known as “Windows 10 May 2019 Update.”

When Microsoft announced the “Download and install now” option in early 2019, it reserved the right to upgrade Windows 10 PCs when they were “at, or within several months of reaching, end of service.”

Windows 10 1903 falls off the support list Dec. 8, 2020, or 16 weeks from this date.

Sept. 8, 2020

Microsoft starts delivery of Windows 10 2009, aka “October 2020 Update,” between this date and the end of October.

As with last year’s 1909, the service pack style of this fall “upgrade” means that it will effectively be a rerun of the spring’s 2003, along with bug fixes since the latter’s launch and, perhaps, a few new features. Because of its contents – little if anything truly new – it’s possible it will be available early in the above date range.

Also like last year’s fall refresh, 2009 will be what most mid- and large-sized organizations adopt – assuming they don’t skip it in an attempt to run 1909 for nearly two years – because of the 30-month support given to Windows 10 Enterprise.

oct 13 2020IDG/Gregg Keizer

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 debuted in November 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 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.

dec 2020 newIDG/Gregg Keizer

Dec. 8, 2020

Microsoft purges all forms of Windows 10 1903 – Home, Pro, Pro Workstation, Enterprise and Education – from the support roster on this date.

Unlike the fall feature upgrades, which are maintained for 30 months for Enterprise and Education customers, those released in the spring – marked yy03 – come with 18 months of support for all editions.

Dec. 22, 2020

Microsoft begins to forcibly upgrade Windows 10 Home 1909 and Windows 10 Pro 1909 PCs to Windows 10 2009, last fall’s service pack-esque update.

Remember that when Microsoft announced the “Download and install now” option nearly two years ago that it reserved the right to upgrade Windows 10 PCs when they neared “end of service.” Microsoft cited security concerns for holding the forced-upgrade card.

Windows 10 Home/Pro/Pro Workstation 1909 should exit support at or around April 13, 2021, or 16 weeks from this date.

Jan. 12, 2021

Somewhere around this date, Microsoft will inform businesses that Windows 10 2009 — the service pack issued three months ago — is ready to deploy throughout their environments. This message, for it will be just that, posted with nary an announcement except for a brief line from the Windows Update Twitter account, will appear on the Windows release health dashboard.

march 9 2021 IDG/Gregg Keizer

March 9, 2021

Windows 10 2103 – probably nicknamed “April 2021 Update” – releases sometime between this date and late April.

This feature upgrade will have been in the hands of Insiders for at least a year, making it likely that the release date will be either one of two Patch Tuesdays, this date or April 13, 2021.

Because of its 18-month support lifecycle, this refresh will be installed primarily by Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro customers.

April 13, 2021

Microsoft serves the last security patches and other bug fixes to Windows 10 Home 1909, Windows 10 Pro 1909 and Windows 10 Pro Workstation 1909, wrapping up 18 months of support.

This date assumes that Microsoft first offered 1909 on Oct. 8, 2019. Computerworld believes that launch date to be conservative; one earlier is quite possible because of the service pack nature of the refresh.

may 11 2021 IDG/Gregg Keizer

May 11, 2021

Microsoft delivers the final updates for Windows 10 Enterprise 1809 and Windows 10 Education 1809, ending 30 months of support for the fall feature upgrade.

Customers running 1809 must migrate to a newer refresh – 1903, 1909, 2003, 2009 or even the likely-just launched 2103 – to continue to receive security patches. Windows 10 Enterprise 2009 and Windows 10 Education 2009 would seem be the best bet, since they have the most support remaining (about 22 months from this date).


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