Windows 10 Version 1507 Now Losing Support in May
Microsoft clarified earlier this month that the end-of-support date for Windows 10 version 1507 will occur sometime in May, not in March as previously suggested.
The notion that support will end in May for Windows 10 version 1507 comes from a Feb. 3 update to a Jan. 19 "Windows for IT Pros" blog post, so IT pros looking for guidance may not have noticed the shift. The updated notice is a single sentence, stating that the "end of servicing for Windows 10, version 1507 will now occur in May." The exact date in May wasn't mentioned.
I asked Microsoft's press relations whether the May date was an extended date or if there was some sort of misunderstanding from past communications about how the Windows 10 update cycle works. I also asked for the specific date in May when support will end. I was informed only that there was nothing more to share.
The Update Model
Windows 10 has a 10-year product support lifecycle, like past Windows client operating system releases, but organizations have to hop to major branch releases of it to stay supported. Microsoft has adopted a new agile development scheme with Windows 10 in which feature updates to the OS are frequently released.
IT pros are expected to accept monthly Windows 10 feature changes, along with about two major feature updates per year. This approach is a switch from the traditional service-pack model that is seen with Windows 7 and older Windows versions, which only delivered OS feature updates maybe once every two years or so. Rather than test each Windows 10 feature change before updating a computing environment, Microsoft expects IT shops to adopt a triage approach, with some end users getting the early test releases of Windows 10.
The new update approach with Windows 10 also is a little different because Microsoft releases branches of the OS. The "current branch for business" (CBB) release is the Windows 10 branch that's deemed most stable for production environments. There's also a "current branch" release for Windows 10, but it's released mostly for testing purposes.
Branches of major Windows 10 come to an end before the total 10 years of support. It's not exactly clear when a branch will end, although Microsoft has previously explained that CBB releases are supported for a "minimum of 18 months."
Microsoft also previously explained that when a new CBB gets released on the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), it's a signal to IT pros that they have 60 days to move off a previous CBB release. The thinking seemed to be that Microsoft's planned release of Windows 10 version 1607 from the VLSC on Jan. 26, 2017 was triggering a 60-day "grace period" to move off Windows 10 version 1507. Based on that assumption, the VLSC release of Windows 10 version 1607 would signal that Windows 10 version 1507 would reach its end-of-support date in late March. However, Microsoft now says that the Windows 10 version 1507 CBB hits the end of support in May.
IT pros can reference this Windows 10 release information page to see when each major build of the OS was released. It lists CB and CBB release dates, but it doesn't show the end-of-support dates. Those dates have to be estimated, it seems. If an organization doesn't move off an expiring CBB, the OS continues to work, but no more updates arrive, including security patches, so tracking CBB moves is likely an important consideration for IT shops.
The only escape from this scheme is to use Microsoft's "long-term servicing branch" (LTSB) option, which doesn't deliver frequent OS feature updates. Microsoft doesn't recommend business use that option, though. It's intended for Internet of Things types of scenarios where machines can't tolerate frequent OS updates, according to Microsoft's past explanations, although LTSB is actually similar in many ways to Microsoft's old service-pack model.
Microsoft's service-model explanations for Windows 10 have kind of dribbled out over time. Windows 10 first saw commercial daylight about 1.5 years ago as version 1507, but the update model maybe is still a work in progress. CBB end dates can vary because branch release dates can vary. Perhaps that's why Microsoft doesn't list the CBB end dates, but they are key markers for IT pros trying to keep Windows 10 computing environments properly updated.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.