“We’ve put together some of the most important facts about Windows 11 that enterprise IT administrators will need to know”
You know, the one Microsoft made six years ago when it told customers that Windows 10 was “the last version of Windows” they’d ever see.
Instead, Windows 10 will end, just like Microsoft said it would, in late 2025. Its 10-year lifespan is the same as that of its predecessors, and it will be replaced by the next numeral and numeric label. Cheers to Windows 11!
Windows is now gone. Windows will live on. Or, to say it another way, the same as it was before.
But not really. Even though details are still sketchy, Windows 11 won’t just be Windows 10 with a new name. or changed the numbers.
We’ve put together some of the most important things that enterprise IT admins need to know about Windows 11. We’ll be back later with more information about Windows 11, Windows 10, and their business users.
Microsoft may have hinted at it before, but now we know for sure: both Windows 10 and Windows 11 will be in use at the same time. In a June 24 blog post, Wangui McKelvey, general manager of the Microsoft 365 team, said, “As you move to Windows 11, we will continue to help you with Windows 10.”
So, Windows 10 will be to Windows 11 what Windows 7 was to Windows 10. Both will get security updates every month, which is what Microsoft’s support policies are known for.
Need more evidence? Microsoft said Thursday in its first information about Windows 11 that Windows 10 and Windows 11 are meant to work together.
Windows 10 will be around until 2025
Microsoft has said before that support for Windows 10 will end on October 14, 2025, which is four years, three months and a few days from now.
Microsoft said that there will be an update with new features later in the year. They called it 21H2. Devices running Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education will get the standard 30 months of support (but only 18 months for all others). So, Windows 10 21H2 will be turned off for Enterprise/Education in the spring of 2024, but it will be turned off for Home/Pro a year earlier.
So far, Microsoft hasn’t changed the support lifecycle for Windows 10, so the 18- and 30-month periods are still in place. Microsoft has changed the length of support for individual feature upgrades before. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it made a few of them last longer. It could do this again.
But Microsoft hasn’t said if there will be more Windows 10 upgrades with new features after 21H2. Earlier this month that Microsoft will likely have to release more updates after the one this fall. Depending on how Microsoft tweaks support for these final feature upgrades, or whether it monkeys with the lifecycles at all, the firm may need to issue several upgrades to 10, perhaps up to and including 24H1 for Home and Pro, and up to 22H2 for Enterprise and Education.
The other option? Adding 18 months to the Enterprise/Education support for, say, 21H2 so that it ends on the same day that Windows 10 does, October 14, 2025.
More of what counts … support
In the past six years, Windows 10’s support has changed more than a toddler’s mind. So it was no surprise when Microsoft messed with support as it introduced Windows 11.
But it was a good thing.
Instead of 18 months, Windows 11 Home and Windows 11 Pro will be supported for 24 months.
Support for Windows 11 Enterprise and Windows 11 Education will go from 30 months to 36 months.
This change will have a few effects. First, getting rid of support for one-and-a-half years (18 months) and two-and-a-half years (30 months) will make it easier to know when that support ends. Second, with the extra support, more customers should be able to use an upgrade for longer, which means that there will be less disruptive upgrades overall.
Last, Windows comes out every year.
At the same time, Microsoft will stop upgrading Windows 10 twice a year and switch to a once-a-year schedule for Windows 11. The only new feature will come out in the second half of each year. The second half of 10 will be released to the public between the middle of October and the beginning of November.
“We’ve also heard from a lot of you that an annual update works best for you, and a simplified servicing plan makes it easier to deploy,” said McKelvey.
Absolutely. It’s too bad that people had to complain for years before Microsoft finally got the message.
Windows 11 will only come in a 64-bit version. This is different from Windows 10, which had both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
32-bit programmes will still run and work on Windows 11, but devices with 32-bit processors won’t be able to install the operating system. That shouldn’t be too hard, since those CPUs have been out of use for a decade or more.
Customers who have a legal licence for Windows 10 can move to Windows 11 for free. From Microsoft’s point of view, Windows 11 is just another set of features added to Windows 10.
On its support site, Microsoft said, “Microsoft 365 licences that come with Windows 10 licences will let you run Windows 11 on supported devices.” “If you have a volume licence, it will cover both Windows 11 and Windows 10 devices before and after the upgrade.”
Unlike the free upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 that Microsoft gave away in 2015, there is no time limit on the free upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. (These qualifications are annoying, but necessary; Microsoft seems to change its tune more often than other large software developers.)
Same tools for service
Microsoft’s McKelvey said, “Upgrading to Windows 11 is the same as getting a Windows 10 feature update.” “The familiar management experiences you have now, like Microsoft Endpoint Manager, cloud configuration, Windows Update for Business, etc., will help your environment of tomorrow as you add Windows 11 to your estate.”
The company promised that the tools used to service 10 will also work with 11. Windows Update will send updates to devices running Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro that are not managed. IT managers in large companies can use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Windows Update for Business (WUfB), Endpoint Manager’s Configuration Manager, Microsoft’s Intune, and other software and services for deployment and maintenance. (There are already some exceptions and notes here.)
In the same way, Windows Insider will be the way to get early access to Windows 11. The program’s Dev channel will release the first version of Windows 11 next week. Microsoft said that “later this summer” there will be a release for the Beta channel.