Aaron44126 Posted February 5, 2022 Share Posted February 5, 2022 (Quick support status snapshot) LTSC 2021: Released 2021-11-16 • Supported until 2027-01-12 • IoT supported until 2032-01-13 LTSC 2019: Released 2018-11-13 • Supported until 2029-01-09 LTSB 2016: Released 2016-08-02 • Supported until 2026-10-13 LTSB 2015: Released 2015-07-29 • Supported until 2025-10-14 After the disappointment that is Windows 11, I migrated my systems over to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC. I appreciate the long-term feature stability and general lack of monetization "features" that have been plaguing later versions of Windows 10/11. I think that this is the way to go for many of us tech type folks, especially for business systems, so I wanted to write up some information about it. (I have much to say specifically about my problems with Windows 11... over here.) What is Windows LTSC The Windows long-term service channel is a version of Windows that is updated much less often than the general consumer version of Windows. The idea is to maintain feature stability for fixed-function devices. It was previously known as LTSB (long-term service branch). Windows 10 was given a major "feature upgrade" once every six months. Starting with Windows 11, Microsoft is settling into a once-per-year pattern with feature upgrades. Windows LTSC is refreshed only once every three years. Since 2016, the schedule has been roughly aligned with Windows Server releases, and Windows LTSC often shares the same base as the corresponding version of Windows Server (same binaries, updates, etc.). Windows LTSC omits features that are likely to change over the course of its lifecycle. There is no Microsoft Store. There are no bundled "modern apps". (Even the calculator app is replaced with a Win32 version, instead of the UWP version that ships with ordinary Windows 10/11.) Cortana is not included. Microsoft Edge was omitted until the 2021 release. Monthly updates do not contain new features — for example, the "News and Interests" feature that dropped in Windows 10 in the middle of 2021 did not make it into Windows 10 LTSC. Otherwise, it is a fully functional version of Windows. Some omitted features can be added back if you like (see below). In the end, this comes off as a version of Windows that is a lot like what Windows used to be like, before Windows 10 — basically, unchanging except for bug fixes, until you went out of your way to upgrade to a new version. Windows LTSC versions There have been four LTSC releases to date: Mid 2015: Windows 10 LTSB 2015, released alongside the original RTM release of Windows 10 (retroactively named "Windows 10, version 1507") Mid 2016: Windows 10 LTSB 2016, released alongside Windows 10 "Anniversary Update" (Windows 10, version 1607) and Windows Server 2016 Late 2018: Windows 10 LTSC 2019, released alongside Windows 10, version 1809 and Windows Server 2019 Late 2021: Windows 10 LTSC 2021, released alongside Windows 10, version 21H2 (Windows Server 2022 was released around the same time as LTSC 2021, but Server 2022 and LTSC 2021 do not share the same binaries.) Microsoft is settling into a three-year cycle for LTSC releases, so the next release is due in late 2024, and will probably be based on Windows 11. (Note that even though LTSC 2019 and LTSC 2021 are "named" two years apart, they were released three years apart.) Windows LTSC editions Windows LTSC is currently available in two editions: "Enterprise" and "IoT Enterprise". The two editions are functionally equivalent, and in fact you can switch between the two just by changing the product key. They differ in terms of how you obtain a license for them, and in how long they are supported. Windows LTSC support lifecycle Ordinary Windows 10 releases were only supported for 18 months (or 30 months for Enterprise/Education editions, for fall releases). Windows 11 releases are supported for 24 months (36 months for Enterprise/Education editions). This means you are expected to be moving forward to the newer versions regularly. Windows LTSC releases are supported for five years (Enterprise, 2021 and later) or ten years (IoT Enterprise, and Enterprise releases prior to 2021). You can see the current status for each version on this page (just scroll down). https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/release-health/release-information Windows LTSC licensing Unlike ordinary Windows 10/11, Windows LTSC licenses are good only for a particular version of Windows LTSC. To upgrade to a newer version, you will need to obtain a new license for that version. On the possible positive side, you will never be pressured by Windows alerts to upgrade to a newer version. Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC can be obtained via a Microsoft volume licensing agreement. If your business has a software licensing agreement with Microsoft, then you can probably get a license through there. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC is licensed to OEMs that sell fixed-function devices (POS terminals, ATMs, etc.). Both types of licenses can sometimes be found through resellers. Licenses can be purchased from resellers like CDW, Provantage, or Connection. "Upgrade" licenses available from resellers like this can be installed on systems that shipped with an OEM version of Windows 10 — you are "upgrading" from base Windows 10 to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC. (You may still do a clean install rather than an actual in-place upgrade if you so choose; the "upgrade" is to the license for your system, not the actual Windows install.) IoT licenses are generally cheaper. Here is a Reddit thread that I found, where the OP describes the process of purchasing a license from Provantage. Purchasing volume license licenses through a Microsoft "partner", you may have to buy five licenses of "something" because that is the minimum to qualify as a volume license customer. You could purchase one Windows 10 LTSC license and then four cheap "Microsoft Identity Manager" licenses. You can also find license keys on eBay. Product keys for either edition are available through a Visual Studio subscription (yearly, not monthly). Also, Microsoft Action Pack includes licenses to run Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC on up to ten PCs. These are licenses for a specific use; Visual Studio keys are supposed to be used for application development and testing purposes only, and this page describes how Microsoft Action Pack works. A 90-day evaluation version is available if you just want to try it out. (There are probably other places to get licenses; let me know and I will include them here.) You can also just search online for "Microsoft Activation Scripts" and go from there. Upgrading from "ordinary" Windows to Windows LTSC Users of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 can upgrade in-place to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2015. From there, they can upgrade in-place to any later Windows 10 LTSC release. (A license is not technically needed for LTSC 2015 if you are just using it as a stepping stone, but you will need the install media.) To upgrade from Windows 10 (Home/Pro/Enterprise/Education) to Windows 10 LTSC, all you need to do is: Open regedit and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion Find the value "EditionID" and change the data to "EnterpriseS" Run setup.exe from Windows 10 LTSC install media and perform an in-place upgrade (If you upgrade in-place from non-LTSC to LTSC, Microsoft Store and the built-in "modern apps" will be carried over, even though they are not included in a LTSC base install.) Note that you can upgrade to the same version of Windows 10 that you are currently on (ex: Windows 10, version 21H2 to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021), or to a later version (ex: Windows 10, version 1909 to Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021), but you cannot upgrade to an "earlier" version (ex: Windows 10, version 1909 to Windows 10 Enterprise 2019). See the list of Windows LTSC versions above to see which LTSC version matches up with which Windows 10 version. In-place upgrades from Windows 11 to Windows LTSC are not possible at present. So, to spell it out, the upgrade matrix looks like: Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 may upgrade to Windows 10 LTSB 2015 (and then to a later version). Windows 10, version 1507 may upgrade to Windows 10 LTSB 2015 or later. Windows 10, versions 1511 and 1607 may upgrade to Windows 10 LTSB 2016 or later. Windows 10, versions 1703, 1709, 1803, and 1809 may upgrade to Windows 10 LTSC 2019 or later. Windows 10, versions 1903, 1909, 2004, 20H2, 21H1, and 21H2 may upgrade to Windows 10 LTSC 2021 only. There is no in-place upgrade option for Windows 11. Also, you can upgrade in-place from LTSC to non-LTSC. (To switch to an edition other than Enterprise or Education, you'll have to adjust the "EditionId" value to match the target edition before kicking off the upgrade.) Similar rules — you can't upgrade to an older version but you can go to an equivalent or newer version. Installing Microsoft Store on Windows LTSC Just open command prompt or PowerShell as admin and run: wsreset -i ...And then wait a bit; the install can take a few minutes and there is no visual feedback. Once the Microsoft Store is installed, you can install "modern apps" (UWP, etc.) without issue. Windows LTSC downsides What I can think of is basically: If a new feature lands in "ordinary" Windows, you will have to wait for a new version of Windows LTSC to make use of it, and that could be up to three years depending on the timing. Some software may require a certain version of Windows in order to run and could present issues in the later part of a 3-year LTSC cycle. Games in particular can be an issue here. Forza Horizon 5, for example, requires Windows 10, version 1909 or better, so LTSC users could not play it until LTSC 2021 was released. (Some games and apps advertise a requirement for a certain version of Windows but will still work on older versions. It's a case-by-case investigation.) ...Obtaining a license can be tricky and you have to pay up to upgrade every three years, if you want to stay on the latest version. ...That's it for now. I'll probably update this post with more information as I think of it. 4 1 1 Dell Precision 7770 (personal) • Dell Precision 7560 (work) • Full specs in spoiler block below Info posts (Dell) — Dell Precision key posts • Dell driver RSS feeds • Dell Fan Management — override fan behavior Info posts (Windows) — Turbo boost toggle • The problem with Windows 11 • About Windows 10 LTSC Spoiler Dell Precision 7770 (personal) Intel Core i9-12950HX ("Alder Lake"), 8P+8E 8× P cores ("Golden Cove"): 2.3 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading 8× E cores ("Gracemont"): 1.7 GHz base, 3.6 GHz turbo 128GB DDR5-3600 (CAMM) NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti 16GB (DGFF) Storage: 2TB system drive: Samsung 980 Pro, PCIe4 24TB additional storage: MDRAID, RAID 0 2× 8TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, PCIe4 1× 8TB Inland Performance Plus, PCIe4 Kubuntu 23.04 (KDE Plasma 5.27, Linux kernel 6.2) 17.3" 3940×2160 120 Hz display Intel Wi-Fi AX211 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth) 93Wh battery IR webcam Fingerprint reader Dell Precision 7560 (work) Intel Xeon W-11955M ("Tiger Lake") 8×2.6 GHz base, 5.0 GHz turbo, hyperthreading ("Willow Cove") 64GB DDR4-3200 ECC NVIDIA RTX A2000 4GB Storage: 512GB system drive (Micron 2300) 4TB additional storage (Sabrent Rocket Q4) Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2021 15.6" 3940×2160 display Intel Wi-Fi AX210 (Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth) 95Wh battery IR webcam Fingerprint reader Previous Dell Precision 7530, 7510, M4800, M6700 Dell Latitude E6520 Dell Inspiron 1720, 5150 Dell Latitude CPi Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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