I am often asked which version of Windows 10 an organization should select. I am astounded by the number of IT Pros involved in Windows 10 migrations and deployments that are unaware of the servicing windows for each of the semi-annual feature updates of Windows 10. For background, it is important to understand that Microsoft releases two feature updates to Windows 10 each year through the semi-annual update channel. The versions in this servicing channel are released in the spring ad the fall. Sometimes there is a specific name for the version but lately they have typically been referred to as one of the following:
- Spring / Fall Update
- March/September Update (Note that the general availability does not always align perfectly to these months
- YYMM (E.g. 1903 vs 1909)
- H1/H2 (First half vs second half of the year)
Regardless of what you call the update, the impact of your version selection has a big impact on your next mandatory update. Most important to note is that all versions of Windows 10 have an 18 month servicing window with the exception of the September (H2, Fall) update for Enterprises and Education customers which has a 30 month servicing window. This means that there will not be any quality and security updates beyond 18 months for these versions.
If you have access to Enterprise or Education versions of Windows 10, you get 30 months of servicing support. Consider that, if you install 1903 the day it is released you will get a shorter support window than if you installed 1809 the very same day.
Pro Tip: Unless you have a compelling reason to use a specific H1 version of Windows 10, you should install an H2 version of Windows 10 Enterprise (or Education) to maximize the servicing window and provide more runway between mandatory upgrades.
|Edition||March* feature updates||September* feature updates|
|Windows 10 Enterprise
Windows 10 Education
|Serviced for 18 months from release date||Serviced for 30 months from release date|
|Windows 10 Pro
Windows 10 Pro Education
Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
Windows 10 Home
|Serviced for 18 months from release date, however based on your setting, the latest feature update may be automatically installed on your device upon availability.||Serviced for 18 months from release date, however based on your setting, the latest feature update may be automatically installed on your device upon availability.|
* Feature updates will be released twice annually with a target of March and September.
Note: There is also a Long Term Servicing Channel that provides five or more years of support to specific Long Term Servicing Branch versions of Windows 10. These versions are outside of the scope of this discussion.
More information about this and related topics can be found in the
Windows lifecycle fact sheet
By Colin Smith
Colin Smith is the Manager of the Microsoft Solutions Practice at Cistel Technology Inc. , a Microsoft Gold Partner headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. Colin is a frequent author and presenter.