How long will Microsoft support Windows 11?
Microsoft finally released Windows 11 on October 5th, and it’s been rolling out to more and more PCs in the months since then. As we’re stating to see Windows 11 in laptops all over, it’s important to know what we’re signing up for. One major question is how long the Windows 11 support period will be. You want your PC to stay functional and updated as long as possible, so this is an important question. While Microsoft hasn’t given us a full answer just yet, we have a good idea of what to expect.
Before we start, the first thing you may want to know is whether Windows 11 supports your PC in the first place. Microsoft has shared the system requirements for the new OS, and the changes from Windows 10 are significant. You’ll need 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a TPM 2.0 module. There’s also a list of compatible CPUs that will rule out quite a few older devices, so you’ll want to make sure your CPU is on the list, too.
Feature updates have different support periods
The first thing to know is that Windows 11 will get feature updates once per year. Windows 10 also got these updates, but they actually happened every six months or so. What this means is the Windows 10 we know today is very different from what was launched in 2015 — and the same will happen with Windows 11. The initial release of Windows 11 happened on October 5th, but we’ll see big updates every year after that. This is what Microsoft calls the modern lifecycle policy.
In addition to potentially looking very different, each of these Windows 11 updates will have its own support cycle. Microsoft has actually already said publicly that each annual update is going to get 24 months support for Home and Pro editions. For Enterprise and Education editions, that goes up to 36 months. That’s a notable change from Windows 10, where each feature update got 18 months of support. Even for Enterprise and Education users, updates only got up to 30 months of support. Everyone will benefit from this new and upgraded support cycle.
With the initial Windows 11 release (version 21H2) happening on October 5th, 2021, this version will be supported until October 10th, 2023 for Home and pro license, or October 8th, 2024 for Enterprise and Education users. When your Windows 11 version is nearing the end of support, you’ll likely be forced to upgrade to the latest version.
Does Windows 11 as a whole have an end-of-support date?
One thing that’s easy to forget is that, despite this continuous update system, Windows 10 as a whole still has an end-of-support date. Microsoft says it will keep supporting the OS until October 14th, 2025, which is about ten years from the original release of Windows 10. In fact, that tends to be the case with every major Windows version. They get five years of mainstream support from their release and ten years of extended support. Microsoft hasn’t really talked about how long Windows 11 as a whole well be supported, but it should be at least 10 years, too, as long as you’re running the latest version of Windows 11.
Of course, these things can change, and those periods can be extended. Microsoft supported Windows XP for over 12 years thanks to its sheer popularity and the reluctance of some users to move on. With Windows 11, we could end up seeing that date extended as new feature updates are released. Or Microsoft might end up making a Windows 12 at some point, and we’ll just get the minimum ten years of support. After all, Windows 10 was supposed to be the last version of Windows, but that has now changed.
Another thing to keep in mind for business users is the Long-Term Servicing Channel. Releases in this channel have ten years of support, no matter what. For example, Windows 10 version 1809 was released as Windows 20 2019 LTSC, and it’ll be supported until 2029. We’ll likely see similar releases based on Windows 11, and they’ll get 10 years of support from whenever that LTSC release happens. However, the initial release of Windows 11 did not come with an LTSC release (there’s a new LTSC release of Windows 10 instead), so we’ll have to wait for that to happen in the future.
In conclusion, you can expect Windows 11 to be supported for the foreseeable future. Every year, there’ll be a big feature update, and you’ll eventually have to install it to extend your support period. Windows 11 as a whole should be supported for about ten years, provided you have the latest feature update installed.