Microsoft has announced last week that the company has decided to delay the scheduled end-of-service date for the Enterprise, Education, and IoT Enterprise editions of Windows 10 version 1803.
In the announcement post published on the company blog on Wednesday, Communications Team leader Chris Morrissey writes:
“We have heard your feedback and understand your need to focus on business continuity in the midst of the global pandemic. As a result, we have decided to delay the scheduled end-of-service date for the Enterprise, Education, and IoT Enterprise editions of Windows 10 version 1803. This means that security updates will continue to be released monthly until May 11, 2021. The final security update for these editions of Windows 10 version 1803 will be released on May 11, 2021 instead of November 10, 2020.”
It is worth noting this is only valid for business and education-oriented SKUs of Windows 10 version 1803, while Home and Pro edition are notably absent.
Even more interesting, this week's extension is the third granted by the Redmond company in the last five months. First, on March 19 Microsoft added six months to Windows 10 Enterprise 1709 and Windows 10 Education 1709, moving the end of support from April 14 to October 13; then, on April 14 Microsoft graced Windows 10 Home 1809 and Windows 10 Pro 1809 as well with six additional months of support, moving their end-of-support date from May 12 to November 10.
In the words of Microsoft, these extensions are meant to help overcome the additional burden caused by the Covid-19 pandemic which, among all things, has also put a lot of stress on IT infrastructures as the prevalence of home working and telecommuting has skyrocketed. In such difficult times, the rationale is that stability is paramount, while system administrators, as well as home users, have an all-time high need for reliability, and personal computing has become a key requirement for many activities during the lockdown and its aftermath.
And yet, while the declared intent is noble, it's difficult to brush off the perception that Microsoft is conveniently using the pandemic as an excuse to quietly change their products' lifecycle policies. It is not a secret that businesses are upset by the continuous delivery model introduced by Windows 10 in 2015, especially with regards to the forced mandatory updates and rapid release cycle, that is shoving what is basically a new version of the operating system - with new bugs and potential issues - down the users' throat every six months. Despite all PR efforts, the business world has never really accepted the move from the legacy development model that would release a new version of Windows every three years or so, providing plenty of time for IT departments to assess the changes and handle the update from previous versions.
Therefore, it would not come as a surprise if this was not the last support lifecycle extension granted by Microsoft; and that would benefit them before anyone else, as it represents a convenient and socially acceptable way for the Redmond giant to get out of the self-inflicted tight spot of an aggressive mandatory updates cycle, while at the same time looking good in front of their customers.