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Microsoft prods customers with Windows 10 retirement dates

Microsoft is reminding customers that one version of Windows 10 received its final security update this week and that another will fall off the support list around this time next month.

The concluding update for Windows 10 Enterprise 1703 and Windows 10 Education 1703 was handed out Tuesday, John Wilcox, a Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) evangelist, said in a post to a Microsoft blog. Windows 10 1703, which also carried the descriptive name of "Creator's Update," launched in April 2017.

The end-of-support date for Windows 10 Enterprise and Education 1703 was supposed to be Oct. 9, 2018, but in February of that year Microsoft extended the deadline - as well as those for several other feature upgrades - from 18 to 24 months. That pushed Enterprise and Education 1703's retirement to April 2019.

The 24 months became 30 months in September 2018, when Microsoft again revised its support policies by announcing that Windows 10 Enterprise 1703 and Education 1703 would be supported until Oct. 8, 2019.

Next month, Microsoft will call it quits for Windows 10 Home 1803 and Windows 10 Pro 1803. Those consumer and small business editions, respectively, are to receive their final security updates on Nov. 12. Microsoft released 1803 on April 30, 2018.

(Although Home's and Pro's 18 months with 1803 will soon be up, Windows 10 Enterprise 1803 and Education 1803 will be supported until Nov. 10, 2020, or slightly more than 30 months from its introduction.)

Windows 10 Home 1803 and Pro 1803 have been in the spotlight of late - not for what the feature upgrade contains, but for the fact that it preceded 1809, Microsoft's greatest Windows 10 stumble so far. When Windows 10 1809 was months late in launching, Microsoft solved the delay problem by largely skipping that version and instead upgraded users directly to its successor, Windows 10 1903; that version shipped in late May. Microsoft was able to do so because it freed users of Home and Pro to choose when to upgrade to the next version; since Windows 10's mid-2015 debut, Microsoft had decided when each PC received and installed an upgrade.

But the company refused to surrender all decision making, fearful that customers would neglect to keep their devices up to date or refuse to upgrade because of the hassle. Microsoft did not want the unintended consequences of its freedom festival to be so many unpatched Windows devices that infections could threaten ecosystem catastrophe or worse, smear the operating system's reputation.

So, Microsoft gave itself the right to forcibly upgrade PCs whose version of Windows 10 was about to expire. In this inaugural event, Microsoft began the compulsory upgrading in mid-July, four months before 1803's retirement. Will it succeed? That's unclear: One analytics vendor pegged 1803 as still powering 24% of all Windows 10 personal computers on Sept. 25, or seven weeks before the version's support termination.

At 1803's average decline over the four weeks before Sept. 25, the edition would remain on about 8% of all Windows 10 machines when Microsoft pulls the support plug. While 8% seems reasonable, it is actually twice and four times higher than the leftovers for the two preceding versions, 1709 and 1703, respectively, around the time when their support lapsed.

What is odd about Wilcox's reminder of 1803's impending end is that he didn't mention, even in passing, the new servicing scheme, how it impacts Windows 10 Home 1803 and Pro 1803, or why 1803's end of support is, in fact, different than previous upgrades. Instead, Wilcox described how Windows 10 differs from prior editions, a tale Microsoft has told so many times it has become rote.

The next Windows 10 expiration date will be April 14, 2020, when Windows 10 Enterprise 1709 and Education 1709 will have their support revoked.

This story, "Microsoft prods customers with Windows 10 retirement dates" was originally published by Computerworld.