Windows 10 is now joining Windows 7 in the Microsoft operating system graveyard. With Microsoft’s recent announcement that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade, the tech behemoth will end support for Windows 10 on October 14, 2025. This includes Windows 10 Home Pro, as well as the Education and Workstation Pro editions. This information has been added to the company’s official Windows 10 documentation.
That gives you years to prepare as Microsoft gradually migrates its billion-plus Windows users to Windows 11, according to the company’s virtual event on Thursday. Windows 11 will be available this holiday season, with a preview build available the following week.
According to recent reports, a new version of Windows will be announced later this month, despite the fact that Windows 10 was supposed to be the final version of Windows ever. With the current version, Microsoft had switched to a Windows-as-a-service model for the operating system, which meant that users would receive over-the-air updates, similar to the Android and iOS platforms.
In June of 2015, Microsoft released Windows 10. The newly announced “retirement date” would put Windows 10’s life expectancy at around ten years, which is about par for the course for the operating system. (For example, the popular Windows 7 debuted in late 2009 and will be supported until early 2020.)
Of course, four years is a long time, but it indicates an aggressive rollout for whatever Microsoft has planned for its event later this month. At the moment, Windows 10 is installed on over 1 billion devices worldwide, which means that one in every seven people on the planet uses the software.
What Is the Windows Lifecycle?
Microsoft originally committed to ten years of support for Windows 10, with an original end-of-life date of October 13th, 2020. Because Microsoft has been releasing regular updates and extending active Windows 10 support, the mainstream end of support has not yet begun.
We’re still not in the extended support phase of Windows 10, which is when Microsoft stops adding new features to an operating system and instead focuses on bug fixes and security patches.
Microsoft has updated its Windows Lifecycle page, which shows how long the company will support and update recent versions of Windows.
Windows 10 is now included in the lifecycle fact sheet, along with XP Service Pack 3, Vista Service Pack 2, Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and Windows 8.1.
What does this mean?
The terms closely follow the pattern set by Microsoft for other recent operating systems, with five years of mainstream support and ten years of extended support. Windows 10 will be supported until October 13, 2020, with extended support ending on October 14, 2025. However, both levels of support may go beyond those dates, as previous OS versions’ support end dates were pushed forward after service packs. Windows 10 will receive automatic updates on a regular basis, which could eventually be considered a service pack.
But what exactly do the phrases “mainstream support” and “extended support” mean? Most importantly, both imply that as new threats or vulnerabilities are discovered, the operating system will be updated with critical security fixes. Updates may also include improvements to reliability, performance, and compatibility.
The standard support period also includes live assistance with technical questions via phone, email, or chat. You can find them at support.microsoft.com. Support for simple issues is free, but for more complex situations, there are paid support options called Premier and Essential Support. The paid options, as well as Microsoft Knowledge Base information on the OS, are still available during the extended support period.
What Happens When Windows 10 Support Ends?
Once extended support (or support for a specific version of Windows 10) expires, that version of Windows is effectively dead. Except in exceptional circumstances, Microsoft will not provide updates, even for security issues.
While your computer will continue to function normally, it will become increasingly insecure as it ages. If an attacker discovers a vulnerability in the operating system, Microsoft will not patch it. In addition, popular software will eventually stop supporting legacy versions of Windows.
Should you switch to Windows 11 immediately?
Most likely not. Many people still use Windows 7 and 8 on their computers and have not upgraded to Windows 10. However, it is recommended that you use the most recent software in order to receive security updates. Without security updates, your computer is vulnerable to malware and other vulnerabilities, exposing you to hacks, viruses, and other threats.
When Microsoft releases Windows 11, eligible Windows 10 PCs will receive free upgrades. The free upgrades will be extended until 2022. If you’re still running Windows 7 and want to upgrade to Windows 11, you’ll need to first upgrade to Windows 10.
How to Upgrade to Windows 11?
Microsoft intends to release Windows 11 to the general public on October 5, but fans can get a taste of it now if they can’t wait that long.
Windows 11 is just around the corner and, like previous Windows 10 feature updates, will be available in the northern hemisphere’s fall/autumn season.
The latest version of Microsoft’s operating system will include significant changes to the Start menu and taskbar, a major overhaul of the Settings app, and a Widgets pane designed to deliver news and reminders.
Microsoft anticipates that Windows 11 will be available for new and existing PCs on October 5th. The update will be rolled out in a measured and phased manner, and it will only be available on existing PCs that meet Windows 11’s system requirements.
You can now check to see if your PC meets the new Windows 11 minimum requirements. There are also some “hard” and “soft” requirements, such as CPU types, which allows for a lot of flexibility in terms of which hardware can run Windows 11.
During the week of June 28th, Microsoft allowed Windows Insiders to begin testing the new operating system. It has since released several Insider builds.
If you’re already on Windows 10, Windows 11 will be free for a limited time, according to Microsoft, mirroring the upgrade strategy it used to entice Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10.
Windows 11 System Requirements
Windows 11 includes a new set of system requirements set by Microsoft to ensure that all Windows 11 PCs perform optimally in terms of security and stability.
The following are the minimum system requirements:
- A modern 1GHz 64-bit dual-core processor
- 4GB RAM 64GB drive
- 9-inch display
- 1366×768 resolution
- UEFI, Secure Boot & TPM 2.0 compatible
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics/WWDM 2.x
With Windows 11, one of the most significant changes to the system requirements is that the operating system is now only available on 64-bit processors. Microsoft is not releasing a 32-bit version of the operating system, but 32-bit apps will continue to function normally.
Microsoft is also restricting officially supported Windows 11 PCs to those with Intel 8th-generation (or equivalent) processors or higher. This means that if your CPU is older than the 8th Generation Intel, you will most likely be unable to run Windows 11 when it is released later this year.