Finally, an answer
Microsoft's insertion of of Windows 10 in the lifecycle support fact sheet -- and more importantly, the usual promise to support the OS for a decade -- closes the company's mysterious use of supported lifetime of the device whenever it described the policy for Windows 10 or was asked to clarify its meaning, which it repeatedly declined to do.
The phrase first popped up in January, when Microsoft announced an unprecedented free upgrade offer to Windows 10 from several SKUs of Windows 7 and 8.1. "Once a device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will be keeping it current for the supported lifetime of the device," said Terry Myerson, then the head of the Windows group,.
Myerson used the same phrase in a blog post last month when he revealed the OS's July 29 release date. "And Windows 10 provides the most secure platform ever, including Windows Defender for free anti-malware protection, and being the only platform with a commitment to deliver free ongoing security updates for the supported lifetime of the device."
In late June, Microsoft described a support timeline in a presentation aimed at Wall Street, saying there that Windows revenue would be deferred "over the estimated period the software upgrades are expected to be provided by estimated device life, which can range from two to four years."
A Microsoft spokesman confirmed the two-to-four-year stretch, saying in an email exchange last week that, "The upgrades will be for [the] life of device, which we estimate to be 2 to 4 years."
However, Microsoft today put that to rest with its pledge to support Windows for 10 years or as long as the hardware handles the operating, whichever comes first.
But there are caveats
"The OS that ships on July 29 will continue to be supported for 10 years, with those caveats," said Steve Kleynhans, a Gartner analyst, in an interview, referring to the footnoted material on the lifecycle fact sheet. "Although obviously, at some point they will have to reset the clock to start another 10 years and mark some kind of stake in the ground. Whether that will be around LTSB [the Long-term Servicing Branch update track available solely to the Windows 10 Enterprise edition, which will get only security patches and critical bug fixes] or when the next 10 years will start, we don't have answers yet."
But to Kleynhans, it was evident that Microsoft would support Windows 10, particularly the business-grade SKUs of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Pro, for the usual decade. "There was never any intent not to support Windows 10 Pro for 10 years," Kleynhans said.
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